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Writing in Spanish

5 Rules to Learn the Use of Commas in Spanish

The use of commas in Spanish is not an easy task to perform, in fact, many Spanish speakers find it difficult to use them correctly. People often worry if they are using commas correctly, but if your answer is ‘sometimes’, we recommend you to read this guide to learn a little about when to use a comma in Spanish.

Let’s start with the basics: punctuation marks

The comma is a punctuation mark (,) that usually indicates a short pause in a sentence. Now, learn some rules to use it properly and master the comma in Spanish grammar.

Rule 1: Never use a comma between subject and verb

Yes, you heard it right. This is a very common mistake when translating from English to Spanish as it is frequently used in English. As the Fundéu says, this is a criminal comma.

Rule 2: Use a comma after a vocative

A vocative is a noun that we use to call or name the speaker. Don’t forget to use the comma even if it is a short sentence: Hola, Pedro, te echo de menos (Hey, Pedro, I miss you).

Rule 3: Use a comma after an interjection

Interjections are words that are used to express feelings, reactions or sounds that we want to imitate. It is very important not to forget the comma in these cases: Ay, me he hecho daño en la pierna (Ouch, I hurt my leg).

Rule 4: Use a comma to separate elements of the same sentence

This is perhaps one of the easiest rules of punctuation, but… It’s also tricky! Never use a comma when the elements are complete in a sentence, as the last element is introduced by a conjunction (y, e, o, u, ni): No le gusta el fútbol, el baloncesto ni el tenis (He doesn’t like football, basketball or tennis).

Rule 5: Use a comma when circumstantial complements precede the verb

This rule applies to simple sentences unless they are very short: En esos campos de pasto, los días eran idílicos (In those grassy fields, the days were idyllic), but En tu casa no puedo dormir (I can’t sleep in your house). Note that if what precedes the verb is any other complement, such as direct, indirect, regulative, etc., a comma should never be used: Muy contento estás tú (I can tell you feel very happy).

How difficult is to use punctuation marks!

Yes, we know. Punctuation marks, particularly the use of commas, are among the most difficult elements of a language to master. But, if you do manage to master them, along with prepositions, you can consider yourself a bilingual Spanish speaker. Don’t give up! iScribo is here for you to improve your writing while learning Spanish grammar properly.

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