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Chicago Freelance Copywriter

Tag: commas

The Power of the Comma


Do you know why the comma is so powerful? It makes your words readable. With out it you wouldn’t know when to pause and when to take a breath.

Simply: A comma is a punctuation mark that reads like a pause when speaking.

However, the use of the comma isn’t 100% black and white. There are times when it is 100% necessary and other times when it is a matter of taste and style.

For example, an introductory phrase is a matter of preference:

On October 31st I wore a Halloween costume.

On October 31st, I wore a Halloween costume.

The rest of the time, around 70%, you need to know when and where to use it.

An example:

Let’s eat Grandpa!

Let’s eat, Grandpa!

In one sentence you’re eating your grandpa for dinner, in another, you are eating dinner with your Grandpa. In the second instance, the comma saved Grandpa’s life.

There are lots of grammar rules concerning commas.

– Dates

November 8, 2010

– Addresses

1234 Bloggers Lane

Blogville, Illinois 60623

– Serial lists

Eggs, milk, and cheese

Correct punctuation can really change the entire meaning of a sentence. Consider:

Welcome Barbara.

Welcome, Barbara.

The first sentence is a command. The second is an invitation. The difference? One comma.

But I’m not so concerned with the grammar “rules” of commas as how to use them to produce content that is easy to read and makes sense.

So please, be attentive to the comma. And if you’re ever in doubt on whether you need one or not, just read your sentence out loud. Wherever you pause is where your comma belongs.

I really have just hit the top of the iceberg when it comes to commas. But I wasn’t sure anyone could handle more than 300 words on such a little punctuation mark (in size, not grandeur).

For more comma reading check out the following, which will basically answer any comma question you should ever have:

Grammar Girl’s take on commas.

Do you feel passionately about commas?

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Is Proper Grammar Dead?

is-grammar-deadHave you heard the news? Nobody writes anymore! Grammar is going down the tubes! We might as well get rid of commas and apostrophes forever because nobody is going to know how to use them anyway.

Hi, my name is Rebecca, and I am a sensationalist. I would like to state for the record that I think people write more nowadays than they ever have in the past. We used to keep in touch via the phone, and now we keep in touch via email. You know what that means? We have to write!

In my line of work (writing), I tend to get a lot of questions on how important it is to have good grammar in this day and age of constant and instant communication. Isn’t texting ruining the entire English language?

I’m going to be the Debbie downer here (insert wah wah) but I think grammar is still extremely important. In order to deliver your message effectively, people need to know what you’re trying to say. And that’s where grammar comes in. Without the proper punctuation, capitalization, word tense, word choice etc. nobody is going to know what you’re saying (I even use the correct grammar while texting, but I realize that might be taking it too far.)

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but everyone still needs to learn the difference between their, they’re, and there, and know when to use commas, how to use semicolons, and so forth. They can use that knowledge to write content that rocks.

To take this to an even more relevant place is the idea of grammar in blog posts. Again, I’m going to be the bearer of bad news and insist grammar in blogs needs to be as perfect as it would be on a sales letter to a potential client. Because in the grand scheme of things, blog posts are sales letters to potential clients. Aren’t they?

So there are a few thoughts on grammar. I’m going to delve even deeper into grammar next week. If you’ve never read a post on commas that was so relevant and poignant it made you cry, then you haven’t lived.

What are your thoughts on grammar? Does it still matter as much? Do texting and constant emailing, Facebook updates, tweeting etc. make it less necessary? Am I wrong to assert grammar is still as important as it was, if not more so since we write that much more? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

p.s. Did you find any grammar mistakes in here? If so, it was a test. If not, I’m awesome.

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