Do We Put a Comma Before “With”?

Understanding when to use a comma before “with” in sentences is crucial for clear and effective communication. This guide will explore the rules and provide examples to help you master the use of commas in different scenarios involving “with.”

When to Use a Comma Before “With”

When to Use a Comma Before "With"

Rule 1: Connecting Independent Clauses

Correct Usage:

  • I finished the report, with the help of my team.
  • The garden was blooming, with every flower showing its colors.

Incorrect Usage:

  • I finished the report with the help of my team.
  • The garden was blooming with every flower showing its colors.

Explanation: A comma is used before “with” when it precedes a non-essential clause that adds extra information to the sentence.

Rule 2: Beginning Sentences

Correct Usage:

  • With determination, she reached her goals.
  • With the morning sun rising, the city awoke.

Incorrect Usage:

  • With determination she reached her goals.
  • With the morning sun rising the city awoke.

Explanation: When “with” introduces a sentence, it is usually followed by a comma, especially if the phrase it introduces is a distinct introductory element.

Rule 3: Indicating a Degree of Manner

Correct Usage:

  • She sang, with a voice as clear as a bell.
  • He worked, with intensity, to meet the deadline.

Incorrect Usage:

  • She sang with a voice as clear as a bell.
  • He worked with intensity to meet the deadline.

Explanation: Use a comma before “with” when it introduces a phrase that adds an explanation about how something is done.

Rule 4: Listing Elements

Listing Elements

Correct Usage:

  • We packed the car with blankets, snacks, and, with excitement, began our road trip.
  • The recipe called for flour, sugar, and, with a final addition, vanilla extract.

Incorrect Usage:

  • We packed the car with blankets, snacks and with excitement began our road trip.
  • The recipe called for flour, sugar and with a final addition vanilla extract.

Explanation: In lists, a comma before “with” is necessary only if “with” introduces a phrase that is part of a series or an afterthought.

Rule 5: Without a Direct Object

Correct Usage:

  • The room was filled with laughter and joy, with everyone feeling festive.
  • The contract was signed, with both parties in agreement.

Incorrect Usage:

  • The room was filled with laughter and joy with everyone feeling festive.
  • The contract was signed with both parties in agreement.

Explanation: When “with” introduces a phrase that adds to the sentence but does not directly follow from the main clause, use a comma.

Rule 6: Clarifying a Subject

Clarifying a Subject

Correct Usage:

  • The artist, with her unique style, won the award.
  • The CEO, with years of experience, made the announcement.

Incorrect Usage:

  • The artist with her unique style won the award.
  • The CEO with years of experience made the announcement.

Explanation: Use a comma before “with” when it introduces a non-restrictive clause that provides additional information about the subject.

Rule 7: With Contrast or Opposition

Correct Usage:

  • It was sunny, with clouds appearing unexpectedly.
  • The project was successful, with minor setbacks along the way.

Incorrect Usage:

  • It was sunny with clouds appearing unexpectedly.
  • The project was successful with minor setbacks along the way.

Explanation: A comma is used before “with” when it introduces a contrasting element or an opposition to the main clause.

Rule 8: After Introductory Phrases

Correct Usage:

  • After dinner, with dishes cleaned, we watched a movie.
  • In the morning, with the sun shining, she went for a run.

Incorrect Usage:

  • After dinner with dishes cleaned, we watched a movie.
  • In the morning with the sun shining, she went for a run.

Explanation: When “with” follows an introductory phrase, use a comma to separate it from the main sentence.

Rule 9: With Incidental Information

Correct Usage:

  • The book, with its torn cover, was still valuable.
  • The house, with a large backyard, was perfect for them.

Incorrect Usage:

  • The book with its torn cover was still valuable.
  • The house with a large backyard was perfect for them.

Explanation: Use a comma before “with” when it introduces incidental or additional information that could be omitted without changing the main sentence’s meaning.

Rule 10: With Non-Essential Appositives

Correct Usage:

  • My friend, with whom I traveled last summer, moved to New York.
  • The movie, with its unexpected twist, surprised everyone.

Incorrect Usage:

  • My friend with whom I traveled last summer moved to New York.
  • The movie with its unexpected twist surprised everyone.

Explanation: A comma is necessary before “with” when it introduces a non-essential appositive that provides extra information about a noun.