Friday, May 31, 2013

Those Bugs, Those Pesky Commas

They may not be bugs but commas can be just as pesky. We have to decide when and where we place them, and this is not an easy task. 

Below are a few good rules but remember the overuse of commas can be a major problem. Why? Because they heed the reader. Commas are there to provide the reader with clarity. However, if overdone, it will do just the opposite. Thus, keep in mind this rule:  When in doubt, leave out. 

The Grammar Rules:

One is the use of connecting conjunctions, such as and, but, or, nor, for and yet, with independent and dependent clauses. Independent clauses stand alone and include subjects and verbs. We are visiting Los Angeles. We also plan a side trip to Disneyland. If put together, they need a comma. We are visiting Los Angeles, and we also plan a side trip to Disneyland.
Though, a comma is not required if the independent clauses are short and joined by one of the conjunctions. I’ll go this way and you take that way. 
However, when an independent clause is joined with a dependent clause, such as a clause with an understood subject (we as in this sentence), no comma is necessary. We are visiting Los Angeles and plan to see Disneyland. 
Non-essential clauses (not essential to the meaning of the sentence according to the author’s intent) are set off by commas. Example: Reporters, who do not reread their articles before submitting them, should not complain about their editors' work. 
Long introductory clauses or phrases, need commas. (Remember a phrase is a group of words without a subject or verb.) Beyond the sidewalk and over the bend, there sits a thicket of trees.
Introductory words - yes and no - require commas. Yes, I will be there. In addition, use commas after a direct address like Father, I ... 
Commas in a simple series are disputed. Some grammar books suggest a comma before the last conjunction. My Associated Press Stylebook requires none. The pole was painted red, white and blue.  
A comma is needed after an introductory direct quote. Porter said, “She spent ...” But a direct quote of more than one sentence, a colon is required. And, place a comma after dialogue tags. “Say,” he added, “wouldn’t you like to have your picture taken?” Note: According to my stylebook, commas always go inside quotation marks.
Place commas after an individual’s age. Andrew Porter, 48, ... Use commas also after hometowns and states. Lincoln, Nebraska. AP guidelines use abbreviations for states in journalist writing and require a comma after them. Example:  Andrew Porter, 48, Lincoln, Neb., arrived today.
Well, one more thing. Two adjectives before a noun of equal weight require a comma. Thoughtful, meticulous person ... Otherwise, hyphen the adjectives before the noun, such as an easy-grammar rule, which, of course, is an oxymoron. My suggestion is to have several grammar books at your workplace and always have someone versed in grammar proofread your manuscript. 
Remember to place commas in numbers. When you make your first 300,000 sales, praise the Lord for your success and as always I end with a God bless. 

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