For such a bit punctuation mark, the comma causes an terrible lot of confusion.
Some writers are too liberal with commas, sprinkling them about like nuts on an ice cream sundae. Different writers hoard their commas and keep away from utilizing them at any time when doable.
Why are these punctuation marks so extensively misused? Why are we, collectively, so inconsistent about the place we place them? One model information says use them, one other says don’t use them. Even the consultants can’t agree!
However there are some guidelines about comma utilization that we are able to all observe and agree on.
A comma usually signifies a pause, however some pauses happen with none help from commas. In reality, one of many greatest errors folks make is to easily place a comma wherever they need the reader to pause. In pure speech all of us pause at completely different locations, so this isn’t a prudent approach to determine the place your commas go. As a substitute, let’s look to the principles.
Sadly, the principles surrounding commas aren’t all the time clear. Comma placement is usually a matter of favor and private (or editorial) alternative. One might write a complete e book on find out how to use commas successfully and accurately. At the moment, we’re simply going to have a look at the fundamental guidelines.
Commas are principally used to separate, join, and set off parts in a sentence:
- Use a comma to separate three or extra parts in a collection (together with gadgets in an inventory). The comma that comes earlier than the conjunction in an inventory is named the serial comma, and it’s advisable however solely required if it’s vital for readability.
- A comma ought to be used to separate coordinate adjectives. Coordinate adjectives are a collection of adjectives that modify a single noun (in “the large, black canine,” large and black are coordinate adjectives).
- Use a comma to separate contrasting parts and if-then statements. Right here’s a contrasting assertion: I’m writing a e book, not an essay. Right here’s an if-then assertion: If I write a e book, then I must promote it.
- Use a comma earlier than a conjunction to attach unbiased clauses. A straightforward approach to keep in mind find out how to establish an unbiased clause is that it might stand alone as a sentence (a dependent clause can’t). Right here’s extra info on commas and clauses.
- Commas ought to be used to set off introductory parts, quick phrases that introduce sentences. Right here’s an instance with the introductory component in italics: As I used to be writing, I gave cautious consideration to comma placement.
- Use commas to set off parenthetical parts. A parenthetical component usually offers additional however pointless info and may very well be deleted with out altering the core which means of a sentence. Right here is an instance with the parenthetical component proven in italics: The author made an inventory of books she needed to learn, principally books on grammar, after which proceeded to organize them. Parenthetical parts consists of names: The author, Jane, needed to learn lots of books.
- Commas are closely used with citation marks. They need to be positioned after a dialogue tag when the dialogue follows the tag and ought to be positioned on the finish of the dialogue when the tag comes after the dialogue.
The largest mistake writers make is utilizing a comma for a pause. Some persons are truly taught to learn their work aloud after which simply place commas the place all of the pauses go (simply interested by it makes me shudder). That’s surefire approach to get your manuscript all marked up in pink by your editor. And if you happen to don’t have an editor, it’s a surefire approach to drive readers loopy.
Too many punctuation marks in an article are like rocks within the readers’ footwear. They’re distracting and uncomfortable. Too few punctuation marks are like sporting footwear with out traction on a slippery flooring. Readers will slide all over and have hassle following your concepts.