Another day, and another kind of comma to discuss. As you may be aware of by now, there are so many ways to use a comma in writing, that it’s no wonder people get confused.
And while you might be wondering why bother with learning all this, I think it is vitally important to every writers’ work to understand basic grammar, and especially the comma.
Today, we’ll talk the comma that sets apart the introduction of a sentence from the rest.
As with all the rules and regulations of the comma, it isn’t cut and dry. One cannot say a comma follows ALL introductory phrases or words.As with all the rules and regulations of the comma, it isn’t cut and dry. One cannot say a comma follows ALL introductory phrases or words. It seems that whether or not you use a comma is dependent on the type of expression, its relationship to the rest of the sentence, and its length. You can’t say it because it isn’t true. Whether or not you use a comma is dependent on the type of phrase, its relationship to the rest of the sentence, and its length.
Wow – that was quite a mouthful. As it turns out, though it sounds complicated, once you familiarize yourself with how things work, you will find yourself naturally building this routine into your process.
If a sentence begins with yes, no, OK, well, and the like, using the comma is appropriate. This is also true for oh and ah.
Now that you’re aware of this convention, it is even more critical than ever to read your work out loud before you show it to anyone else.
As some of you know, I have the honor of being a Judge of the weekly contests of Reedsy.com*. One of the most common things I see from these mostly novice writers is some glaring errors that a basic edit would take care of. Which leaves me to wonder, doesn’t everyone do some type of edit before they post their work where the entire internet has access?
Here are a few suggestions from my writing process.
Before I release the majority of my work to the world-wide-web or enter it into a contest, I always READ the piece OUT LOUD. You’ll be amazed at the errors you will find as you read. You will be able to identify missing and overused words. It is also possible to catch grammatical mistakes – such as missing or extra commas if you read with emphasis on punctuation.
Next, at a minimum, use some form of spell-check. While it is true that spell check only looks for misspelled words, and not incorrect word choices, it helps in eliminating basic mistakes.
Grammarly has a free version. Using the free program forces you to learn the basics because it is not foolproof, but if you struggle with sentence structure and word choice, this is a good step for you to incorporate into your editing routine.
Next time, we’ll finish up this short series on the comma. I think we’ve covered the basics, but we will come back to this punctuation mark repeatedly.
*If you would like to compete in the weekly contests, check out Reedsy.com. The site is a valuable resource for writers.