Commas and Coordinating Conjunctions (FANBOYS)

You've seen the commentary, but what does that mean? Coordinating conjunctions are all of the following:


You can remember them by being FANBOYS of good grammar. If you're having trouble with comma usage each time one of these pops up, here's a trick that can make it easier. You only need a comma when each part can stand on its own. So whenever you see one of the FANBOYS, split the sentence around it. 

I went to the store |and| bought eggs.

"I went to the store" is a complete sentence, but "bought eggs" is not. This sentence is fine the way it is.

I went to the store |and| I bought eggs.

"I went to the store" is a complete sentence. "I bought eggs" is also a complete sentence. The sentence should read: I went to the store, and I bought eggs.

You can do this with any of the FANBOYS.

I went to the store, |but| the chickens were on strike, |so| there were no eggs.

I went to the store |but| found no eggs.

They say women are from Venus, |yet| Mars already has Martians, |so| why do they need men too?

If you can split a sentence, you can join the full-fledged FANBOYS.

Note: one small editorial change was made on 5/3. We added an "s" to "pop" for "pops."

Average: 3.7 (18 votes)

What are coordinating conjunctions, and when do you use a comma with them? Read on to tackle those pesky comma placements and raise your rating.



 I actually  became  acquainted with the FANBOYS  three years ago.    For years I always believed there should be  a comma before  the word  but.  I just happened to notice in some classic  novels  written  by such people  as   harriet Beecher Stowe, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and others  that  sometimes  there wasn't a comma  before the word  but.  I decided to google  the rule on commas  before  but  .  Eventually, it  took me  to the FANBOYS.   I went through  about  a dozen sites  because  I could not  find  a site that would  explain  the rule  so I could  understand it.  

It went  like this.   If you have  a complete thought  after the word but  or  any of the FANBOYS,  put  a comma  before the word  but.   If you have an incomplete thought  after the word but or   any of  the FANBOYS   don't  put  anything.   

I just want to say, your  explanation of the  comma  before  but rule  is  just  perfect.   In fact,  you  went  as far as to tell me  what  kind of  a word   but is.   Of course it is  a coordinating conjunction.   

What  evaluations  I have gotten from Textbroker is over my head, other  than   the spacing problems.  Putting brackets around  words  means nothing to me.   When  I get  my  first  five accepted articles evaluated,  I hope  that  the  mistakes  are  explained to me  as  clearly  as the  coordinating  conjunction and comma  rule.


Error  corrections:  harriet  Beecher Stowe    should be  Harriet  Beecher Stowe.


Thanks for the FANBOYS explanation. I will learn one rule at a time about comma usage.


Thank you for this CLEAR explanation. The TB editors are not always as helpful when writing evaluations.

I've been a Level 5 writer at Textbroker for years, and still have trouble with pesky commas.

This ^ may put an end to all that. Yay!



Thank you for the information in this article.  I found a helpful video on youtube.



Thank you for admiting that commas still can cause you problems.  I just started writing for TB and had my first evaluation and it was pretty discouraging.  Your comment cheered me up.


I'm drowning in comma usage, but it's a pleasant, useful death. Losing semicolons was difficult. I'd cut my grammatical teeth on them, yet moving on speeds the healing. Life requires compromise, and when I find I've compromised too much, it's time for a rewrite. Ugly, awkward duckilings are for the most part exactly what they seem: They waiver, wobble, weave and wander until finally collapsing into a confused, exhausted heap. When I find myself bewildered, it's easy enough to imagine how the reader might feel. Other than catching spelling mistakes and missing words in a sentence, proofreading and self-editing don't do much good without a competent grasp of the rules. Knowing the rules has little meaning without understanding the underlying structural framework needed in applying them.

Personally, I have no desire to to aquire a doctorate in grammer, but taking a few minutes each day, making some hand-written notes, taking advantage of myriad quizzes and tests can only serve to sharpen my skills, increase speed amd make me a better writer. If there's a shortcut, I haven't found it. Starting at four stars with TB was gratifying, but it was only a starting point. I have a great deal to learn while earning that extra star and a little scratch along the way.

Here's a hint for those of you with five star ambitions: Print out the proofreading test. Carefully examine it, taking your time. Check for spelling errors, obvious grammer mistakes, and eliminate those choices. Concentrate on the remaining options. Do some research about those choices and weigh the differences however small or seemingly insignificant. Again, take notes, including examples for reference materials, which will come in handy later. The time you spend won't be wasted. You're investing in yourself, and that's money well spent.   


Thanks for the hints about 5 stars, A-481109!  I'd love to accomplish that level.

Debra R

I must say that I was also relieved to read about the comma struggles other writers have also experienced... I've been writing for many other websites and publications for years, but I'm new to Textbroker. My first TB evaluation was incredibly deflating, and this was the first time I've ever suffered a rejection of my writing by a client due to commas!  And on my very first TB submission! AACK!

According to the evaluation by TB, my article was entirely due to 3 examples of improper comma usage. Harsh. (I'm wondering how I survived this long on all of the other writing sites?) I guess it's time to become better acquianted with FANBOYS if I choose to hang out here!