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?
Pumpkin basket photo credit: Free Images