Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Make Friends with Commas

One of you lovely readers petitioned for more information on comma use and I happily am complying with that request today. This much-abused piece of punctuation (overworked by me as much as many) can use all of the help it can get.

At I found a straightforward page of comma and semicolon rules. Writers know most of these rules already, like using a comma to set off a clause with one of the FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). The rules that govern how you separate phrases give people the most trouble.

If you find yourself liberally sprinkling commas over every sentence, try a trick that has helped me rein in my excesses: write without any commas. Once you’ve got a paragraph written, go back and insert only those commas that your sentence structures require.

Many writers insert commas where they pause in their thoughts when composing sentences. Break that habit and you will find that you use far fewer commas, and that you can see how to use them correctly. Remove the comma clutter from your writing and review the rules on the link above. The humble comma can be your friend instead of a foe.




I think of commas as pauses in the spoken word.

Of course, that also leads some people to complain that I use too few of them, but I tend to be a bit of a freak with what works for me. (Being a naturally concise writer who has to add things later; cold beverages putting me to sleep; drinking hot water wakes me up, etc.)

Oh, re: spacing, you might want to take another glance at this post. Your last two paragraphs are missing the space in-between. (A "{br /}" tag, with the arrow brackets that I don't currently feel like looking up the HTML entities for so I can post 'em properly…)




Thank you. I look forward to digging around in your archives. :)



Thanks to both of you. I fixed the spacing for the last two paragraphs. For some reason using the block quote tags makes me unable to get the rest of a post right. That's probably why I don't normally use it!

I'm a sprawl-writer. I spend most of my editing time slicing and dicing the bloated vegetable I've written into a lovely radish rose. (Perhaps that image doesn't work - that would make my writing sharp and tasty but good with dip and liable to stain your fingertips.) [snerk]

John C


This helps me much. I have a hard time staying 'on task'. Sometimes I lose focus and banter into three different subjects. This happens when I forget that oral communication is so different from written.

Thank you.