#Grammar Series – The real purpose of commas

Medieval (1)

It is Tuesday and grammar time on the Sparkle Writer’s Hub. We are talking about commas. 

Commas are not supposed to be used haphazardly in sentences. There are rules guiding the usage of commas in writing. The whole idea behind rules is to prevent lawlessness and disorder in a society. Quite frankly, the wrong use of commas is equivalent to incoherence in your writing, and incoherence. Look at the following example and see the importance of commas;

Let’s eat Grandpa

and

Let’s eat, Grandpa

Now you see that commas can change the entire meaning of a sentence. They are that important and we are going to be looking at the rules guiding the use of commas. These rules will, in turn, unveil the real purpose for commas in writing.

1. Use commas between items in a series because they clarify which items are part of the series

Example: I bought a pair of shoes, socks, a bottle of wine, and butter at the super market yesterday.

2. Use commas in form of coordinating conjunctions (such as and or but) that joins two independent clauses together

Example: I went for a walk in the garden, and I was greeted by the sting of a bee.

In the above example, the sentences or clauses, “I went for a walk in the garden” and I was greeted by the sting of a bee can stand or make complete meaning on their own. Therefore, it is appropriate to place a comma before the conjunction “and” joining them together.

3. Use commas to separate direct quotations from the rest of the sentence.

Example: The lecturer says, “I would be your supervisor for the rest of the semester.”

4. Use commas after a parenthesis and not before one.

Example: After the police found Mabel (my sister’s daughter), the fear that held me bound disappeared.

4. Do not use commas with a question mark and an exclamation point that ends a quotation.

Example: “Where is my flower vase?,” I asked in panic.

In the above example, the comma is wrongly positioned. The right sentence should be rendered as, “Where is my flower vase?” I asked in panic.

Example: “Oh my God!,” Rose exclaimed.

The above example would be right if the comma after the exclamation mark was deleted from the entire sentence structure.

 

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