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Is There a Comma Before or After Such As?

Updated October 2022: Let’s face it, punctuation is not easy. For example, do you need a comma with the phrase such as? Well, the answer is… sometimes. Place a comma in front of such as only if you’re using it as part of a nonrestrictive clause. A nonrestrictive clause adds additional information to a sentence.  This added information It is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

A graphic giving the definition of a Nonrestrictive Clause: A nonrestrictive clause adds additional information to a sentence, which means the sentence is still true without it. In this way, the commas almost serve as parentheses within the sentence.

Proper Use of a Comma Before Such As

The sentence below shows how to correctly use a comma with such as:

In this zoo, you’ll see many types of animals, such as lions, tigers, penguins and bears.

The phrase such as lions, tigers, penguins and bears is nonrestrictive, so a comma is needed. What does nonrestrictive mean? As our graphic above states, it means the sentence is still true even if you can take the phrase out of it: In this zoo, you’ll see many types of animals.

A graphic explaining that a comma is needed before "such as" when the preceding part of the sentence can stand on its own: "He oversees multiple departments, such as marketing, sales and operation"

Proper Use of Such As Without a Comma

A comma is not needed when such as is part of a restrictive clause.

Animals such as lions and bears cannot be domesticated. 

In this sentence, “such as lions and bears” is a restrictive phrase. You can test it by trying to take it out of the sentence: Animals cannot be domesticated. The sentence is no longer true. 

Examples of Such As in Sentences

Such as is used in a sentence to give specific examples of what you’re talking about. If those examples aren’t essential to the truth of your statement, then use a comma before such as. You will also need to put a comma after the example unless it is at the very end of the sentence.

Earth tones, such as orange and red, look good on you.

We only go out to eat on special occasions, such as birthdays.

Take the commas out if the examples are essential to the meaning of your sentence.

Foods such as fruits and vegetables will help your body stay healthy.

I would like to work in an industry such as hospitality or education.

Further reading:

Is There A Comma Before “Which?”

How To Punctuate The Word “Since”

Using A Comma In Front of While

Posted by Patrice Riley
By Patrice Riley

Patrice Riley is the pen name of Dr. Deborah Riley. She is a retired English professor that enjoys grammar, literature and all things writing.

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