Do We need a Comma Before 'Such As'?

A comma (,) before such as is required if the clause that follows is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Do not put a comma before such as if the second clause is essential to the meaning of your sentence.

A comma (,) before such as is required if the group of words that follows is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

I love Italian food, such as spaghetti and pizza.

In this case, spaghetti and pizza are just examples to illustrate the sentence, but they are not essential to its meaning. If I say: "I love Italian food", the meaning of the sentence would be basically the same. "Such as spaghetti and pizza" illustrates the idea, but it is not necessary to understand it.

Do not put a comma before such as if the second part of the sentence is essential.

I love food such as spaghetti and pizza.

In this case, the main clause ("I love food") does not provide enough information to understand what you are trying to say. The words "spaghetti" and "pizza" are essential to figure out the type of food you like.

Another example:

Sports such as boxing and rugby are dangerous.

This sentence is correct. If you take out "such as boxing and rugby", the sentence does not provide the right information. You must omit the comma here because only a number of sports are dangerous, not all of them.

Some sports, such as boxing and rugby, are dangerous.

This sentence is also correct. If you take out "such as boxing and rugby", the sentence is complete and meaningful. In this case, the words boxing and rugby are not essential. They are examples to illustrate the idea that only some sports (not all) are dangerous, so you need a comma before such us.

Recommended: Comma Usage in simple lists

How a comma before 'such as' transforms the meaning of a sentence

Let's examine these sentences:

  • Insects, such as butterflies and bees, are beautiful creatures. (with comma)
  • Insects such as butterflies and bees are beautiful creatures. (without comma)

In the first sentence (with comma), we are saying that all insects are beautiful creatures. Butterflies and bees are just examples of insects, that is, nonrestrictive or nonessential information, so no comma required.

In the second sentence (without comma), we are saying that only some insects, like butterflies and bees, are beautiful creatures. The second part ("butterflies and bees") is important to know the types of insects you are talking about.

"For example" and "such as" (with commas) are synonyms. In this case, the use of commas with "for example" follows the same rules.

"Including" is also a closely related word that can frequently be used instead of "such as". Follow the same guidelines to decide whether to add a comma before "including" in a sentence.

More Examples

  • Markets such as the auto industry and technology are highly competitive.
  • Some markets, such as technology and manufacturing, are highly competitive.
  • Symptoms such as bloating and constipation may be caused by bacterial overgrowth.
  • Alcoholic drinks, such as beer, vodka and rum, are not healthy for your liver.
  • Florida is exposed to natural hazards such as intense rains and cyclones.
  • Fried foods, such as potato chips and chicken nuggets, are significantly higher in calories than their non-fried counterparts.
Share this article: Link copied to clipboard!

You might also like...

Do You Need a Comma With 'PLEASE'?

When to Use a Comma With 'Regularly'

When to Use a Comma With 'Commonly'