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A summary of Lesson 4 of the Comma Sense Course
COMMA SENSE CLASS



LESSON #4
NO COMMAS ????


'My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements.'
-------------Ernest Hemingway


Hey, did you guys notice there is not one single comma in Hemingway's quote?


In this Lesson we will learn when NOT to use the comma. The biggest problem that most writers have with commas is their overuse. Remember, a pause in reading is not always a reliable reason to use a comma.

Try not to use a comma unless you can apply a specific Rule to do so. Concentrating on the proper use of commas is not mere form for form's sake. Indeed, it causes writers to review their understanding of structure and to consider carefully how their sentences are crafted. Commas in the wrong places can break a sentence into illogical segments or confuse readers with unnecessary and unexpected pauses.






RULES OF COMMA USAGE

[Scroll down to bottom of this page for list of rules and exceptions.]


In previous Lessons we have encountered instances when commas should NOT be used. Remember these Do-NOT-Use-A-Comma Rules?

Lesson #1:
>>Exception #1xa: Independent Clauses Joined by So That (don't use commas)
>>Exception #1xc: Short Independent Clauses Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions (don't use commas)
>>Exception #1xd: Clauses and Phrases Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions (don't use commas)

Rule #4 - Non-Coordinate Adjectives (don't use commas)
Rule #6 - Essential Elements (don't use commas)
Rule #7 - Essential That Clauses (don't use commas)


Lesson #2:
>>Exception #8x: Conjunctions separating each element (don't use commas)
>>Exception #9x: Short Introductory Prepositional Phrases (don't use commas)
Rule #10 - Ending Participial Phrases (don't use commas)
>>Exception #11x: Coordinating conjunction used as an Introductory Transitional Word (don't use commas)

Lesson #3:
Rule #13 (formerly 1xb) - Ending Adverbial Clauses (don't use commas-usually)
Rule #15 - Adjunctive Adverbial Words (don't use commas)

Here are a few more Do-NOT-Use-A-Comma Rules:


Rule #17: Disjunctive Adverbs In Short Sentences
*Checkb* Do NOT use a comma to set off Disjunctive Adverbs in Short Sentences when there is no emphasis expressed.

In Lesson #3, we learned that Disjunctive Adverbs are non-essential to the meaning of the sentence, disruptive in the flow of the sentence, and need commas to surround them. Well, if the sentence is really short (5 or 6 words) you can leave out those commas around the Disjunctive Adverb. Be careful here! If your intention is to express emphasis for that adverb, even in a short sentence, go ahead and use the comma. This is your decision as the author.

Examples of Disjunctive Adverbs in Short Sentences

*Noteb* Purposely I left out the comma.
In a longer sentence, we would use a comma after the Disjunctive Adverb purposely. But since the sentence is short and there is no danger of confusion, we can omit the comma.

*Noteb* I understand comma usage thus far.

*Noteb* I too liked the cookies.
By not placing commas around the adverb too, the author is expressing that it is NOT emphasized. It's the author's decision.

*Noteb* Frankly I don't care.


Exception #17x: Certain Disjunctive Adverbs & Expression of Emphasis in Short Sentences
*Exclaim**Exclaim* Use commas to set off Disjunctive Adverbs in Short Sentences when expressing emphasis. Always use commas for certain adverbs like however, in fact, therefore, nevertheless, moreover, furthermore, still, and instead, no matter how short the sentence. These adverbs ALWAYS express emphasis.

Examples of Certain Adverbs & Expression of Emphasis:

*Noteb* I understand comma usage, thus far.
Here, the author is expressing a break in the flow of this short sentence by using a comma before the adverb thus far to show emphasis.

*Noteb* I, too, liked the cookies.
In this short sentence, the author used commas around the adverb too. Therefore, he is expressing emphasis.

*Noteb* The thief, however, was very clever.
The adverb however ALWAYS expresses emphasis and always uses commas.

*Noteb* Commas are, furthermore, possible to understand.
The adverb furthermore ALWAYS expresses emphasis and always uses commas.

For more information on Disjunctive Adverbs, check out this link:
http://grammar.about.com/od/d/g/disjunctterm.htm

Rule #18: Shared Subjects
*Checkb* Do NOT use a comma when two or more verbs are connected by Coordinating Conjunctions (FANBOYS), and they Share The Same Subject.

Basically what we are talking about here is a Non-Compound sentence. When you have an independent clause connected to a phrase by a Coordinating Conjunction, you don't use a comma before the conjunction. Remember Exception #1xd? Clauses and Phrases Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions do not use commas. Well, when the phrase shares the same subject as the clause, Rule #18 applies.

Here is a link to an article about one subject sharing two verbs:
http://www.k12reader.com/term/compound-predicate/

Examples of Shared Subjects:

*Noteb* We laid out our snacks and began to study.
We is the subject of the verbs laid and began. We laid out our snacks is a clause. Began to study is a phrase. The clause and the phrase are joined by a coordinating conjunction. So we would not put at comma before the coordinating conjunction as dictated by Exception #1xd. Now, we have a specific rule for this situation. The verbs share the same subject, so no comma is used.

*Noteb* We laid out our snacks, and we began to study.
This is not an example of Rule #18. In this sentence, the subject we is repeated in the second part of the sentence, making it a clause, so a comma is needed before the Coordinating Conjunction and because by repeating the subject, we have created a Compound Sentence, so Rule #1 applies here.

*Noteb* Bob tried to make the comma fit and studied every rule but failed to see the sense of it so dropped right out of school.
Hey, that rhymes! Okay, here we have one subject (Bob) which is shared by four verbs (tried, studied, failed, and dropped) that are connected to the sentence with Coordinating Conjunctions (and, but, and so). We didn't repeat the subject, so no commas go before the conjunctions. Because there are three or more elements in a series here, each separated by a coordinating conjunction, Exception #8x also applies here.

*Noteb* Bob tried to make the comma fit, studied every rule, failed to see the sense of it, so dropped right out of school.
This is not an example of Rule #18. Since I dropped all the conjunctions except the last one, this is now an example of Rule #8 with three or more elements in a series and commas are needed.

*Noteb* I turned the corner and ran into a patrol car.
The pronoun I is the shared subject of the verbs turned and ran. This is not a compound sentence and no comma should be placed before the Coordinating Conjunction.

*Noteb* The roses struggled in the harsh winter, yet thrived in the spring.
Uh oh, why is that comma there? The verbs struggled and thrived both share the subject the roses, so this is not a compound sentence, so why is a comma placed before the Coordinating Conjunction yet? Well, remember Exception #1xe in Lesson #1? The verbs struggled and thrived express extreme contrast, so a comma must be used.


Rule #19: Separation of Subject and Verb
*Checkb* Do NOT use a comma causing Separation of Subject and Verb when the subject is IMMEDIATELY followed by the verb.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but subjects are not always what they seem.*Rolleyes*
Some subjects are simple as in this sentence: Spot runs home. Spot is the subject. Runs is the verb. You wouldn't put a comma between them, right? Well, some subjects are whole phrases, and they should not be separated from their verb with a comma. Each of the following examples below may look like they require a comma after the opening phrase because it's so long, but the whole opening phrase is really the subject.

Examples of Separation of Subject and Verb:

*Noteb* Preparing and submitting his report to the committee for evaluation and possible publication was one of the most difficult tasks Bill had ever attempted.
The whole bold text in this sentence is the subject of the verb was. No comma should separate that subject from its verb.

*Noteb* To start a new business without doing market research and long-term planning in advance would be foolish.
Don't confuse this with Rule #9. The first part of the sentence is not an Introductory Phrase. It is the subject of the verb would be, and no comma should be placed here.

*Noteb* The most important attribute of a good writer is her ability to captivate her readers.

*Noteb* Clearly understanding the proper use of commas produces well crafted composition.

*Noteb* The old woman and her faithful dog, Buster, ran on the beach every morning.
The commas around Buster are because Buster is a Non-Essential Element [Rule #5]. We are not separating the subject from its verb here.


Rule #20: Comma Splices
*Checkb* Do NOT use a comma to separate two strong independent clauses that are NOT linked with a conjunction—unless the independent clause is a dialogue tag or an interrupter. Use a period and create two separate sentences, or incorporate other forms of corrections such as a semicolon or an em dash.

A Comma Splice, also known as a Run-On Sentence, is the use of a comma to join (splice) two independent clauses where the clauses are not connected by a conjunction. Comma Splices are condemned in The Elements of Style, a popular American English style guide by E. B. White and William Strunk Jr. These experts in writing style note that splices are sometimes acceptable when the clauses are short and alike in form such as the following sentences:
The author grabbed his keyboard, his thoughts flowed, his fingers flashed.
'I came, I saw, I conquered."
NOTE: *Exclaimr* For the sake of avoiding confusion in this Class—no matter how famous you may think you are—Comma Splices will not be acceptable.

Here are links to articles about Comma Splices:
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/engagement/2/1/34/
http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/commasplice.htm

Example of a Comma Splice:

*XR* INCORRECT*Right* It is nearly half past five, we cannot reach town before dark.
This is a Comma Splice and needs to be corrected. There are actually two separate sentences here joined only by a comma. No conjunction is present and a comma is not acceptable.

Examples of Corrections for the Comma Splice:

Change the comma to a semicolon only if the clauses are closely related in meaning:
*Noteb* It is nearly half past five; we cannot reach town before dark.

Change the comma to an em dash, but use this method sparingly and informally and only when the clauses are closely related in meaning:
*Noteb* It is nearly half past fivewe cannot reach town before dark.

Write the two clauses as two separate sentences:
*Noteb* It is nearly half past five. We cannot reach town before dark.

Insert a Coordinating Conjunction and a comma:
*Noteb* It is nearly half past five, and we cannot reach town before dark.
*Noteb* It is nearly half past five, so we cannot reach town before dark.


Make one clause dependent on the other:
*Noteb* Since it is nearly half past five, we cannot reach town before dark.
*Noteb* Because it is nearly half past five, we cannot reach town before dark.

These are now examples of Introductory Adverbial clauses [Rule #2]

Use a semicolon and a conjunctive adverb:
*Noteb* It is nearly half past five; therefore, we cannot reach town before dark.

*Stop* Alert! The following sentences, though technically they contain independent clauses joined only by a comma, are NOT Comma Splices:
*Noteb* The Comma Sense students cried, "Oh, why must we endure such cruelties at the hands of Ms. Winnie's comma rules?"
This is not a Comma Splice. The Comma Sense students cried is an independent clause joined to another independent clause—the quoted text—only by a comma. but it is a dialogue tag which follows its own specific rules.

*Noteb* As we proceed through the course, the lessons will get easier, I promise.
This is not a Comma Splice. Even though I promise can stand alone as an independent clause and it's separated from another independent clause only by a comma, it is called an Interrupter (a rule from Lesson #5).


RULES OF COMMA USAGE:

LESSON #1
Rule #1 - Independent Clauses Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions (use commas)
>>Exception #1xa: Independent Clauses Joined by So That (don't use commas)
>>Exception #1xb: Independent Clauses Joined by Subordinating Conjunctions (don't use commas-usually)
>>Exception #1xc: Short Independent Clauses Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions (don't use commas)
>>Exception #1xd: Clauses and Phrases Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions (don't use commas)
>>Exception #1xe: Clauses and Phrases Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions Expressing Extreme Contrast (use commas)

Rule #2 - Introductory Adverbial Clauses (use commas)
Rule #3 - Coordinate Adjectives (use commas)
Rule #4 - Non-Coordinate Adjectives (don't use commas)
Rule #5 - Non-Essential Elements (use commas)
Rule #6 - Essential Elements (don't use commas)
Rule #7 - Essential That Clauses
(don't use commas)

LESSON #2
Rule #8 - Elements in a Series (use commas)
>>Exception #8x: Conjunctions separating each element (don't use commas)
Rule #9 - Introductory Phrases (use commas)
>>Exception #9x: Short Introductory Prepositional Phrases (don't use commas)
Rule #10 - Ending Participial Phrases (don't use commas)
>>Exception #10x: Ending Participial Phrase not immediately next to word it modifies (use commas)
Rule #11 - Introductory Transitional Words (use commas)
>>Exception #11x: Coordinating conjunction used as an Introductory Transitional Word (don't use commas)
Rule #12 - Interjections (use commas)

LESSON #3
Rule #13 (formerly 1xb) - Ending Adverbial Clauses (don't use commas-usually)
>>Exception #13x: Ending Conjunctive Adverbial Then Phrases (use commas-with exceptions)
Rule #14 - Disjunctive Adverbial Words (use commas)
Rule #15 - Adjunctive Adverbial Words (don't use commas)
Rule #16 - Absolute Phrases (use commas)

LESSON #4
Rule #17 - Disjunctive Adverbs In Short Sentences (don't use commas)
>>Exception #17x: Certain Disjunctive Adverbs & Expression of Emphasis In Short Sentences (use commas)
Rule #18 - Shared Subjects (don't use commas)
Rule #19 - Separation of Subjects and Verbs (don't use commas)
Rule #20 - Comma Splices (don't use commas)

Click here for "Parts of Speech for Comma Sense Class

Instructor: Winnie Kay *Smile*

Resource Links for this Lesson:
http://grammar.about.com/od/d/g/disjunctterm.htm
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/engagement/2/1/34/
http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/commasplice.htm
http://www.k12reader.com/term/compound-predicate/
© Copyright 2017 amy-Has a great future ahead (shyone at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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