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.
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.
November 8, 2010
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– Serial lists
Eggs, milk, and cheese
Correct punctuation can really change the entire meaning of a sentence. Consider:
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?
November 29, 2010
[…] 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 […]