I HATE COMMAS

When a thought takes one’s breath away, a grammar lesson seems an impertinence.

Thomas W. Higginson quotes (American Clergyman, Author, Minister and Abolitionist, 18231911)

 

I have decided to create a new app.  I haven’t decided on a name but the premise behind the app is that most people hate commas as much as I do.   The app will work much like Grammar Check in Word.  It will take your writing and add or subtract commas as necessary.   Grammar Check in Word is useless when it comes to commas.

My friend from England tells me they have different rules for commas and quotation marks, etc. than we do here in the states.  When you search the internet for answers, you find conflicting answers.  The rule is usually this but sometimes you can do it the other way.    This is the rule but it is optional.  How is a rule optional?  If it were optional, wouldn’t that be a suggestion?

To join two independent clauses, use a comma followed by a conjunction, a semicolon alone, or a semicolon followed by a sentence modifier.   I found this on a site claiming to make understanding grammar simple.  I am challenging their claim.  This reads more like something from an attorney.  It is rule number one of eleven.  A page of examples and exceptions follows each rule.

Before I started sharing my writing with others, I didn’t really care about grammatical syntax, changing verb tenses, colons, semicolons, dangling participles, and more.  Now, as I begin to write I am suddenly back in high school trying to memorize rules about commas and diagramming sentences.   (Grammar Check just told me to put a comma after suddenly.  REALLY?)

I took a writing class last year and part of the critique I received was that I tended to use run on sentences and change verb tense at different times.   Yes, I use run on sentences.  I know I do.  When I edit a piece, I look for sentences I can separate.  I also tend to use the passive voice too much.  Is that a Freudian thing?  Maybe it is a reflection on life.  I hope not.   The teacher told me a couple of things about my writing style are things she typically doesn’t recommend for writers, but I do them so well, I should break the rules.

I sometimes feel I lose something in my writing by being so concerned about all the grammar rules.   I would hate to have my writing disregarded because of the incorrect use of commas.   Either I create an app that will handle the commas and make other grammatical errors easier to remedy or I my friend from England to correct all of it.   She is one of the best proofreaders I know.  Neither seems like a perfect solution.    If you figure this out, please let me know.  Just be sure the grammar is correct!

8 responses

  1. Keep up with your writing! I think the best type of writing is when it sounds real. I always feel like a moron when I switch my sentences around so that I don’t end with a preposition. In the end, who cares? The people who you want to care about your stuff are the people who will love it for the content, not all of that technical crap. Writing is about expressing yourself. I ‘hear’ you when I read your writing. I love that! And I guess if you want to be published and famous, hire an editor! Or take advantage of a few really passionate friends who love you a lot. I will always proofread your stuff for you! I am really good at spotting typos, spelling mistakes and verb / tense agreements. As far as grammar, I’ve learned all I know from Sally. My grammar is flawed more often than I’d like it to be! She is a true grammar queen!

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  2. I struggle with too much passive voice in my writing as well. It’s something to look for when editing. Keep on writing! There are some fantastic resoruces on the web to help with grammer. Two of my favorites are kestrelsaerie.com and http://www.patrickkphillips.com/. And if you ever have a question you want to ask, just pop over to Saucy Ink and post it in our Usage and Style section.

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  3. I used to be an English teacher, but I’ve been out of the classroom a long time now. When I started preaching, my writing changed. Instead of writing the way I was taught to write, I started writing to be heard. Sermons are meant to be heard, not read, although I am asked to make copies of it for those who want a copy. I print a disclaimer at the top saying that the former English teacher in me wants to point out that this is meant for ears, not eyes.

    I said all of that to say that my writing may well be a grammatical disaster these days. I’m loose with commas, use dashes – like this – for those little thoughts that interrupt and yet add to a sentence, and use lots of parentheses (like this) because it’s just darn fun. I don’t even know what the rules are anymore, but as long as I can be understood, I don’t worry too much. That’s what an editor is for – if I ever make it that far!

    As for that app – keep it in my price range and make an Android version of it. I’ll be first in line to buy it!

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  4. […] I Hate Commas (cathysvoicenow.wordpress.com) 40.683007 -73.980065 Share this:ShareFacebookTwitterTumblrLinkedInPinterestRedditStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Post and tagged David Berkowitz, Grammar, Jimmy Breslin. […]

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  5. Great post! I have a friend from England, too…my wife. When it comes to grammatical rules, we have our fair share of bloody good disputes. One of these days that woman will drive me into driving on the left side of the road!!!

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  6. […] I Hate Commas (cathysvoicenow.wordpress.com) Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterDiggLinkedInPrintStumbleUponRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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  7. […] I stop obsessing about commas.  No one likes commas anyway! You can read my thoughts on that here.  I write because I love to write.  It is a part of who I am. I just have to get out of the […]

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  8. […] Twitter feeds? As you can see, commas are very useful. Despite the comma’s obvious utility, many people hate it. You could follow the rules on when to use and not to use the comma, but rules are […]

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