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.”

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Topics: Comma, Oxford 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.

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Topics: Comma, Oxford comma

Embarrassing Grammar Errors in 2016

Posted by Conni Eversull   Dec 28, 2016 7:30:00 AM

All of us made grammar mistakes in 2016, whether we realized and corrected them immediately or still have no idea about them. But for those writers that publish their work in a public forum or those unfortunate souls whose mistakes get passed around on the internet until thousands of people are laughing, these mistakes made for some of the best grammar gaffes this year.

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Topics: typos, typographic errors, headline errors, commas, Oxford comma, grammar errors

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.

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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.

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

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