As a writer, do you use commas, here, and there. Or do you use commas, here and not there?
I make a living online as a writer, and I believe that writers have to use good judgement sometimes in punctuation, but I have conflicting editors that believe that commas should be used after the first word, after the second, and before "and." And others want the first word, and none after the second and use "And" to connect the list only. What do you think?
I think that if you're selling your writing, learn what individual editors want, and accomodate them, by wrting to the style sheet of the publication. It will be changed to that anyway, but if the editors see they have little or no work to do, they will love you forever.
Oh, of course i follow what they want, I was just wondering what you, as a writer, thought about the most preferential use of commas in a list. Thanks! Deb
You didn't specify list in the question. For general writing I put a comma after every item, and before the 'and', the so called Oxford comma.
For years, I didn't put a comma after the last word before 'and' but now I do, after it seems that the rule has become the correct standard. I use more commas now than I used to, also as a way to indicate a pause. Sometimes I have to ask myself, "do I need this comma here?" Usually, if I need to ask, I probably do.
You need to put yourself in the position of your readers. Think how they would follow your prose, and where necessary imagine them reading aloud to someone else - or to themselves - and whether a 'breathing' space might suit, a semi-colon, colon or full stop. I use semi-colons sparingly; colons I usually use in titles or directions.
I'm not going to put up hard and fast rules, because everyone reads differently. You'd have to consult the manual if you wanted perfection, whatever that is. English is a living language, with regional variations. French, German and Latin are more hide-bound - be glad you're not tied down by their constraints.
Discretion is the better part of valour. It applies to commas and full stops. You'll get the feel of it and apply your own style
...After you are semi-educated on grammar, just be consistent in whatever style you choose to write with.
I am a grammar idiot - LOL. Thinking of becoming a serious writer I have considered going back and taking a basic grammar class again. I know, does not answer the question.
I took an informal seminar from a writer (fiction) in La Jolla, Ca. She is an established author. One of the exercises she taught us was to not use any punctuation except the comma when writing a draft. After finishing she explained simply, 'now it is the editors job.'
She took us farther on that line of thinking and introduced it with poetry. Reading most of the poetry I write that will be seen. Yet, she further took us along showing how that poem could become a short story, then a chapter, and eventually a book.
In essence she taught us to separate ideas by commas while creating a continuous flow between ideas. Or, her emphasis was on the process of creativity or form rather than format. That is where philosophy comes into play, which she shared with us too. Does form follow format or does format follow form.
I have faith in editors regarding their job description, yet I ponder their creative side at times. An architect designs a structure first with sketches. Then those sketches become rough plans. Then those rough plans go back to perspective with views or what it looks like. Then, if it is at a corporate level, many times it goes to the engineering departments, then legal, then somewhere along the way it goes to committee for review on a continual basis.
I follow that pattern to some degree, while knowing it varies from firm to firm in the field of architecture, as does it with writing. Most of the writing at the portfolio tsmog has not gotten to those engineering departments much less the legal departments.
Self publishing many times a bunch of different hats are worn. The interactions with editors regarding author style and editor style is it varies on purpose. Sometimes it gets really picky and we may not know the reason. The reason may be the market potential is not where the author created the article for.
Knowing you write for the medical field I dim-darn guarantee you the rules of grammar are different than those for writing in the field of electrical engineering. Another compare / contrast is the fiction writer for sci-fi probably have different specific rules for success than does the author for a western.
I know I have wandered a bit too far, ending with I disagree with MS Word with comma usage and the semi-colon many times - LOL.
Hey Tsmog, yes, it is the editors job to fix the book. But, not everyone will get an editor. Someone as lucky as John Grisham has an agent who happens to be an editor. How lucky was that? When you write for a magazine, you want it to be accepted.
i Agree eHealer. I think that was the point. I use a comma before 'and' with multiple examples. MS Word wants me to use a semi-colon. I checked with my college professor and he said MS word is wrong. My experiece has been it vaires by field.
Your specific question has no definitive technical answer, as you probably know. I would, ideally, want to use commas in a natural organic fashion that not only shapes content the way I want it but 'feels' grammatically sound. If you're writing for a market you have to accept that, somewhere along the line, an editor will come pruning, arranging, leaving their paw marks all over your prose. As a writer you want to be accepted but you don't want to compromise your style.
Commas are vital, yes, but their positioning isn't determined by any grammatical law. Surely it's the writer who dictates where the pauses will be, by inserting a comma? The trick is to maintain a balance and not pepper a sentence with commas to the point where it becomes a ridiculous sequence of unnecessary pauses!
As a writer do you use commas here, there and, not everywhere?
As a reader do I want to see no commas here there and every blooming where?
I hope you can sort this one out and meet your editor on comman ground! Ooops, a spelling mistake. Or is it?
WRite on! It is up to the discretion of the writer to designate the comma, only editors without information would dispute the writer's intent.
Well written. Reminds me of when sniper school taught us to shoot skeet first or shotgun shooting. Understanding the pattern of the shot with loads regarding leading the target as it flies along one learns - windage with wind and elevation too.
If I understand your question correctly, but here's my take on the matter (for what it's worth )...
If the question is about a sentence like the example I'm about to write I believe it can be correct both ways, and it depends on whether it's more traditional American English or UK English. It can also depend on whether one is writing is a specific style (as in, for example, AP Style). Different disciplines/areas have different requirements for style (as you probably already know). There can seem to be a style for just about every field that's out there - engineering, law, news, social work, etc. etc. (you name it). Some styles aim at trimming down any extra punctuation (as you probably already also know, but I thought it was worth mentioning).
Here's the example sentence (and an example of the kind of sentence about which I think you're asking): "I went to the store and bought bread, milk, water, and lettuce." Unless I'm writing in a style that would otherwise "outlaw" it, I most often add the final comma. In American English it is considered acceptable not to use a comma after (in the example) "water".
Having learned English grammar in the 1960's and in a school where teachers were very traditional, I most often prefer that additional comma. Here's why: "I went to the store and bought water, milk, pasta and sauce with olives." If somebody really looks at it he will notice that there's no "and" between "milk" and "pasta". He'll also figure out that I bought pasta and also bought sauce with olives. Provided I have the freedom to choose to use or not use a comma after the last word in a series of words, I choose to use the comma to prevent possible misunderstanding in some "sticky-situation" types of sentences.
For the most part, eliminating what is viewed as "unnecessary punctuation" tends to be what many people (again, in America) require and/or prefer. Someone who prefers more traditional, more formal, English grammar will prefer the more traditional approach to punctuation.
I just did a quick look to see what's out there on this, and here's a "dot edu" page on it:(and, I guess, a lot of the other rules about commas) http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm
I pepper my writing like I pepper my food. Then I read it, get frustrated at all of the unnecessary stops and start scooping the extra commas out.
As a rule it is always used after and ,howe.ver it is accepted either way
This picture pretty much sums up how I feel. I am in favor of the oxford comma!!
From my grammer education, I have been taught to use commas, here and not there! Using a comma before the word "and", is redundent in English writing.
I use commas here, there, and there. I am a perfectionist by nature, so I think I feel that I have left something incomplete if I have not added that last one!
As a writer, I was taught to use commas after and, or any preposition that starts a sentence. If I'm having difficulties placing commas, I'll rewrite the sentence or use a comma after a subordinating conjunction; something like that.
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