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Be a Better Writer--COMMAS ARE TRICKY

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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swfdoc1
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Re: Be a Better Writer--COMMAS ARE TRICKY

Postby swfdoc1 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:24 am

I agree that the technical grammar terms are very helpful and wish all writers would master them for that very reason. However, Jan is wonderful for, and great at, explaining these things to folks who haven't mastered them.
Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Cinnamon Bear
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Re: Be a Better Writer--COMMAS ARE TRICKY

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:44 am

swfdoc1 wrote:Jan is wonderful.


She is, indeed! :D

Cinnamon Bear

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lish1936
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Re: Be a Better Writer--COMMAS ARE TRICKY

Postby lish1936 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:14 pm

Steve wrote:Jan is wonderful for, and great at, explaining these things to folks who haven't mastered them.


This is your class, Jan, so please forgive me for responding to Steve with a statement and question.


Steve,
It's true, we're not all college professors ( and I know you didn't mean to sound condescending), but the terms you used were quite easily understood. All information is helpful, useful, and readily absorbed for most writers who are eager to learn, no matter the source or how long it takes.
I hesitated before putting a comma after "learn" but did it anyway. Right or wrong? :D

In the spirit of learning, I also ask:
Am I right in omitting a comma before "but" in the above sentence because the sentence contains a compound predicate? Or do I have more to learn?


Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Be a Better Writer--COMMAS ARE TRICKY

Postby swfdoc1 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:10 pm

My point was not that someone has to be a college professor to understand these terms; quite the opposite. Everyone can and should. My point was that many people—for whatever reason—don’t currently know them. However, I will add to that that I have met many people who either don’t want to learn them or believe (incorrectly, in my opinion) that they can’t. My opinion about what people do and don’t know is based largely on teaching this stuff at the graduate level and polling my students on which terms they knew.

To take the most germane example, one will “never” master the use of commas without understanding the concept of restrictive vs. non-restrictive (phrases, clauses, appositives, etc.) Yet, year after year, when I would ask my students whether they knew what these terms meant, virtually no one ever did—maybe 5 or 6 out of ~400 over 10 years. So, Jan could have answered some of the questions that have arisen in this thread using those terms. She could have either left folks to go look up the terms themselves so they could understand her answer, or she could have explained them and then used them to answer the questions, hoping everyone would master the concept right away. Instead, she answered the questions using non-technical language.

Both the comma you put in and the comma you left out were the correct choices.
Steve
nlf.net
________
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Re: Be a Better Writer--COMMAS ARE TRICKY

Postby Shann » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:36 pm

I think one of the reasons why it can be confusing is because in your second example, Lillian, the comma placement changes by adding a single word--I.
I hesitated before putting a comma after "learn, " but I did it anyway.

Such a tiny word makes a big difference. I also think sometimes (especially if reading to myself) I will add that extra noun and not even realize I did or didn't have it in. Does that make sense?
:mrgreen:
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Re: Be a Better Writer--COMMAS ARE TRICKY

Postby lish1936 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:05 pm

Steve wrote:Both the comma you put in and the comma you left out were the correct choices.


Thanks Steve (and Jan, too), for the opportunity to learn about the nitty-gritty aspects of writing. "Be a better writer" says it all.


Much appreciated.

Lillian
E-Book - Retirement Lane - How to Celebrate Life After 60

Fortunate 500


I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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