Total Pageviews

Monday, June 13, 2011

♪ Down Dooby Do Down Down, Comma Comma..... Breaking Up Is Hard to Do...♪

Did you realize Neil Sedaka used an English grammar term in his lyrics?  No wonder Breaking Up Is Hard to Do is one of my all-time favorite songs!  :)

Speaking of commas (or should that be singing?), I thought it might be helpful for everyone to brush up on four easy comma rules that folks may have forgotten.   So, without further ado (or singing!), here they are.

Cindy's Four Easy Comma Rules

1.  Use a comma after introductory words such as well, yes, no, and why when they begin a sentence.

     Yes, I heard your question.
     Well, I really haven't thought about it.
     No, I don't think I'll go to the movie.
     Why, I can't imagine where I left my keys.

2.  Words used in direct address are set off by commas.

      Mother, did you remember to call Mrs. Johnson?
      Your essay, Martha, was late.
      Will you answer the question, Monica?

3.  Use commas to separate two or more adjectives that modify the same noun.

     Lana is an intelligent, responsible, sensitive director.

4.  Expressions that interrupt, such as parenthetical expressions, are set off by commas.

Many words and phrases are used parenthetically.  Such expressions may serve as explanations or qualifications, but they do not affect the grammatical construction of the sentence in which they appear.  The following list contains a few of the most commonly used parenthetical expressions.

after all
as a matter of fact
by the way
for example
I believe (hope, think, etc.)
in fact
in the first place
on the other hand

     As a matter of fact, I was just going to call you.
     That is, of course, only one opinion.
     Why don't you come, too?

Of course these expressions need not be used parenthetically.  When they are not, do not set them off by commas.

     It is, in my opinion, an excellent book.  (parenthetical)
      Are you interested in my opinion of the book?  (not parenthetical)

A contrasting expression introduced by not is parenthetical and should be set off by commas.

     It is the humidity, not the heat, that is so exhausting.

 *Note -- Rule #4 is often deliberately not followed for several reasons.  First, a writer may omit the commas setting off a parenthetical expression in order to avoid overpunctuating a sentence.  Second, and of great importance, is the writer's intention.  When you wish the reader to pause, to consider the expression as parenthetical, set it off; if not, leave it unpunctuated.  You will always be safe, however, if you follow Rule #4.

May your writing be blessed with appropriate commas, or you might be singing the blues when your editor gets hold of you.

No comments:

Post a Comment