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  1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Comma questions.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by GuardianWynn, Oct 14, 2015.

    Okay. So my grammar checking soft ware keeps saying something. I wonder if it is right or if it is wrong. And hopefully in either case maybe understanding it.

    Many times I am finding myself using the word "though". Generally like this.

    The woman wasn't that concerned though, being late wasn't the end of the world.
    or
    Her eyes could see it clearly though.

    The grammar process seems to think that every time I use the word "though" that it needs a comma before the word. It gives this as a reason.

    It appears that you are missing a comma or two with the interrupter though. Consider adding the comma(s).

    Adding a comma before though seems awakrd in the above examples.

    Second issue.

    Looking inside, she saw Victoria's shadow and raced to keep it in her sight.

    When the comma is removed it labels this as a sentence fragment. Why?


    Thank you. :)
     
  2. Jeff Countryman
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    Jeff Countryman Living the dream Supporter

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    I'm bad for not putting the comma before 'though' - get caught on it every time. I can't answer why as all comma rules confuse me :) I just try to get into the habit of doing it properly.

    The second example is common (at least I'm in the habit of using that one correctly). I think it's because it's a qualifying phrase and thus needs to be separated.

    I once had an editor/friend who sent me a text after editing one of my short storiess that went something like this:

    Dear Jeff:

    I'm returning these to you: ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,. I don't have enough storage on my computer to hold all your useless commas and thought you could recycle them.

    :) Commas will be the death of me.
     
  3. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know all the special english terms... But I'll try to help. :p

    Technically, your first example of "though" is a run-on sentence. It should read, "The woman wasn't that concerned though. Being late wasn't the end of the world."

    I don't put commas before my thoughs, unless more words come after it. "Her stomach hurt, though she didn't know why." Maybe I should, though. :p Who knows?

    As for the second question, I try to keep this rule of thumb regarding commas. If you naturally stop there while speaking, insert a comma. When saying aloud, "Looking inside, she saw Victoria," most people naturally pause after "inside," even if there's no comma. You don't just run all the words together. "Looking inside she saw Victoria." No. It's more natural to say, "Looking inside (pause) she saw Victoria."

    Again, don't know all the fancy terms. lol But that's my two cents.
     
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  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    First example - yes, you need a comma before 'though' pretty much every time. It won't read awkwardly to most people. If you're worried, I would reword the sentence to remove 'though' rather than eliminating the commas.

    Second example - it's still a full sentence when you remove the comma, not a fragment, but it does read awkwardly.

    Word processor grammar checks are often wrong because they don't know the context of your sentence.
     
  5. AniGa
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    AniGa Member

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    I firmly believe that the purpose of commas is to make the text pleasant and easy to read.
    Thus, I see commas as things to put a) in the places where someone reading the text (or speaking the dialogue) would take one of the short breaths we constantly take while talking and b) in the places where someone would simply "break" his or her flow of words while reading out loud (or, again, speaking the dialogue)
    .
    So that's where I put 'em, simple as that.


    Greets,
    AniGa
     
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, as @Lea`Brooks pointed out, this sentence contains a comma splice error (when you use a comma to separate two complete sentences) that needs correcting: The woman wasn't that concerned though, being late wasn't the end of the world.

    I'm seeing lots of comma splicing in first drafts these days. It's apparently quite a common error. Don't know why it's cropping up so often at the moment, but it is. (It's one that drives the leader of our writing group totally demented! He has been known to raise his voice and shake his fist :supermad: ...comically, of course.)

    As for "though," I think @Tenderiser is right. Ordinarily it needs a comma (as does "however") ...but in creative writing you can play fast and loose with this kind of thing, if you feel leaving the comma out really improves the flow. But be careful not to do it too often though. :) It will put some people off.
     
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  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The woman wasn't that concerned, though. Being late wasn't the end of the world.

    Google "grammar girl + comma splice" for more information.

    Her eyes could see it clearly, though.

    MS Word's way of telling you "dude, you're doing it wrong." I suggest you google "grammar girl + participle" and "grammar girl + gerund" to learn more. :)

    Grammar can be tricky. Commas can be super tricky. Like @jannert said, creative writing permits some leeway, but at least learning the basic comma rules and conventions will help you deviate from them more smoothly. Otherwise your writing will look grammatically shaky, and that's going to deter agents / publishers. The reason I'm asking you to google Grammar Girl is that even a dumb-dumb like me is able to grasp grammar stuff when she explains it, so I've deemed it a handy source. :D
     
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  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If you look through a few dictionaries, you'll find that they give different advice regarding comma usage when the sentence ends with "though." Some prefer the comma, while others don't. There are even some dictionaries (Oxford, for example) that use both examples, so it looks like it's correct either way. I think it looks cleaner without a comma, but that's just my opinion.

    Also, don't rely heavily on grammar checking software. It makes a lot of mistakes, so it's best to use your own judgement in these types of situations. For your second question, there should technically be a comma there (as you have it). However, creative writing isn't particularly strict when it comes to grammar and punctuation, so the writer is free to experiment. So it's fine without the comma, though I would argue it depends on context. I tend to include the comma more often than not in such cases.
     
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  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the help. Boy did this thread explode over night. Now if only the publishing question thread would explode. lol


    Every time? Why is that true? I mean. I mean, when I read it aloud or put it through a reader. It sounds bad to pause before though. So why would it always be needed? Would this perhaps be like something else I have scene. Being the term elses? It always pops elses as a typo. So I rephrase the sentence to make it else instead. Like;

    Though, the woman wasn't concerned; being later wasn't the end of the world.
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm the wrong person to ask for technical explanations. :D I know many of the rules but I don't know why they're rules.

    In the example you just posted, the though is an introductory phrase so you would separate it with a comma. If it came later in the sentence you would still comma it but I don't know why...
     
  11. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    I'll dare to join into this discussion. I might be wrong, but here's my explanation why you have to put a comma before "though."

    Though is classified as an adverb. Adverbs are optional constituents (i.e. parts) of clauses. The sentence wouldn't be broken if you removed the word. In order to make it clear to the reader which constituents of the sentence are decorative and which are obligatory, you put optional parts in commas.

    This rule of, of course, is not directed at adverbs modifying verbs: She ran quickly down the street.
    In this case, the adverb is a verbal modifier. It is dependent of the verb. Adverbs which are put in front of a sentence or at the very end (and separated by a comma) are independent of other constituents. These are called adverbial phrases (even when consisting of one single word). They modify the entire sentence and can be "said" to stand above the other constituents instead of depending on them.

    Linguistics like to draw tree diagrams of how a sentence can be split up. Imagine how you would do it. In your first two examples, you would have to put the adverbial phrase (i.e. "though") at the top of the diagram. You couldn't put the word beneath the verb, right? Therefore it is an adverbial phrase, and adverbial phrases are separated by a comma from the rest of the sentence.
     
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  12. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sadly. I suck. I only comprehended about half of this wonderful post. :cry:
     
  13. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    I learned something, but as a stubborn self centered auto-didact in many fields, I have come up with rules that I decided to learn from textbooks, literature and online. Others I have ignored altogether because of lack of clarity or exceptions. I like rules that are definite. Though is something I have used less for its abverbial usage and more for a colloquialism. It makes the text read more like speech rather than formal narration.

    I may not be the best writer, but, I still learn. This "though" business is interesting to learn, and knowing it can make me sound at least somewhat learned when I defend it.

    Examples of where I will put the comma (it was mentioned above, as a break)

    She was late, though she didn't care.

    She hate his guts though.

    If I read "She hated his guts, though" I think of Homer Simpson, "she hated his guts, D'oh!"

    AB
     
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  14. davidov
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    davidov Member

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    Microsoft Word is usually a stickler for commas but I see that Word doesn't suggest commas for your examples.
    I try to keep the number of commas down for fluidity (such as just then), but it's often a dilemma because I was brought up to be polite.
     

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