Comma Before "With" - Here's The Golden Rule + 6 Examples (2022)

For anyone who struggles with their grammar, the comma can be one of the most confusing aspects of English. Some may have heard that you should always put a comma before “with”, others may have heard that you should never do such a thing. Both are wrong.

Today, we’ll look at when you should or shouldn’t use a comma before the word “with”.

Table of Contents

Should you put a comma before with?

When “with” is before an “introductory parenthetical element” (new information), you should use a comma.

“Blake pushed the bike, with a sore leg from cycling all day”.

But when it’s an adverbial adjunct element (description), there is no comma.

“Blake cycled with the grace of a fleeing deer”.

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Explaining when to put a comma before with

If you’re anything like me when I first started learning all these new rules, you are scratching your head a bit, wondering what half of that means. Let me break it down for you.

Parenthetical element

Parenthetical comes from “Parenthesis”, which is an explanation or afterthought.

“Blake pushed the bike, with a sore leg from cycling all day”.

In this sentence, the fact he has a sore leg is additional information that the first clause could have done without.

Adverbial adjunct element.

An “adverb” is a description of a doing word.

“He cycled with the grace of a fleeing deer”, is a description of how he was cycling.

A general rule of thumb for comma before with

A good rule to follow is to ask yourself “Is the phrase after “with” describing the word before “with”.

“Blake helped his friend with a broken leg”

Here, we don’t add the comma because we are describing his friend. It’s his friend who has the broken leg, not Blake.

“Blake helped his friend, with a broken leg”. Unlike the previous sentence, because of the addition of the comma, it’s Blake who has the broken leg, not his friend.

Remember, if it’s additional information, use a comma. If it’s a description, don’t use a comma.

3 examples of no comma before with

“I walked over to the pub with my favourite beer inside. I didn’t want to be there. But I had a terrible addiction that I was trying to get over”

“The rabbit swam with both his paws. He knew that all he had to do was get to the other side. As soon as he did, he would be free from the clutches of the wolf”

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“She skipped into the house with the baked goods. She had worked hard all day, and she knew that she needed a treat”

3 examples of comma before with

“Anna helped her grandmother to do her weekly shopping, with all the good will in the world. She knew that if she didn’t help her, she would end up buying plenty of raffle tickets, but nothing to eat”

“Aaron waters the plants, with a spring in his step, He knew that it would be just a few more weeks before these plants would start flowering and he would have a beautiful garden”.

“The team got started on stopping the villain, with no time to waste. They all knew that if got to build his bomb before 11am, it would quite literally be the end of the world”.

Comma before “with the exception of”

Aside from those two rules, there are some other things we should keep in mind when deciding whether or not to use a comma before “with”.

When you write the phrase “with the exception of”, it’s normally best that you put a comma before the “with”.

So, I would say “I want nobody, with the exception of my family”. Because “with the exception of”is a new phrase, we should put the comma before the “with”.

“I don’t like chocolate, with the exception of that strange stuff I had when I visited Holland”.

It’s rare for there to be a comma before with

Although I managed to get some examples of sentences that used the comma before “with”, in the real world, it’s pretty rare, although not completely unheard of for the word “with” to require a comma in front of it.

Most of the time, when we say “with”, we mean it as a preposition. Therefore, adding a comma in front of it is not something that is usually done. However, you may write a sentence that should have a comma before “with”. And should that ever happen, you must know what the rules are.

The multiple definitions of “with”

Like many seemingly simple words, “with” has several definitions.

Accompanied by

I’m having sausage with chips and bacon.

In harmony

He worked with his wife in the pub.

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Ingredient

I made this cake with apples and oranges.

Employed by

She was with the company for three years.

Despite

He ran the marathon, with a broken leg.

Having

I am with no children of my own.

As we can see, the word “with” is mailable, and the precise definition of it can change depending on what you are trying to say with your sentence. This is why it’s such a common word when you speak to English people.

Alternatives to comma before “with”

If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to put a comma before “with”, here are some ways you can rearrange a sentence to make you happy.

  • Blake pushed the bike, with a sore leg from cycling all day.
  • With a sore leg from cycling all day, Blake pushed the bike.
  • Despite having a sore leg from cycling all day, Blake pushed the bike.
  • Blake pushed the bike, despite having a sore leg from cycling all day.
  • Blake had been cycling all day, his leg was sore. So, he decided to push his bike.

Conclusion

I understand that this was probably one of the most complicated and least straightforward articles we have on this website. But, now that you know the answer, you won’t get confused about whether or not to put a comma before “with”.

Most of the time, the answer is no. The only exception would be if you’re saying “with the exception of” or you’re adding on an explanation or afterthought. But hopefully, we’ve managed to make it seem simple enough that next time you need to know, you’ll remember.

There is no denying that the rules of the comma are not always quite as straightforward as our English teachers once had us believe. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get our language correct as often as we can.

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Comma Before "With" - Here's The Golden Rule + 6 Examples (1)

Martin Lassen

Martin is the founder of Grammarhow.com. With top grades in English and teaching experience at university level, he is on a mission to share all of his knowledge about the English language. Having written thousands of articles, he is an expert at explaining difficult topics in a simple language.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.

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FAQs

What is the comma rule for 6? ›

Put a comma before for, and, not, but, or, yet, so (FANBOYS), when they connect two. independent clauses (complete sentences). When a FANBOY connects two or more independent clauses—word groups that could stand alone as separate sentences—a comma must precede the FANBOY conjunction. •

What are the 8 rules for commas examples? ›

Commas (Eight Basic Uses)
  • Use a comma to separate independent clauses. ...
  • Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase. ...
  • Use a comma between all items in a series. ...
  • Use commas to set off nonrestrictive clauses. ...
  • Use a comma to set off appositives. ...
  • Use a comma to indicate direct address. ...
  • Use commas to set off direct quotations.

Do you use a comma before with? ›

Is a comma necessary before “with”? Since with is a preposition, no commas should generally come before it. What is this? A comma may be placed before with only if it appears as an introductory parenthetical element, either mid-sentence or towards the end.

What are the examples of comma? ›

2. Examples of Comma Use
  • The pet store has cats, dogs, hamsters, fish, and turtles. Listing things.
  • I really wanted cereal this morning, but I didn't have any milk. Connecting clauses.
  • Well, if you really want pancakes, I guess I can make them. Creating pauses.
Jan 14, 2019

What are the 5 uses of a comma? ›

The five uses of the comma are:
  • Separating the main elements of a sentence from each other.
  • Setting off a parenthetical element from the rest of the sentence.
  • Separating elements in a series.
  • Setting off dialogs or quotations.
  • Other uses of the comma.

Which comma rule is used in the sentence? ›

Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Use one comma before to indicate the beginning of the pause and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause.

What is an example of a simple sentence? ›

A simple sentence has the most basic elements that make it a sentence: a subject, a verb, and a completed thought. Examples of simple sentences include the following: Joe waited for the train. The train was late.

What are the 12 comma rules? ›

Share
  • Use a comma to separate items in a list (but beware of the serial comma). ...
  • Use a comma to join independent clauses. ...
  • Use a comma to join a dependent clause and an independent clause. ...
  • Use a comma following an introductory word group. ...
  • Use a comma to interrupt a sentence or to provide additional information.

Can you use a comma in a simple sentence? ›

Simple sentences

A simple sentence contains only one independent clause and no dependent clauses. When a simple sentence contains a conjunction, you might be tempted to insert a comma before the conjunction, as you do with a compound sentence. With a simple sentence, however, the general rule is to omit the comma.

What is the rule for the second comma? ›

COMMA RULE #2 – THE COMMA WITH COORDINATE ADJECTIVES: Use commas between coordinate adjectives. What are “coordinate adjectives”? “Coordinate adjectives” are adjectives placed next to each other that are equal in importance.

Do you put a comma before and after a name in a sentence? ›

The basic idea is that if the name (in the above example, “Jessie”) is the only thing in the world described by the identifier (“my oldest friend”), use a comma before the name (and after it as well, unless you've come to the end of the sentence). If not, don't use any commas.

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