You can recognise that you need a comma before ‘and’ when you’re connecting two clauses with separate subjects and verbs.
This applies even when the second subject is a pronoun referring to the same person or thing as the first subject, or when the second clause repeats the same verb from the first.
But it’s often better to simplify phrasings like these by omitting the second subject. This way, you remove the need for a comma and make the sentence less repetitive.
Most style guides do make an exception for short sentences where the two independent clauses are simple and closely related. In these cases, the comma is optional.
When you don’t need a comma before ‘and’
As a conjunction, ‘and’ can also connect all kinds of different words: adjectives, nouns, verbs, and so on. When ‘and’ joins two words like this, rather than joining two full independent clauses, it’s incorrect to use a comma.
However, at the end of a list of three or more items, a comma may be used before ‘and’. This is called the Oxford comma (or serial comma). It’s usually recommended to use it.
When do you need a comma after ‘and’?
As a general rule, you don’t need a comma after and. Even if you start a sentence with an introductory ‘and’, you should not place a comma after it.
The future is bright. And, it’s coming faster than you think.
The only occasion when a comma might appear after ‘and’ is when the sentence is interrupted at that point by a parenthetical phrase set off by commas.
Worksheet: Comma before or after and
Do you want to test your knowledge about when to use a comma before or after and? Use our practice worksheet below. Just insert commas into the sentences wherever you think they’re needed, and then check your work against the answers provided.