Friday, September 2, 2011

Grammar Friday - Commas (and a game)

I've had a special request to touch on this subject. Commas can be a bit Harry. For one thing, there are different styles of grammar. Example. When I was in elementary school we were taught that a comma takes the place of the word "and" in a list of three or more items.
I would like soup, salad and bread.

No comma after the word "salad". A comma would be unnecessary because it's not substituting for "and" since "and" is used. Are we as clear as mud yet?

However, there are many who support what's called the Oxford Comma. In this case you would go ahead and add the comma after "salad".
I would like soup, salad, and bread.
Modern business writing appears to be moving more in support of the Oxford Comma. However, either way is correct. Just pick one style and stick with it. Be consistent.

Now to get on with answering the grammar question. Siriusly, I can get so distracted.

Some people aren't clear when to use a comma and when not to. Commas are used to connect two independent clauses.
I like ice cream. It makes my head hurt.

But these are really Dick and Jane sentences. Most writers (unless it's for effect or pacing) would use a more complex structure.
I like ice cream, but it makes my head hurt.

You can connect two independent clauses by using conjunctions such as:
Use a comma with these. But just so you know, the use of commas is a bit more complicated than just these two examples. Siriusly. But more to come later. Best to take commas in doses.

Now. With the grammar lesson over it's time for the Game

It's a case of What Goes Around, Comes Around, and it's Alleged Author's turn to tag me.

She tagged me in a game where I'm supposed to share 10 things about myself that won't frighten off my followers. I thought just my posting would do that. Hmmm ....

1.  I gave you two clues about one of my obsessions with pictures and word hints.

2. I have four sons and two daughters (yours, mine, and ours--but I birthed five of them), and they have given hubby and I 7 1/2 grandchildren. 

Siriusly (another hint) though. The saying that your grandchildren are your reward for not having killed your children is true!

3. I've been to Hawaii seven times, but I didn't get to stay the night until the fourth visit when I spent the summer I was sixteen on Pearl Harbor with some family friends. 

4. I've taken college classes in every community I've lived in since I got out of the Army a bazillion years ago.

5. I was a devil child when I was little and a straight arrow by the time I was a teen

6. I donate blood regularly because I was an RH baby and had to be completely transfused.

7. I did my own dental work when I was in third grade by trying to throw a ball at the same time I spun in a circle. I ended up on the ground with my top front teeth through my bottom lip.

8. I had lasik a year ago, and I love it.

9. I come from a family of tall men and women. One grandmother was 5' 9" as I am. I have an aunt who's 6', a sister who's 5' 11", another sister who's 6' 1". My daughter did not inherit the height. My father was 6' 3", my brother is 6' 4", and my sons are 6', 6' 2", 6' 4", and 6' 5 1/2". (Did you notice my subtle use of the Oxford Comma there?)

10. I was almost run over by a mob of people rushing to see President Eisenhower when he visited South Post Army base in Seoul, South Korea.

So, who to pass this on to? Be sure to check out these awesome people.
Shelly at SeeShelWrites
Yvonne at Welcome to My World
Laila at Untroubled Kingdom of Laila Knight
Suzie F.

I have a super sized weekend, and since I've finished my critique group edits on WIP #1 my goal for September is to finish (as in really finish) the dang thing. I've got an editor lined up, so I may actually have to write a query letter.

Or not.

What are your plans for the long weekend?


  1. I love brushing up on my comma rules, because I often forget them and just throw commas in wherever the whim hits me!

    Hmmm, your obsession...not really sure, I could use a few more pics and hints. But I suspect you and I share the same obsession. ;)

    Weekend plans? Probably refinishing the hallway. Fun stuff. But if I get some sushi out of the deal, I'll be happy!

  2. I'm a big-time fan of the Oxford comma (though I recall a boss who referred to it as the 'Harvard comma'), it just seems more organized.

    So, did your kids follow the traditional and join the Army, too?

    Have a great weekend.

  3. Your obsession is Lord of the Rings, right? *wink*

    I was taught to leave out the comma before "and" in a series of words. Now I use the Oxford comma all the time.

    Thanks for tagging me. I suspect I'll be trying to think of 10 things about myself that won't frighten anyone this weekend. Enjoy your Labor Day!

  4. I will defend the Oxford comma to my death. :)

    Have a great weekend. I just want to sleep in for three days. Sigh.

  5. Thanks for the comma clarification! Your number 7 made me cringe~ I hate dental pain :) Have a great weekend.

  6. I use the Oxford comma all the time but I know many writers who don't. It just looks right to me. :)

  7. Love the Oxford Comma :) And I love that your family is so tall! Mine is SUPER SHORT haha.

  8. I'll join the others who have strong feelings about the Oxford comma.

    Yes! All the time, every time, use the Oxford comma! In your case, its absence isn't confusing, but in many other cases it can be. Plus, it just looks better.

  9. I definitely follow the Oxford comma rules, since leaving out the comma can mean that the words joined by *and* are actually one item.

    I'd love to spend my long weekend furiously writing, but I suspect I will spend it outlining lesson plans, grading papers (already!), and trying to sleep off the impending cold my students have already given me.

  10. Clear as mud to me! And I do use the Oxford comma.

  11. I use Oxford comman most of the time...conformity you know.

    Wow, you have a lot of kids! You had a TV growing up..right? Seriously, you don't look old enough to be a grandma.

    I would love to go to Hawaii. I envy your height...I'm a fun sized 5'4, and I too had a blood transfusion at birth.

    Love getting to know more about you, Donna.

  12. Thank you for the award, I feel most honoured and will show it with pride.

    Also congrats yourself for having it awarded to you.


  13. Commas? How timely! I just went down the rabbit hole with someone over this:

    Fun stuff. ;)

    Egads! Looking at you, no one would ever believe you've had five children. Way to go! These getting to know you posts are always so fun to read.

    Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!

    P.S. Long live the Oxford comma! ;)

  14. My plans are to figure out how to use commas...

    Donna, thanks for always posting stuff about grammer, it is something I struggle with.

  15. I've always followed the Oxford rules for commas, a product of my Catholic school education.

    And for the weekend: rest, rest, and more rest. 2 weeks on vacation nearly killed me!

    Enjoy your holiday!

  16. Oh commas. I remember getting into fights with my English teachers over them. The thing about commas is that the rules for them are just so relaxed. It makes their usage practically opinionated.

  17. Excellent post Ms. Weaver... grammatical and personal.

  18. I've given up on commas. I know my publisher's style, and I use that. Otherwise, I rely on my copyeditor to make sure I'm using proper grammar.

  19. Awesome post... I go with what looks better on the page, and not to mention, what’s relevant today.

  20. Hi there! New follower here! This post is excellent. :) I've heard that the Oxford comma can go both ways, but I prefer to use it. Then again, I can get a bit comma happy sometimes. ;)

  21. I read the bit about your teeth accident and went 'oh my goodness'. I think lasik is a wonderful thing, but I'm such a pessimist that I think I might just be one of the unlucky persons who gets messed up.

  22. My favorite punctuation mark is the super comma... I mean, semi-colon. I watched a film on it in 3rd grade and still teach it that way to grammar classes in college.

    I'm also an Oxford comma fan. AP style neglects the comma for space reasons, but I prefer it to be there.

    Oh, and thanks for visiting my blog!

  23. Commas have GOT to be the most confusing tiny thing in the writer's universe! Thanks for stopping by my BBQ! I actually already follow you but apparently haven't been by for along time since I didn't even realize it! Looking forward to seeing more of your informative posts!


  24. Commas are trick. Thanks for taking this on.

  25. Hi-ya. I just wandered over here from Karen's shindig. Nice to meet you. I'm expecting my twelfth grandchild next month. (ahem - my HUSBAND is really getting OLD!)

    Your blog sounds like fun. Please count me in as your newest follower.

  26. My husband believes in the Oxford comma, but he took English courses at Harvard. Less commas! Please!

  27. i used to be obsessed with commas, lol... i hate grammar rules where sometimes u can do stuff and sometimes u cant!
    Followed you here from karen's bbq party... brought some whiskey and steak! enjoy!great blog--following!


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