When do you put a comma before Which? There’s this confusing part in writing wherein you have to judge whether or not to put a comma before or after a specific word. Commas, no matter how little, are tricky and essential. Misplacing them will impose errors in your text, resulting in a misunderstanding of the relayed thought. One confusing word, regarding its association with commas, is which. The many uses of this word raise the tendency of it being incorrectly used in a text.
Read on this article as it discusses when to put a comma before which. Other sections of this site also offer related discussions in terms of incorporating commas and other punctuations in a text. Feel free to visit those sections, too, to learn more about grammar and sentence construction rules.
When To Use A Comma Before Which
“Which” With Comma
You should use a comma before which if you want to introduce a nonrestrictive clause. A nonrestrictive clause contains additional information that describes a noun or a noun phrase in your sentence. To know if a specific clause is nonrestrictive, try eliminating it from your text. If the elimination does not alter the main point that you want to convey, then the clause is nonrestrictive. Therefore, you have to place a comma before which and put another one after the clause being introduced.
- My phone, which I have been treasuring for almost five years, was snatched by a stranger at the park.
- The leader gave us four challenges, which were built to test our ability to manage stress.
- I chose the vanilla-flavored ice cream, which is my favorite ever since.
If you take the which-clauses from the above examples, you will still have a complete and understandable sentence. This means that the clauses are nonrestrictive and that it is just right to put the commas.
“Which” Without Comma
The word “which” can also be a part of a prepositional phrase. In this case, you do not need to put a comma before it. A prepositional phrase is a group of words that is used to describe a noun or a verb. It consists of a preposition, its object, and any modifier of that object. These phrases include those that start with of which, on which, and in which.
- The bag in which I placed my phone was also taken by the snatcher.
- There were four challenges, the hardest of which was completed last.
- I look at the board on which the ice cream flavors are listed.
Similarly, there’s no need to put a comma before which if it introduces an indirect question. With direct ones, however, the term “which” is usually found at the beginning of the interrogative sentence. So, naturally, you don’t have to place a comma either, unless if you have an introductory phrase before the direct speech. In this context, you have to put a comma before the quotation marks. But in an indirect speech, you don’t have to put quotations. Thus, you also don’t have to place a comma before the which word.
- The police asked me which of the caught suspects is responsible for taking my bag and phone.
- My teammate asked me which of the challenges was the hardest for me.
- My friend cannot decide which flavor to get.