Let’s hear it for the comma

Commas are vastly underrated, in my own humble opinion. Sadly, a lot of us aren’t actually familiar with how to properly use commas, which is why I think there is a little hostility towards them, but once you gain an understanding of how and further why they work, you’re smooth sailing, my friends.

I thought it might be beneficial to clear the air on commas, if you will, and provide my own personal explanation of what they are, how they work, when to use them, and also, when not to use them.

Comma splice ain’t nice.

A comma is used to join two separate clauses, or sentences, together. A lot of us shut down internally when we hear the term clause, but I promise it isn’t nearly as terrifying or confusing as it sounds. Rather than give you the wordy and confusing as fuck definition you’ll find on the internet, consider clauses as sentences. This isn’t an entirely correct analogy, but it works for me, and for a lot of other people.

So, as an example, say your two clauses, or sentences, are as follows:

  • I was hungry
  • I ate right before I left

Rather than keeping these two clauses as separate sentences (they sound choppy and harsh), we can join them into one single sentence and use a comma to distinguish the separation. For example, “I was hungry, however, I had eaten just before I left.”

Commas are also intended to symbolize a pause or a break in a sentence for the reader. Essentially, when you see a comma in any text you are reading, stop for a moment. They’re often used to allow the former sentence or component of a sentence to sink in to the reader before they carry on to the next sentence.

Comma splice is the improper use of commas, meaning putting them in a text or sentence where they do not belong and serve no purpose. This happens a lot in run-on sentences. For example, the following would be comma splice: “When are, we going to, the supermarket for groceries?”

I hope this helps.

2 thoughts on “Let’s hear it for the comma

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