Does anyone know of a good web site to learn about punctuating with commas. As I said to a few pen pals, I tend to put them into the story when they shouldn't be there and I omit them when they are begging to get off the bench and into the game. In other words, I am clueless.
I saw a post from Edmund earlier today but it was much too simplistic. I do know it doesn't have to do with whenever you would need to take a breath or pause. There is more to it than that.
I need help. Thanks, in advance. coach moe (See I probably used one right there where it didn't belong. (After thanks and in advance) Yikes
good morning Maureen,
I have saved the site Robbie suggested.
As you well know I need help in that direction. There is a lot to learn on their site.
not sure if it will go in my brain, but i live in hope.
There are only two reasons to use commas, Coach Moe: for logic or to indicate breathing spaces. So we need a comma here for purposes of logic: 'She left in a huff, and a taxi.' If we leave the comma out, the result is funny but illogical. (The misuse of a comma for droll effect is called the 'Oxford comma'.) And we might choose to insert a comma here, to show where the narrator is drawing breath: 'I planted roses, and hyacinths, and foxgloves.' A pedant might delete the last comma but it's important: it adds cadence to the sentence.
If you read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales you'll see that a comma - or its equivalent - is inserted in the middle of every line. That's because, in the Middle Ages, most poems were read aloud. And that's where the narrator would draw breath.
True, we could pontificate endlessly about other uses - and misuses - of a comma. For example, it's clearly wrong to use a comma in place of a full stop (the end of a unit of meaning) or of a semi-colon (an extended pause within a unit of meaning). When in doubt, ask: does the sentence make more sense with a comma or without one? And if you've written a very long sentence, ask: would it be easier on the ear, if I added a comma or two - to suggest where the narrator is drawing breath?
That's my tuppence worth, if you don't mind me snatching a breath
Thank you John, it's a bit late now. But there was a time I remembered, when reading Couch Moe's question, that I too was frantic about commas and colons and what nots. And yet without giving too much attention to them, they fell into step with me and soon started presenting themselves whenever I need them. Some things helped though, and I add this to John's perfect advice afa commas are concerned.
I soon learnt to read everything I write out loud. John hinted at this, but there is little else better than "hearing" what you wrote. Of course you can read it through and still get a sense of what to do and where to place the comma, but then you will still miss the cadence of the sentence, and that is most important; that is what makes your sentence sing ;~) I have an idea John also favors this little known 'fact'.
I also kept al manner of quotes about commas and other 'irrelevant' itch imbibers on my walls around my desk; mottos by writers like Oscar Wilde proclaiming it took him all morning to ad a comma to his writing, and all afternoon to remove it. And one I forgot; a small verse about a person who died but without the wonderful comma, this became total gibberish ~ maybe you remember the one I'm writing about?