Oh, Comma, Where, Oh Where, Should I Put Thee?
Many well-educated people in today’s society have problems with commas. Not so much if they should use them, but rather where they should place those funny little punctuation marks.
Most grammar experts, either self-proclaimed or otherwise, have differing opinions as to where commas should go. Many successful, prolific authors write, in many cases, as though the comma should be used as often as, “rabbits hoppin’ around at a family reunion.”
However, there are some who only reserve the comma for distinct occasions and treat them as diamonds in the rough!
Commas should be used before the conjunction which joins two independent (or restrictive) clauses, and they must be placed here. Other times comma use is appropriate include when addressing a person, or when the second clause of a sentence is non-restrictive, which is something like this.
Originally, the comma was placed to allow for a breath to be taken when reading a text aloud. It was not a grammatical mark until the 13th century and was widely propagated in the 16th Century by Aldus Manutius.
Here are some rules I follow:
- With introductory words or phrases, a comma should be used.
- When using commas to add information, which the reader might enjoy, commas should be used. However, this is considered to be a non-restrictive clause and does not change the sentence’s meaning.
To sum up, the comma is a mark of punctuation which can change the meaning of a sentence and should be used with care. In future posts, I’ll include other, if not more fascinating, ways to use the comma and common ways it’s abused.
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