25 October 2007

Comma

I'm the PTA newsletter editor for Jack's school (to see my first solo issue, click here then NEWS and on the right OCTOBER 15, 2007 for a PDF viewing). When "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" came out, I was one of the first to tear it open and read it cover to cover. There is a kid version plus another for kids about the apostrophe, "The Girl's Like Spaghetti," which I need to get because my apostrophe usage is beyond weak, at most. Today I came across a rule on GrammarBook.com that I SWORE was different all these years. When I searched for comma, this is the first rule that came up. Comma Rule 1 To avoid confusion, use commas to separate words and word groups with a series of three or more. Example My $10 million estate is to be split among my husband, daughter, son, and nephew. NOTE Omitting the comma after son would indicate that the son and nephew would have to split one-third of the estate. However, my thought all these years was that the "and" can act as the comma; e.g. fish, steak and eggs or shirt, pants and shoes. I think that fish, steak, and eggs looks messy with that additional comma. Since I'm on my soap box, there is another rule that I wish everyone would follow... Spacing with Punctuation Rule 1 With a typewriter, you sometimes use one space or two spaces following punctuation. With a computer, use only one space following periods, commas, semicolons, colons, exclamation points, question marks, and quotation marks. With a computer, the space needed after these punctuation marks is proportioned automatically. Q: Thoughts on my comma theory?

14 comments:

Rhett Olson said...

I was taught the comma after son was optional, but I think it looks funny if you leave it out. I still use two spaces after a period. I can't trust the computer to get it right. (It's really just a force of habit.)

S+J said...

i'm with rhett. i was under the impression that it was optional, although i usually put it in. i leave it out when i'm lazy.

La Yen said...

It is different between MLA and APA style--one requires it, and one does not. For the life of me I can't remember which is which offhand, because I turned that part of my brain off once the MA was in my pocket.

And when writing papers for publication, you still put the space for the comma. On the web it is not necessary, and only one space after a period. I just learned that.

My favorite rule is where you use semicolons instead of comas after you use a colon to start a list. I hate: Dora; Diego; Doodlebops; Calliou; Little Bill; and Zoe from Sesame Street.

Sweet N' Low said...

I didn't know that about the comma either, whatev, I still probably won't do it. And I put two spaces after a period and it annoys me on Blogger that it automatically changes it to one space.

Ryan and Susie said...

I wasn't for sure on that comma after the "and". Sometimes I add it, sometimes I don't. I also add two spaces after the period on the computer. It's so second nature, I would have to think hard not to do it. You're great for looking these things up! We all need a little grammar lesson now and then.

Totencough said...

I like the look and feel of one space after a period. So, I trained myself away from the "two-space" rule in school. Now, I'm fancy free!

Commas always bother me, because I use so many of them. I always misplace them out of habit, then, after I go back over it, I have to edit them back in their places.

But the comma rule you found is totally right. End.

c jane said...

One time in college my boyfriend and I had an argument about this very comma dilemma. I was arguing with your grammar book's definition, he said an "and" could do the trick. After intense searching, we found out that he was right. But thanks to La Yen I now know that we were both right. I kinda want to call him and let him know, that sucker.

Rynell said...

I was going point out the MLA and APA differences. But that would might mean digging out my Chicago Manual of Style or some such thick book.

Nevermind, just remember that both are acceptable. Personally, I prefer the and standing in for a comma at the end.

Now, I will have to look it up anyway 'cause I have to know which I am using.

Geo said...

Maybe if we live well while we're here, one day we'll be introduced to celestial punctuation, and all our comma cares will be over.

compulsive writer said...

Here is what I was told. That used to be standard, but, as la yen said, it has changed. I have a difficult time keeping up with it, so I omit it when I remember and hope I'm not publishing anything soon.

(OK, that would be a lie. I'm going to be published in Seguallah this spring. Assuming they don't kick me out because I'm a little late with my second draft.)

I loved that book, by the way. I want to read the rest.

luckyzmom said...

Thanks for all this useful information. I had to adjust to the single space and have always been confused by a comma before and. Doesn't anyone remember "conjunction junction"?

Lyle said...

Conjunction junction what's your function?

Rule of thumb- don't worry unless you are trying to please a teacher or publishing something. Cause it all depends on what rule book you go by. Having graded my fair share of papers, I will say that the comma tends to get abused more than any other key on the keyboard.

~j. said...

I still do two spaces after ending punctuation because that is how I learned to type. On a typewriter.

I think the comma rule should stick. It's how I've always thought. Maybe things have changed...but then again, "text" is now a verb. So whatev.

(ps - I bought "The Girl's Like Spaghetti" for my girls. I love it.)

Queen Scarlett said...

Just because AP style was what I used for my entire PR life... we omitted the comma in lists of three if there was an and. We also did the two spaces after the period... but now that I don't have to edit anymore... I do ellipses all the time... well - I did them when I was in broadcasting... so I can't break the habit. (writing for teleprompter)