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Commas (Part Three)

Back to the basics with regular Challenge winner, Ann Grover. Weekly lessons to help you hone your basic writing skills.

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Anja
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Commas (Part Three)

Postby Anja » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:23 pm

I am assuming that either you have the previous concepts mastered, or no one knows about this forum, judging by the limited response.

I’m hoping today’s lesson will give you something more to chew on.

Commas - Part 3

Use a comma to separate independent clauses when they are joined by and, but, or, nor, so, and yet.

If the clauses are long / complicated, they may be joined by a semicolon instead. Caution: Make sure the clauses are INDEPENDENT CLAUSES before tossing a semicolon in there.

(I’ll be covering independent clauses and semi-colons another time.)

Church was over, but everyone stayed around for a fellowship time.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and we decided to go on a picnic.

Joe Brown broke his leg in the race last week, so he is unable to ski at the Olympic games.



Use commas to set off all NONESSENTIAL MODIFIERS. Do not use commas to set off ESSENTIAL MODIFIERS.

(I will also cover MODIFIERS later.)

Joanne Smith, who is wearing a bright yellow jacket, qualified for the downhill race. (Nonessential CLAUSE)

Joanne Smith, wearing the bright yellow jacket, qualified for the downhill race. (Nonessential PHRASE)

The girl who is wearing the bright yellow qualified for the downhill race. (ESSENTIAL Clause)


See the difference? In the first two, the information about Joanne, set off by the commas, could have been eliminated. It is NONessential for defining who Joanne is, as the focus is her qualification for the downhill race.


Using commas to set off NONessential phrases and clauses is a very common problem.

The people who are going to Haiti on the relief mission are required to have vaccinations.

No commas. Why not?

Try adding commas to find out.

The people, who are going to Haiti on the relief mission, are required to have vaccinations.

Now remove the nonessential phrase which has been set off by commas.

The people are required to have vaccinations.

The resulting sentence is vague. What people? All people? The people in Haiti? It is ESSENTIAL to specify which people.


Use commas to set off Nonessential APPOSITIVES. Sometimes, the appositive is SO closely LINKED to the word it follows that it is an essential element and, therefore, is not set off by commas.

(Again, we’ll cover APPOSITIVES later. It is not as necessary for you to know what an APPOSITIVE is as it is to recognize the pattern.)

The poet Byron wrote many poems about love and romance.

William the Conqueror fought the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Ivan the Terrible imposed many atrocities on the people of Russia.




Try adding the commas to this passage.

In the winter Geraldine had hot oatmeal brown sugar and milk for breakfast. After she ate she would bundle up in her work clothes and she would go out to do her chores. Yes even when it was forty below zero. She had to milk the cows feed the calves and gather the eggs. Often she had to use an axe to remove the ice from the water pails and she would need to shovel a path to the calf barn. Bossy the Cow would give her trouble by swishing her tail in Geraldine’s face bawling annoyingly and kicking over the milk pail.

“Bossy you are going to be the death of me” Geraldine would say and she would swat Bossy’s with her gloved hand.

Bossy who was a black and white Holstein would turn and look at Geraldine with baleful brown long-lashed eyes but she would go on frustrating Geraldine.

By the time Geraldine was finished she was sweaty tired and covered with filth. She was ready to go inside. Then she’d curl up with her favourite book Black Beauty and she’d treat herself to a cup of cocoa a cinnamon roll and a peanut butter sandwich.


There might be a few things we haven’t covered yet.

(It wasn't meant to be clever or imaginative. And it's Monday morning, okay?)
Last edited by Anja on Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Green Leaves » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:34 am

Okay, here goes:

In the winter Geraldine had hot oatmeal, brown sugar, and milk for breakfast. After she ate, she would bundle up in her work clothes, and she would go out to do her chores. Yes, even when it was forty below zero. She had to milk the cows, feed the calves, and gather the eggs. Often she had to use an ax to remove the ice from the water pails, and she would need to shovel a path to the calf barn. Bossy the cow would give her trouble by swishing her tail in Geraldine's face, bawling, annoying, and kicking over the milk pail.

"Bossy, you are going to be the death of me," Geraldine would say, and she would swat Bossy with her gloved hand.

Bossy, who was a black and white Holstein, would turn and look at Geraldine with baleful, brown long-lashed eyes, but she would go on frustrating Geraldine.

By the time Geraldine was finished, she was sweaty, tired, and covered with filth. She was ready to go inside. Then she'd curl up with her favorite book, Black Beauty, and she'd treat herself to a cup of cocoa, a cinnamon roll, and a peanut butter sandwich.


I'm not sure this is entirely correct, but this is my take.

Carol Penhorwood
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Postby Anja » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:37 am

Excellent, Carol.

You need one more comma. (Although it might be considered optional.)

There is another optional one.

You need to delete one... AND THAT IS MY FAULT>>> GLARING TYPO>>> MY APOLOGIES.

I have corrected the original text.

Good job catching a few I haven't mentioned yet.
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Postby OldManRivers » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:12 am

Oh, Anja, my name is jim and I am a comma-holic,

My editors have always accused me of placing a comma everywhere I pause to think. I sense that it may arise out of my soul and mind tending to operate out a poetic, flow of consciousness way.

Any suggestions how to cope with this obsessive comma-inserting?

sincerely,,,,,

jim
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Postby JesusPuppy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:47 am

Let's see if I have this right...

In the winter, Geraldine had hot oatmeal, brown sugar, and milk for breakfast. After she ate, she would bundle up in her work clothes, and she would go out to do her chores. Yes, even when it was forty below zero. She had to milk the cows, feed the calves, and gather the eggs. Often, she had to use an axe to remove the ice from the water pails, and she would need to shovel a path to the calf barn. Bossy the Cow would give her trouble by swishing her tail in Geraldine’s face, bawling annoyingly, and kicking over the milk pail.

“Bossy, you are going to be the death of me” Geraldine would say, and she would swat Bossy’s with her gloved hand.

Bossy, who was a black and white Holstein, would turn and look at Geraldine with baleful brown, long-lashed eyes, but she would go on frustrating Geraldine.

By the time Geraldine was finished, she was sweaty, tired, and covered with filth. She was ready to go inside. Then, she’d curl up with her favourite book, Black Beauty, and she’d treat herself to a cup of cocoa, a cinnamon roll, and a peanut butter sandwich.
Last edited by JesusPuppy on Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Anja » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:50 pm

Excellent, JesusPuppy!!!!

Delete one.

Add one.

(And there's an optional one.)

But, GREAT JOB!


:D
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Postby Green Leaves » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:55 pm

In the winter, Geraldine had hot oatmeal, brown sugar, and milk for breakfast. After she ate, she would bundle up in her work clothes, and she would go out to do her chores. Yes, even when it was forty below zero. She had to milk the cows, feed the calves, and gather the eggs. Often she had to use an ax to remove the ice from the water pails, and she would need to shovel a path to the calf barn. Bossy the cow would give her trouble by swishing her tail in Geraldine's face, bawling annoyingly, and kicking over the milk pail.

"Bossy, you are going to be the death of me," Geraldine would say, and she would swat Bossy with her gloved hand.

Bossy, who was a black and white Holstein, would turn and look at Geraldine with baleful, brown, long-lashed eyes, but she would go on frustrating Geraldine.

By the time Geraldine was finished, she was sweaty, tired, and covered with filth. She was ready to go inside. Then she'd curl up with her favorite book, Black Beauty, and she'd treat herself to a cup of cocoa, a cinnamon roll, and a peanut butter sandwich.


How's this? Is it better?

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Postby Anja » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:01 pm

OldManRivers wrote:Oh, Anja, my name is jim and I am a comma-holic,

My editors have always accused me of placing a comma everywhere I pause to think. I sense that it may arise out of my soul and mind tending to operate out a poetic, flow of consciousness way.

Any suggestions how to cope with this obsessive comma-inserting?

sincerely,,,,,

jim


Usually, a pause would indicate a comma.... unless you are pausing to think very often and for a very long time.

In the first lesson, I said that there is a saying about removing half the commas you've written into a passage because of the tendency for people to abuse commas. I also said that if one understands the rules, there shouldn't be a need to edit out 50% of the commas.

I think part of the problem is that we often get bogged down in terms and labels.

Use a comma after an introductory adverbial clause, introductory participial phrase, introductory gerund phrase, introductory infinitive phrase, or introductory absolute phrase.

Huh?

And furthermore, WHO cares? Who REALLY needs to know that?

It is far simpler to understand the principal.

If you say something before you get the point of the sentence, add a comma.

If you build a sentence "backwards," add a comma
.


After Janet fed the horse, she went to school.

To get a good start on our road trip, we left at three in the morning.



How about we come up with our own comprehensive list of rules.
Last edited by Anja on Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JesusPuppy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:05 pm

EDited.

Not sure on the optional one, though sometimes if I write a sentence starting with "then" or "now" I do sometimes add the comma after it.
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Postby Anja » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:07 pm

That'll do, Pup, that'll do.

There is another optional one. Same concept as "then."
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Postby JesusPuppy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:09 pm

Often?
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Postby Anja » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:10 pm

Carol, you did well.

One extra still there, though. See Part One - colours - coordinate adjectives.
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Postby Anja » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:22 pm

JesusPuppy wrote:Often?


Yes.

But like I said, it is optional, and for the most part, unnecessary and not recommended. Sometimes it's necessary for clarity, emphasis, or when it's in the middle of a sentence.

Janet exercised her horse every day and, often, rode out through the pastures and woods.

But it's comma-busy. It's okay, but there's always the risk of error.

Better to go with something you know... two independent clauses--

Janet exercised her horse every day, and she often rode out through the pastures and woods.

Jmho.
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Still open to checking?

Postby flyingcross » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:42 pm

In the winter, Geraldine had hot oatmeal, brown sugar, and milk for breakfast. After she ate, she would bundle up in her work clothes and she would go out to do her chores. Yes, even when it was forty below zero. She had to milk the cows, feed the calves, and gather the eggs. Often she had to use an axe to remove the ice from the water pails, and she would need to shovel a path to the calf barn. Bossy the Cow would give her trouble by swishing her tail in Geraldine’s face, bawling, annoying, and kicking over the milk pail.

“Bossy, you are going to be the death of me,” Geraldine would say and she would swat Bossy with her gloved hand.

Bossy who was a black and white Holstein, would turn and look at Geraldine with baleful brown long-lashed eyes, but she would go on frustrating Geraldine.

By the time Geraldine was finished, she was sweaty, tired, and covered with filth. She was ready to go inside. Then she’d curl up with her favorite book, Black Beauty, and she’d treat herself to a cup of cocoa, a cinnamon roll, and a peanut butter sandwich.


See if this is close.
Thanks,
Cindy

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Postby Green Leaves » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:50 pm

After brown?

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