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Commas: mostly misunderstood, often misused.

Commas: mostly misunderstood, often misused.

I will not dwell too much on technical rules at this time (“Oxford comma”, anyone?), although knowing the basic rules will prove handy.

The comma’s function is more than simply separating words, phrases, and clauses in a sentence; it also plays a role as a breathing break, or pause, if you will.

When you read a line of text, it should sound exactly the way you would normally speak. Better yet, using commas should sound like music to your ears. As with song lyrics, the comma can create and control rhythm in your writing, thus making your sentences “sing” in the right tone.

Not sure about a particular sentence? Just sing it, or read it aloud. Does it have the right tempo and rhythm throughout? Is it pleasant to the ears?

Try singing (or reading out loud) this fairly well known song, without commas.

Help I need somebody
Help not just anybody
Help you know I need someone help

Help me if you can I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please please help me

Not so toe tapping, is it? And now, with appropriate commas:

Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone, help

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me

Commas can also amplify and stress a particular point that you may wish to convey. For example: “Know your clients, and they will know you.”

And just for classic fun, let’s not forget the clarity that a comma delivers:

Let’s eat Grandma.
Let’s eat, Grandma.

“I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.”  — Oscar Wilde

 

  2014  /  Blog, Marketing-Communication  /  Last Updated December 22, 2014 by robert  /  Tags: , , , , , , , ,