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Comma before “such as”: The Ultimate Guide

Comma before “such as”: The Ultimate Guide

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Some people would say that speaking is more difficult than writing, while others claim the other way around.

The most notorious concerns related to writing challenges revolve around the punctuation system, especially commas.

And thus, this meanwhile suggests that probing on the nooks and crannies of how commas operate should also be the best solution.

This post has been particularly crafted to clear up the confusion on the comma usage before “such as.”


Is a comma always necessary before “such as?”

Placing a comma before “such as” is only necessary when it introduces a parenthetical remark either in the middle or at the end of the sentence. A parenthetical remark refers to any information that has only been added to a perfectly grammatical sentence in order to pepper it with extra ideas for clarity and emphatic purposes. This means that the removal of the information introduced by “such as” would still entail the maintenance of the general, intended meaning of the writer, but it would make the statement less specific than with using the such-as remark.


Comma after “such as”: In-depth Guide

Using “such as” in a sentence suggests a writer’s intention to clarify and particularize the meaning of a general idea.

“Such as” is either used to introduce examples of elements or express a comparison of items.

When a writer aims to provide examples or comparisons, it suggests that the writer is assuming that the point of the statement may not be clear enough without one.

Apparently, this implies that the writer may either treat the examples or comparisons as either highly critical to the holistic meaning of the statement or only as additional elements.

These additional sentence elements fall under what we can call parenthetical information, whose meaning is grammatically nonrestrictive or nonessential to the rest of the sentence.

Nonrestrictive information necessitates a pre-comma placement so as to represent it separately from the rest of the sentence.

One key element to bear in mind regarding the nonrestrictive “such as” is the information preceding it, which is often an already-specified noun or noun phrase.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how this non-restrictive or parenthetical information behaves in two different parts of a sentence.


When “such as” introduces mid-sentence parenthetical information

As mentioned, we need to refer to the nominal word or words preceding “such as” to know if we are introducing an element that only adds meaning to the statement.

Let’s start with an easy example of using “such as” halfway through the sentence.

Three-letter words, such as “dog” and “cat,” take the consonant-vowel-consonant or CVC pattern.

Ostensibly enough, the subject “three-letter words” is specific enough to express the intended meaning clearly.

Therefore, removing the information introduced by “such as” would not significantly change the meaning and well-formedness of the statement.

Three-letter words take the consonant-vowel-consonant or CVC pattern.

Here’s one more example to make things clearer.

Dehumanizing words, such as “inyenzi” and “inzoka,” played a pragmatically significant role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide (Tirell, 2012).

The information introduced by “such as” was added to provide examples to the preceding noun phrase “dehumanizing words.”

If the subject was only “words,” something that’s too broad to be understood, the such-as phrase would have been treated as restrictive information, which in turn, would not need the pre-comma.

(More details on restrictive information will be explained later.)

For now, let’s have a look at using the parenthetical or nonrestrictive “such as” at the end of the sentence.


When “such as” introduces end-sentence parenthetical information

Obviously enough, the same principle applies to this sentence structure, which, at this point, should be a bit clearer already.

Placing “such as” towards the end of the sentence means that the information it introduces corresponds to the object of the sentence, rather than the subject.

Here’s an example.

Helen has been binge-watching stand-up shows of Canadian comedians, such as Russel Peters and Howie Mandel.

In the same vein, the object “Canadian comics” is particular enough, and thus, the examples given were only added to specify it even further.

Again, removing the such-as information would not hurt the meaning and grammatically of the remaining elements.

Helen has been binge-watching stand-up shows of Canadian comedians.

Now that we have discussed the conditions necessitating the pre-comma placement, let’s also check out what makes the comma insertion incorrect.


The incorrect comma placement before “such as”

The term “restrictive information” has been briefly explained earlier, which is the complete opposite of parenthetical or non-restrictive ones.

If the nonrestrictive information depends on a specific preceding subject or object, restrictive details are also dependent on general nouns or noun phrases.

This simply means that the general information entails the presence of other particularizing elements to make sense.

We may position the restrictive “such as” either in the middle or at the end of a sentence, too.


When “such as” introduces mid-sentence restrictive information

Adding a comma before any restrictive information is grammatically incorrect, as the information is critical or integral to the whole meaning of the statement.

And, the key to determining whether “such as” introduces restrictive information is to go back to the noun it precedes.

Only this time, the preceding noun, also called an antecedent, should be a generic or common name.

Here’s how to do that.

Musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27.

The reference to the subject “musicians” is generic because, clearly, there are just too many musicians in the world.

However, to illustrate the distinction of this guideline to the earlier section,  here’s one way to paraphrase the sentence to make the “such as” information non-restrictive.

Musicians who died at the age of 27, such as Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Jimi Hendrix, are still remembered by many at present.

In the example above, the such-as information was added to add representative elements to the specified subject “musicians who died at the age of 27.”


When “such as” introduces end-sentence restrictive information

Lastly, we may also find the restrictive such-as at the end of the sentence which does not need the aid of a pre-comma to be textually represented.

He still listens to songs such as Eminem’s Lose Yourself and Tupac’s Life Goes On.

The information introduced by “such as” is linked with the object “songs,” which is too broad to be understood by the reader.

Therefore, removing the trailing information would make the remaining parts contextually empty, albeit grammatically well-formed.

He still listens to songs.

Here’s one last example to finalize this guideline.

To scuba dive, you need equipment such as a scuba tank, a pressure gauge, and a diving mask.

In the example above, all the words all the examples correspond to the word “equipment,” which is a generic noun that necessitates further details to make sense.


Frequently Asked Questions on Comma Before “Such As”


How can we use “as such” in a sentence?

“As such” is used to emphasize the meaning or sense of a previously mentioned idea, as well as to avoid repetition, as in: She said she isn’t against the idea of tipping as such, but she simply thinks that it is not good to do it all the time.


Should a comma come after “such as?”

No, a comma should not be placed right after “such as” when it is introducing examples. However, a comma may come before “such as” instead when it introduces information that is nonrestrictive to the holistic meaning of the entire sentence.


When do we need a comma before “as well as?”

A comma before “as well as” should be placed when it introduces a parenthetical or non-restrictive remark, which means additional information, either midway or towards the end of the sentence. 


The existence of the phrase “such as” allows us to include sentential elements that could either be critically or emphatically integral to the holistic meaning of the statement.

Meanwhile, commas allow the writer to clearly express whether the intended idea is essential or nonessential to the complete sentence.

And hence, the knowledge of both concepts is integral in the conveyance of the writer’s thoughts, which serves as an invisible bridge that connects him or her to the reader.