Do You Put a Comma After “For Example”?

The English language is laden with its detailed rules and exceptions, particularly when it comes to punctuation. Among these, the use of commas can often be confusing and can dramatically alter the meaning of a sentence. This article will delve into the correct use of commas following the term "for example."

Getting to Know "For Example"

"For example" is a common English phrase that we often use to introduce an example or series of examples that illustrate a particular point we're making. It serves as a transition phrase, helping to guide the reader from a general statement or idea to a specific illustration of that idea. In grammatical terms, "for example" functions as an adverbial phrase, modifying the whole sentence or clause that follows it.

This phrase is incredibly versatile, and you'll find it in all sorts of writing, from informal emails and blog posts to scholarly articles and formal reports. When used correctly, "for example" can add clarity and richness to your writing, enabling your readers to understand your point more fully.

General Rules for Comma Usage with "For Example"

The term "for example" generally needs to be followed by a comma when it introduces an example. This is because the comma serves to separate the general statement from the specific illustration.

However, there is an exception to this rule. If "for example" is part of the sentence itself and not introducing an example, then it should not be followed by a comma. These are rare occurrences and most of the time, a comma will be necessary.

Examples in Context

To understand the correct usage of "for example" and the associated comma rule, let's look at some sentences.

Without a Comma

Sentence Is the Usage Correct? Explanation
We need to hire someone with skills, for example leadership. No "For example" is introducing an example and hence should be followed by a comma.
I need a large, for example, a 16-ounce coffee. No "For example" should be set off by commas on both sides in this case.
They have many pets for example dogs, cats, and birds. No "For example" is introducing examples and hence should be followed by a comma.

With a Comma

Sentence Is the Usage Correct? Explanation
We need to hire someone with skills, for example, leadership. Yes "For example" is introducing an example and hence is correctly followed by a comma.
I need a large coffee, for example, a 16-ounce one. Yes "For example" is surrounded by commas as it should be in this case.
They have many pets, for example, dogs, cats, and birds. Yes "For example" is introducing examples and hence is correctly followed by a comma.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

One of the common mistakes people make is not using a comma after "for example." As we've seen, the comma is necessary to separate the general statement from the specific examples.

Another mistake is not setting off "for example" with commas on both sides when it is interrupting the flow of the sentence. To avoid making these mistakes, always remember to:

  • Use a comma after "for example" when it introduces an example.
  • Use commas on both sides of "for example" when it interrupts the flow of the sentence.

Quick Recap and Key Takeaways

In summary, the phrase "for example" is generally followed by a comma when it introduces an example. This is because the comma serves to separate the general statement from the specific illustration.

Here are the key rules to remember:

  • Always use a comma after "for example" when it introduces an example.
  • Use commas on both sides of "for example" when it interrupts the flow of the sentence.
  • Avoid using a comma after "for example" when it's part of the sentence itself and not introducing an example.

By following these guidelines, you'll be able to use "for example" correctly and confidently in your writing.

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