Comma Cautions

The last two Sundays have been focused on commas.  I compared the comma to a multi-tool, highly versatile and a writer’s friend.  When I told this to a friend, however, she was unhappy with the comparison.  Her response was, “You can’t use a multi-tool too often, but you can overuse a comma.”

Fair enough!  Last week I turned you loose with commas; this week I’m going to rein you back in just a bit with two comma cautions.

A poorly placed comma can split your sentence incorrectly.  When I cooked, last night I made lasagna.  If you want to use a comma in this sentence, it should go after “last night” not after “cooked.”  Remember, the comma is a pause.  Read this aloud with a pause.  “When I cooked (pause) last night I made lasagna.”  Awkward…

Too many commas makes your writing hard to read.  For fun, Bob tried, to use, commas throughout, a sentence just, to see, what would happen. Obviously that example is a bit much, but you get the idea.  There are two commas that should go in that sentence: after “for fun” and after “sentence.”

Please keep in mind that it is possible to overuse a comma.  I always recommend double-checking by reading the sentence aloud when you’re not sure.

Any more sentence structure or grammatical issues you’d like to see me address?

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