February 12, 2018
Common Comma PitfallsTOPICS: comma, COPY EDITING, GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION
Everyone understands comma basics. Commas are separators, weaker than periods. And they work within a single sentence.
But while comma basics are easy, comma gray areas are not. Would you put a comma before the book title in "We read the book Oliver Twist"? How about between the adjectives in "He saw a big scary mountain lion"? Do you need another comma in "The applied to Widgets, Inc. last week"? (Spoiler alert: Answers are probably not, probably not, and yes.)
Here's a more thorough look at some common comma pitfalls.
Click player above to listen to the podcast
And another thing about commas ...Posted by June on February 12, 2018
LABELS: comma, commas around inc., COPY EDITING, PUNCTUATION
A missing comma after "Inc." or a year is a dead giveaway that a document wasn't professionally copy edited. I call this mistake commas without partners. And if you don't want to fall into this trap, here are a few additional points to keep in mind.
* You don't need to put commas around Inc., but if you put one before it, you should put one after it as well. RIGHT: The job at Widgets, Inc., didn't offer good benefits. RIGHT: The job at Widgets Inc. didn't offer good benefits. WRONG: The job at Widgets, Inc. didn't offer good benefits.
* Complete dates use commas around the year — meaning a comma before and after. RIGHT: May 8, 1996, was the day she arrived in town.
* When you're talking about just a month and a year without a specific date, no comma. RIGHT: August 2004 was an unusual time for me.
* Same applies to seasons. No comma when combing it with a year. And by the way, seasons are lowercase. RIGHT: In spring 2021 the town will host its centennial celebration.
* Jr. and Sr. work the same way as Inc. No commas needed, but if you use one before you have to use one after. RIGHT: Morton Downey Jr. had a talk show. RIGHT: Morton Downey, Jr., had a talk show. WRONG: Morton Downey, Jr. had a talk show.
In every case, it should go without saying that if the comma would come at the end of the sentence, you omit it and let the period mark the end. We worked at Widgets, Inc. We watched Morton Downey, Jr. He was born April 3, 1998.
June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more
The Best Punctuation Book, Period
A Comprehensive Guide for Every Writer, Editor, Student, and Businessperson
The most comprehensive punctuation guide ever, “The Best Punctuation Book, Period” doesn’t just cover the basic rules. It delves into gray areas of punctuation left unclear by the other rule books, showing how the rules differ in four different editing styles. There's also an A to Z reference of commonly mispunctuated terms. more
Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies
A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite
What do suicidal pandas, doped-up rock stars, and a naked Pamela Anderson have in common? They’re all a heck of a lot more interesting than reading about predicate nominatives and hyphens. June Casagrande knows this and has invented a whole new twist on the grammar book. more
Mortal Syntax takes on the 101 most frequently attacked usage choices. Dedicating one short chapter to each, Casagrande brings her subject to life, teaching English usage through lively and amusing personal anecdotes. more
It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences
Your story may be brilliant. Your insights may be groundbreaking. Your characters may be so real you can almost touch them. But they're not worth a thing if you can't bring them to life in well-written sentences. more