Got a Comma? Need a Comma?

comma-jar-copy

When you check out at the store, there’s a little dish with a sign asking for excess pennies or inviting you to use a penny or two if you are short. Why not do the same with commas?

Commas are always a bit tricky. There are so many exceptions to rules that, it turns out, aren’t really hard and fast rules.

When it comes to dependent clauses, the exceptions are rarer than most people think. Just put one in if the dependent clause comes before its independent clause, and leave it out if it follows the independent clause.

I’m worried about the state of writing, because commas are running rampant.

The comma in this sentence needs to come out and go into the comma jar. Writers (and editors) can dip into the jar when they see this sentence:

Because commas are running rampant I’m worried about the state of writing.

If I corral my commas into one place, I can avoid tripping over them throughout my office. They tend to hang out with the feral paper clips.

I’ve got a bit of room next to my monitor. It’s a perfect place for my comma jar. Where will you put yours?

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5 thoughts on “Got a Comma? Need a Comma?

  1. What about commas used in persons addressed (or as we have watered it down to–person being spoken to)? I was always taught the person’s name or the noun/person was “set off by commas”–one before, one after. My students consistently leave off the one before, writing, “Don’t worry Mrs. Longest, your students will eventually learn to use commas.” Does this matter? Is it important? Please advise as to your thoughts.

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