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Commas (Part Four)

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

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jo555
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Re: Commas (Part Four)

Postby jo555 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:43 pm

Anja wrote:Commas - Part Four


I said in another thread that if you say something before you get the main point of your sentence, add a comma. In other words, if you build a sentence backwards, add a comma.


In technical talk, use a comma after an introductory adverbial clause, verbal phrase, or absolute phrase.


When he got up in the morning, he made coffee. (Introductory Adverbial Clause)

Seeing my bus coming down the road, I ran to the bus stop. (Introductory Participial Phrase)

Upon hearing the terrible news, Sarah burst into tears. (Introductory Gerund Phrase)

To get an early start, we have to get up before 5 am. (Introductory Infinitive Phrase)

My tickets having been bought, I had no choice but to go. (Introductory Absolute Phrase)

Do you need to be able to identify the different kinds of phrases or clauses? No, life is too short. You DO need to recognize they are phrases / clauses and need to be set off with commas.

One way to identify the need for comma is to rearrange the sentence. This is what I mean by built backwards. The subject and predicate are not at the beginning of the sentence, like those examples given to us in Grade 3, when we had to underline the subject once and the predicate twice.

In these examples, the subject / predicate are AFTER the comma, with additional information coming first.

Each one can be said another way.

He made coffee when he got up in the morning.
Sarah burst into tears upon hearing the terrible news.
We have to get up before 5 am to get an early start.


The other two will still require a comma when reversed.

To tread on Jan’s territory a bit... It is important to USE as many sentence patterns as necessary or possible to add variety to your writing. It adds rhythm... emphasis... not just a “plodding along” cadence with the same kind of sentence structure and length all through. It is important to know, then, how to punctuate according to the sentence pattern.


Commas are used to set off certain parenthetical elements such as honestly, to tell the truth, unbelievably, regardless, in other words, afterwards...


Use a comma to prevent misreading the sentence.

To Mary, Elliot was an enigma. (Try that without the comma.)
Below, the sea crashed against the cliffs.


Use a comma to set off questions dependent on the independent clause.

They shoot horses, don’t they?
We don’t have any milk in the fridge, do we?
Lindsay Vonne won the downhill skiing event, didn’t she?



FINALLY, use a comma to separate sharply contrasted coordinate elements.

She was not meddling, only helping.


Homework - Make up a variety of sentences that require commas using any comma rules. Try five.


That's how I learned it when building a sentence backwards. Although, I keep looking at some of my sentences in my book, and I want to delete it. It just feels awkward.

Seems that I thought I was another commaholic, but in reality it appears I haven't been using enough of them.

Does the comma always have to be there when building backwards?

Like here:
When he got up in the morning, he made coffee.

I have some sentences like this one in your examples that seem to flow better without the comma (to me anyway), but I want to do it right.
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord looks upon the heart - Proverbs

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Re: Commas (Part Four)

Postby jo555 » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:26 pm

I opted to leave it out in some portions. It's just that a good deal of the book is fast-paced and felt it was slowing things down, and it didn't fit. Although, I did insert it in other areas...
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord looks upon the heart - Proverbs

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Re: Commas (Part Four)

Postby jo555 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:52 pm

jo555 wrote:I opted to leave it out in some portions. It's just that a good deal of the book is fast-paced and felt it was slowing things down, and it didn't fit. Although, I did insert it in other areas...


Still editing, but I think I am almost done this time.

Here's an example of what I mean (thinking it may be a matter of the type of sentence, the flow, and the comma's placement):

See the placement of the first comma. This is what I was doing when I began to edit with a backwards sentence in mind.

Pulling his hands back, Nick replied, “It’s called gloves Charlie. You should try it, may help smooth out some of the rough edges on yours, get rid of that prickly touch.”

Although in this one, and most of my similar sentences, I just left out the first comma.

Like this:

Pulling his hands back Nick replied, “It’s called gloves Charlie. You should try it, may help smooth out some of the rough edges on yours, get rid of that prickly touch.”

And I've done it in similar sentences like the one I just wrote.

Although in this one, and most of my similar sentences, I just left out the first comma.

I'm thinking it is ok to leave out the comma after although because of the way the sentence is set up and flows. I have it after the word one instead.

That's ok, yes?
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord looks upon the heart - Proverbs

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Re: Commas (Part Four)

Postby Anja » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:17 pm

This would be my preference.

Pulling his hands back, Nick replied, “It’s called gloves Charlie. You should try it. May help smooth out some of the rough edges on yours. Get rid of that prickly touch.”

Use the first comma. Then use periods for Nick's dialogue, otherwise you have what is called a comma splice. Not recommended, not even for dialogue.


Although in this one, and most of my similar sentences, I just left out the first comma.

Although in this one and most of my similar sentences, I just left out the first comma.

Although, in this one and most of my similar sentences, I just left out the first comma.


In the first one, you have emphasized "and most of my similar sentences." If you didn't wish to emphasize it, then leave out the comma, as in the second example. Or do as the third example if you are uncomfortable about not setting off "although."


Speaking of using "although," one of my pet peeves is found in many Brit novels. It makes me grind my teeth.

Suzy hadn't taken any milk to town to sell. Although the springhouse was overflowing with pails.

Or,

George valiantly fought and destroyed the dragon. Although he failed to win the hand of his lady.

It's not that there's no comma after "although." It's that the second sentence is incomplete to me.
Arg. My fingers don't even want to type it.
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Re: Commas (Part Four)

Postby jo555 » Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:15 am

Thank you. Very helpful.
:superhappy
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord looks upon the heart - Proverbs

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Re: Commas (Part Four)

Postby firouz_alam » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:00 am

:thankssign for educating us. This is first visit to your thread and the information regarding 'Commas' is just admirable.

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