GrammarPhile Blog

What You Need to Know About Comma Usage

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Oct 4, 2018 7:30:00 AM

Has anyone ever told you that you should insert a comma into a sentence every time you take a breath as you read the sentence aloud? Most of us probably have. But that doesn’t mean it’s a grammar rule that should be widely accepted or slavishly followed.  

Below you’ll find more practical and grammatically validated information about comma usage.  

Commas and Conjunctions

Commas should always be used when you’re using coordinating conjunctions to join two independent clauses in a sentence. FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So) is a helpful mnemonic device for remembering common coordinating conjunctions. Those words function as connectors in a sentence.

Example: He wanted to go to the movies, but I wanted to go out to dinner.

Note: Be aware of FANBOYS imposters that are commonly used in sentences, such as “however,” “therefore,” “moreover,” etc. Those words are conjunctive adverbs. Oftentimes when they’re used in between two independent clauses in a sentence, they can be removed to form two complete sentences instead. For example, consider this sentence: “The moon was bright, however, the forest still remained dark.” It can be changed to read: “The moon was bright. The forest still remained dark.”

Read More

Topics: Comma, Oxford comma

Comma Drama, Hyper-Hyphenation, and Dusting Caps

Posted by Yashmyn Jackson   Jul 5, 2018 7:00:00 AM

Brenda, Raj, Tom, and Vickie, who formed the junior sales-and-marketing team at the start-up Awesome Products, Inc., were brainstorming email content with which to advertise their remarkable new dusting cap. Brenda had a sudden flash of inspiration, grabbed the keyboard of the room’s computer, and excitedly started typing. The others looked up at the large monitor that hung along one wall of the room as words quickly appeared there.

“‘Incredibly,’” Tom started reading aloud right away, “‘tall people must duck when walking through doorways.’”

He frowned at Brenda, who had stopped typing. “First of all, why do you think it’s incredible that tall people have to duck? Second, why do you think all tall people have to duck, anyway? I’m tall, and I don’t have to duck when I walk through doorways.”

“That’s not what she typed,” interjected Vickie, who secretly regarded Tom’s height as average. She continued, “Brenda typed, ‘Incredibly tall people must duck when walking through doorways.’”

Not noticing Brenda nodding, Tom threw a gentle smile at Vickie. “You forgot to pause after ‘Incredibly.’ You see, there’s no hyphen connecting ‘Incredibly’ and ‘tall.’ So you don’t read them together.”

Read More

Topics: hyphenation, hyphen, Comma

The Oxford Comma: Use It or Ditch It?

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Jul 13, 2017 7:30:00 AM

Should using the Oxford comma (also known as the “serial comma”) be a requirement? This is one of the most heated debates in the realm of grammar today. This debate exists not just among writers, but large institutions too. There's even a Twitter account dedicated to asking celebrities about their choice to use (or not use) the Oxford Comma, @CelebrityOxford. Margaret Atwood, the noted author and literary critic, recently disclosed her thoughts on the topic there.

Read More

Topics: Comma, Oxford comma

The Great Grammar Debate: Results Are Surprisingly Lopsided

Posted by Terri Porter   Oct 20, 2016 7:00:00 AM

 

In the aftermath of the final showdown last night between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, we offer a different kind of post-debate coverage — a look into where our readers stand on three grammar, style and usage questions that have long generated controversy … and apparently still do to some extent. Here, we present a summary of the responses from last week’s poll, along with a sampling of the numerous comments we received.

The results for all three questions were heavily skewed to one side, but the arguments for both sides of each issue were reasonable, on point and well-articulated. Most of the 123 respondents staunchly defended their position, but more than a few surprisingly acknowledged they could go either way or that they had changed their views after a longtime adherence to the opposite position.

Read More

Topics: grammar, subjunctive form, Comma, Oxford comma, spacing

The Great Grammar Debate: Where Do YOU Stand?

Posted by Terri Porter   Oct 13, 2016 7:30:00 AM

 

Given the hullabaloo that marked the first two presidential debates, which undoubtedly will continue through the final face-off next week and beyond, now seems a good time to look at a different kind of debate — those controversial grammar, style and usage questions that can incite even the most reserved among us to dig in, square off and argue our position to the end.

We present three of the many issues that rankle grammar and style arbiters far and wide, along with the primary arguments for each side, then ask you, our audience, to weigh in. In addition to recording your vote on each issue, you’ll have an opportunity to comment on why you prefer one approach over the other (assuming you have a choice and aren’t bound by, say, a company style guide). There are no right or wrong answers — we’re just curious to see where people land on these questions. Post-election results and commentary to follow in next week’s post.

Read More

Topics: grammar, subjunctive form, Oxford comma, Comma, spacing

Subscribe to Email Updates

Sign up for our emails!

Sign Up

Search Our Blog

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all