Comma Before Which: Confused about using a comma before which?. Well, using which can be very tricky, right? Whenever we write a sentence in the English language, we have to face this type of problem. We cannot even ignore this thing because it is very important to use.
Commas are punctuation marks and easily can be seen anywhere in text or paragraph. It is used to pause any sentence so that the reader can easily understand it. But putting commas in a text can also be very challenging. So roll your eyes to our complete guide, which will tell you perfectly when to put a comma before Which.
You must be thinking that experienced writers do not face such problems of using commas before a word “which” while writing, but it is not completely true. Even they sometimes find it hard to place it in any text. That’s why to avoid similar problems, you must know how to use it properly. Once you know these rules well, you will never face any problem using commas before which.
- Which – an Introduction
- Useful Terms
- When To Use A Comma Before Which
- Restrictive Clause/ Defining Clause: Don’t Use Comma
- Prepositional Phrases: No Comma Required
- No Comma Is Required While Forming The Questions
- FAQ’s on Comma Before Which
- Conclusion on Comma Before Which
Well, “which” is a relative determiner and a relative pronoun that introduces relative clauses. You must have read about relative pronouns in English, such as whom,
who, which, and that. These are very common relative pronouns and can be seen everywhere while reading or writing. Apart from that, for representing the main antecedent which is used in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses relatively.
A nonrestrictive phrase is usually known for including information that is not compulsory. Means it doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence. It gives you a bonus detail. A nonrestrictive phrase defines a thing that is understood.
I don’t need low-quality products, which break easily.
In the above example, you can see an additional detail (break easily), which is not compulsory.
A restrictive phrase is a clause that can change the meaning of a sentence and works as an identifier. Generally, when a noun precedes it, it modifies that noun. So don’t remove them.
Pizza is a food that she likes to eat.
In the above example, that she likes to eat is an adjective restrictive clause with the subject she. Here the noun Pizza is being modified by giving some information about it.
Whenever we refer to any previously mentioned things, then “which” is used there normally. “Which” is used to explain the hidden things that are informative to the reader. While writing any text, when we use which, we often make a nonrestrictive phrase. And this is where you have to use the comma. Use only one comma if it’s used in the last phrase. Also, wherever you see this word in between two sentences, you have to use two commas.
Its speciality here is that if you remove this word from the sentence, the sentence does not remain incomplete. In simple words, it does not affect any sentence.
See the below examples:
- Burj Khalifa, which has 160 floors, holds the world record for the largest number of floors.
- Those important papers, which you gave to me yesterday, have been torn by mistake.
- The popular Mediterranean Sea, which is also called the incubator of Western civilization, has over 3,000 islands.
- The Qutub Minar, which is known as the highest tower in India, was built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in 1193.
- Eiffel tower, which Gustave Eiffel built, is 985 feet tall.
- Riya’s beautiful house, which is very costly, attracts every tourist.
- Justin’s new song, which he spent three years writing, is now a huge hit.
- Director liked Rebecca’s music video, which she had sung in her college.
In the above eight examples, one can remove the clauses/phrases because removing them won’t affect the sentences. We call them nonrestrictive phrases/clauses because they are free, not restricted by the rest of the sentence.
See below for better understanding –
- Burj Khalifa holds the world record for the largest number of floors.
- Those important papers have been torn by mistake.
- The popular Mediterranean Sea has over 3,000 islands.
- The Qutub Minar was built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in 1193.
- The Eiffel tower is 985 feet tall.
- Riya’s beautiful house attracts every tourist.
- Justin’s new song is now a huge hit.
- Director liked Rebecca’s music video.
- The shoes which I ordered online were a bit costly.
- The book which I purchased was worth reading.
In the above examples, you are not required to use a comma because that will completely change the sentence’s meaning.
Suppose you see a preposition before a word which you don’t need to use a comma there. A prepositional phrase is made of a preposition and a noun/pronoun, which works as the preposition’s object in a text.
The most common propositions are- above, against, by, from, in, beneath, into, near, off, on, across, toward, under, upon, with, among, around, at, before, behind, to, below, beside and along.
Well, this how which looks when it’s written with a preposition-
- in which
- on which
- With which
- about which
- during which
- after which
- over which
- around which
- at which
- By which
- of which
- from which
If you see the use of this word anywhere in this form or way, then do not use a comma.
Let see some of the examples below
- They heard five songs, the longest of which played 7 minutes long. (wrong use )
- They heard five songs, the longest of which played 7 minutes long. (correct use)
- That bag in which the chocolates were kept was lost yesterday. (improper use).
- That bag in which the chocolates were kept was lost yesterday. (correct use)
- The stage on which we danced was broken, unfortunately. (wrong use )
- The stage on which we danced was broken, unfortunately. (correct use)
- Suddenly, she began to undo the knots of the clothes by which she was bound tightly. (wrong use)
- Suddenly, she began to undo the knots of the clothes by which she was bound tightly. (correct use)
- This is the famous ground, which she used to play football. (wrong use )
- This is the ground on which she used to play football. (correct use)
- Rachelle saw a crime show in which a man killed his friends. (wrong use )
- Rachelle saw a crime show in which a man killed his friends. (correct use)
- The new city to, which Kyle Jennette moved was completely different. (wrong use )
- The new city to which Kyle Jennette moved was completely different. (correct use)
- This is the university from, which henna graduated was highly reputed. (wrong use )
- This is the university from which henna graduated was highly reputed. (correct use)
So there are some examples above that have been shown properly to you to understand this topic clearly.
Don’t use commas for both direct and indirect questions or “which” is used to form a question.
Let’s see this interrogative pronoun’s examples below, which is for direct questions.
- With which friend will you go there?
- Could she tell him which car she likes?
- Which bags do you like to buy?
- Which pencil would you like to purchase?
- Which jeans should John buy?
- Which clothes did you buy from that market?
- Which phone brands do you prefer, Motorola or Samsung?
- Which one are you, sir?
- Which city is most polluted?
- Which flavour do you prefer often?
So after the above examples, here comes the next situation when written text is an indirect question.
- Rache asked Samantha, which shoes she should buy. (wrong use)
- Rachel asked Samantha which shoes she should buy. (correct use)
- Mykle asked his son, which keys he had lost. (wrong use)
- Mykle asked his son which keys he had lost.
- I asked my mom, which jacket was sold. (wrong use)
- I asked my mom which jacket was sold. (correct use)
- She asked Uncle, which candy she should take. (wrong use)
- She asked Uncle which candy she should take. (correct use)
- We should always put a comma before which if it introduces a nonrestrictive phrase/non-defining clause.
- We should not put a comma before it if “which” makes an indirect question.
- We should not put a comma before which if it is a prepositional phrase’s part.
So now, you must have understood this clearly that you can not put a comma before that if ‘which is used with a restrictive clause, you don’t need to put a comma before that.
Nonrestrictive clauses are used with which, and restrictive clauses are used with that.
Should I always use a comma before which?
Well, we will say no because it is only possible when it introduces a nonrestrictive phrase. So you are requested to use it at that place only.
The rules we have followed for which the same rules have to be followed for other relative pronouns such as whose, who and where. From the whole article, we know that there is only one possible way to use a comma before which. In simple words when you are free to use a comma even after removing the phrase. On the contrary, there are many places where we don’t need to place a comma.
When you learn to use these rules perfectly, then your articles will be very surpassing and understandable. Also, a reader will understand your feelings/connotation in a better way. We hope our guide ‘when to put a comma before Which’ helped you in some way to understand this topic. After reading all the points and headings written above, it is confirmed that it is not as difficult as we assumed.