Commas tend to be one of the most challenging grammatical concepts. However, some rules govern the usage of commas, especially using a comma before “such as” in a sentence.
Knowing how to use such as punctuation is vital because it can easily affect the meaning of a sentence. Determining if to use a comma before such as needs a thoughtful analysis.
However, it’s straightforward to understand how to use a comma before, “such as” if you know how to identify nonrestrictive/nonessential and restrictive clauses. Ideally, such as commas should be inserted in sentences with nonrestrictive clauses.
Essential or restrictive clauses
Essential clauses form a vital part of a sentence because they add meaning to the entire idea. If removed, the sentence may lose its meaning and distort the context. An essential clause is often introduced within a sentence by words such as that, which, or who.
If “such as” is a part of the essential clause, you don’t need to use a comma.
Animals such as goats and cats have four limbs.
If you remove “such as goats and cats” in this sentence, it would mean that all animals have four limbs which is not true.
Fruits such as pineapples and mangoes have a sweet flavor.
Continents such as Africa have vast numbers of tourists from Europe.
A nonrestrictive or nonessential clause is part of a sentence that doesn’t affect its meaning if it is removed.
After removing the part of the sentence that begins with “such as,” if the meaning does not change, you should use commas. The comma is required to make the fact clear, and it joins the two-sentence parts together.
Health workers, such as public health practitioners, have to attend seminars every month.
You can omit the nonessential clause “such as public health practitioners,” and the remaining part of the sentence still has its meaning.
We specialize in tropical fruits, such as papayas and oranges.
You’re likely to find many vehicles, such as cars and Lories, in the parking.