Commas

A comma is a useful and important punctuation mark.  And it is commonly mis-used.

Too many commas in the one sentence  A sentence with two, three, four or five commas feels disjointed and halting, like the writer is stuttering, stammering and unsure of what he’s trying to convey, like: The trucker, a big man, who, she noted immediately, was not, and everyone knew, capable of driving big, or even medium sized, trucks.

Writers leave out commas and change the meaning of the sentence or leave the reader confused  For instance, these three sentences have a totally different meaning when a comma is inserted:

I said don’t eat Mary.

I said don’t eat, Mary.

 

However powerful he may be but his ideas always fail.

However, powerful he may be, but his ideas always fail.

 

The basic principles which you all know are not easy to define.

The basic principles, which you all know, are not easy to define.

 

Writers fail to use a comma to add emphasis or drama to the sentence:

However she was dead.                    Now was that worth it?                         So it’s over now.

However, she was dead.                  Now, was that worth it?                         So, it’s over now.

 

Writers don’t need commas between two adjectives:

The dead burnt tree.              A lovely young girl.            A stinking brown mess.

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