Monday, October 26, 2015

Comma Happy





Do you use too many commas? I lean in that direction, and it's always evident during the revision process. How is it that something so small can have such great power? As you know, commas indicate a natural pause and help the reader better comprehend our content. They facilitate a satisfying and enjoyable reading experience.

Here's the comma "cheat sheet" I use to keep things straight Maybe you will find it useful too.  

Use a comma to separate adjectives that equally modify a noun. 

Susan was afraid of the big, creepy spiders in the shed. 

To determine if the adjectives equally modify the noun, switch them around. If the sentence is still clear, then they modify equally. 

Susan was afraid of the creepy, big spiders in the shed. 

Use a comma between items in a series. 

Maybelle brought chips, pickles, and potato salad to the picnic. 

Do not use commas when words are separated by or, nor, or and. 

Louise washed the car and hung the laundry and watered the flowers. 

Use a comma to separate parenthetical elements in a sentence. 

Ryan entered the chapel, tardy as usual, and stood next to his bride. 

Use a comma to set off an appositive. An appositive is a word or phrase that explains something. It is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. 

Our vacation home, a rustic and cozy cabin, is located about an hour away. 

Use a comma after an introductory adverb clause. 

After the wedding, Ryan and Megan went on their honeymoon. 

Use a comma with an interjection or to set off an interruption. 

Hey, what am I supposed to do now?  Or,  For him, well, it's just better that way.   

For other comma facts, check out The Most Comma Mistakes by Ben Yagoda. 


Congratulations to C. Lee McKenzie, winner of Ann Gabhart's book giveaway! If you missed last week's fun interview, check it out here.

Are you comma happy? How's your comma quota? 

Happy writing,

Karen


Pumpkin basket photo credit: Free Images 

19 comments :

  1. Thanks for the comma tips. I have to be more careful about using them correctly in my nonfiction writing job.

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  2. I think I use the comma just enough. Too many in a sentence slows it down, so I try to avoid doing that.

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  3. Examples are always the best - thanks!

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  4. Thanks for the examples. It always helps to see sentences where punctuation is used properly!

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  5. I have a love-hate relationship with the comma. I over use or under use depending on my mood! I'm tying to get better at that. :)

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  6. There have been many times when I have pondered the placement of a comma, Karen. Thanks for the, well, the reminder. ha! Susan

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  7. Natalie,
    You are welcome. Yes, non fiction especially needs comma attention, doesn't it? :)

    Diane,
    That's a good point. It really can hinder the reader from the desired impact. :)

    Alex,
    Glad you liked it. I know examples really help me too. Illustrates it better, you know? :)

    Susie,
    Glad you liked them, and glad it helped get the point across. Appreciate you coming by! :)

    Holly,
    You know, I do too. I like them when I use them correctly. Not as much when I am weeding them out! :)

    Susan,
    Me too! Reading it aloud helps me with this sometimes. I like your example! lol :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  8. Hey Karen - I thought commas were to be used before "and" if it precedes an independent clause, i.e. "Lisa loved to write, and she did most of her work on a laptop." As opposed to "Lisa loved to write and did most of her work on a laptop." You didn't include that, so now I'm paranoid I've been doing it wrong. lol Also, is there ever a time when the comma comes after the word "and?"

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  9. Well, yes, I am afraid of big, creepy spiders in the shed. LOL You must have read a few of my FB posts. Commas are the bane of my writing, as my book editor will tell you. I will take your instruction to heart. Have a great week. =0)

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  10. Lisa,
    You made me chuckle - sorry, didn't mean to make you paranoid! You are correct, as far as I know, with your first version of the sentence. But I have seen both done too. This is only meant to be a brief overview to help keep me on track. I'm often pulling The Elements of Style off my shelf! :)

    Susan,
    Well, somehow I knew that! Aren't most of us anyway? LOL I use way too many commas in a first draft. Way too many...:)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  11. Thank you for the reminders. I believe I use commas correctly most of the time. At other times I'm busy taking them in and out.

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  12. I'm way comma happy. Once upon a time I didn't use them at all and that led to reader confusion. My, how we grow over time as writers, eh?

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  13. Thanks so much for this post. I'm actually printing this off to keep reminding myself!

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  14. Great post. I'm actually going to re-read it now...

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  15. Medeia,
    You are welcome. I hear you, I do the pulling commas out thing too. :) Sometimes it's more than others. lol

    Crystal,
    I can be pretty comma happy too. I agree, lack of them can lead to confusion for the reader. Growing, oh yeah, all the time! :)

    Olivia,
    Glad you liked it. This tutorial helps me often, so hope it helps you too. :) Appreciate your input!

    Kelly,
    Thanks so much. Hopefully it will help you like it helps me. :) Glad you stopped by!

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  16. I am comma unsure sometimes. :) I go comma crazy and then I cut back. Then- I think I need to add them back in. Great resource here! :)
    ~Jess

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  17. I meant to swing by here last night, but I was just so doggone tired from being at the hospital. I went to bed and could NOT sleep. I may have gotten 2-3 hours of sleep. Thanks for this cheat sheet. I copied and pasted. I do have trouble with commas, amigo. They haunt me day and night. You rock. Thanks for all your help. xoxoxo

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  18. Jess,
    I am too, and this is why I made a cheat sheet! I still rely on my copy of The Elements of Style too. Glad you found this helpful! :)

    Robyn,
    You're all in my thoughts and prayers. Appreciate you stopping by with so much going on. I'd say you are the one who rocks! Much love! xo

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  19. Hi Karen - I don't understand grammar, though somehow I muddle through ... not sure where it comes from! But am always happy to be advised and to have examples setting the concept out ... cheers Hilary

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!