Rule 1: You can place a comma before and after “namely” when it precedes a list or when you use it to clarify a previously made point.
- Correct: She adores Mexican food, namely, tacos, quesadillas, and mole.
- Correct: She adores Mexican food, namely tacos, quesadillas, and mole.
Rule 2: You should always put a comma after “namely” and a semicolon before it when it precedes an independent clause.
- Correct: He enjoys preparing Japanese food; namely, he loves making sushi.
- Incorrect: He enjoys preparing Japanese food, namely, he loves making sushi.
Rule 3: You should use a comma before “namely” when it is the first word in a subordinate element.
- Correct: He has expertise is carpentry, namely, tables, but he works in sales.
- Correct: He has expertise is carpentry, namely tables, but he works in sales.
Do you want to learn more about when to use a comma before and after “namely” and see some additional examples? In the rest of the article, we’ll explain the rules in more detail.
When to Use a Comma Before and After “Namely”
In this section, you can learn more about when to use a comma before and after “namely.”
Rule 1: You can put a comma after “namely” when you use it to clarify something from the preceding text or when it introduces a list.
For this structure, you will also need to include a comma before the word “namely” to indicate that it is a non-essential element in the sentence.
- I am a fan of international cuisine, namely, French, Mexican, and Korean, and I eat out often.
If the clause is not a list, the comma after “namely” is optional. This is because you can remove the “namely clause” and the sentence is still correct. Therefore, you need a comma before it and at the end of the element:
- Some smartphones, namely iPhones, are notoriously difficult to repair.
Furthermore, when introducing a list, people often incorrectly add a colon after “namely.” A colon essentially has the same meaning as the word “namely,” so there is no need to repeat the fact that you are introducing a list.
Rule 2: You should always use a comma after “namely” when it comes directly before an independent clause.
In these instances, you should also use a semicolon before “namely.”
- My family always enjoys the holidays; namely, we enjoy eating Christmas dinner and exchanging gifts.
- He works in IT; namely, he buys old computers that he refurbishes before selling them.
Rule 3: You should use a comma before “namely” when it starts a non-essential element. The comma after “namely” is optional.
In this sentence, we can remove the word “namely” and the names of the people. Therefore, you should use a comma before “namely,” and you can add a comma after “namely” to indicate a pause:
- Several people were responsible for the vandalism, namely, breaking windows, which the security guards caught.
Here’s another example where “namely” is used in parentheses. In this case, you should place a comma after “namely”:
- We will paint the bathroom in several colors (namely, dark shades) when I get the time.
When to Avoid a Comma With “Namely”
When Rule 4 applies, you should avoid using a comma with “namely.”
Rule 4: You shouldn’t use a comma with “namely” when referring directly to the word.
It is not common for people to use “namely” in this way. Nonetheless, in the following sentences, a comma is not required:
- The word namely is an adverb used to add information to a sentence.
- In written English, usage of the term namely has declined since 1900.
Use a comma after “namely” and a semicolon before when an independent clause follows it. E.g. “He enjoys preparing food; namely, he loves making sushi.” Include a comma before and after when “namely” is part of a non-defining element or a list. E.g. “I like food, namely, kebabs and pizza.”