1. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Commas

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by zaffy, Jan 11, 2010.

    "My Lady, isn’t it time you came home properly announced, instead of skulking like this undercover?”

    Are these commas correctly positioned?
    Include an explanation please. Thank you.

    I think my confusion is because, if the commas were treated as parenthesis commas, either end of the sentence joined up would read. "My Lady, instead of skulking like this undercover."

    Just when I think everything is perfectly clear, I get another spanner in the works.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you're misinterpreting it... in straightforward order, it would be:

    and notice the comma that's needed after 'this'... 'undercover' could also go before 'like'... get yourself a good punctuation guide...
     
  3. thecommabandit
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    thecommabandit Member

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    The order of the words is a stylistic concern, not grammatical.

    I'm not a good authority when it comes to commas (my name is because in my youth I used to sling them about like nobody's business) but this looks alright to me:
     
  4. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    I thought if there were two commas in a sentence the words between the commas could be removed, leaving the words either side still making sense.
    I think it is called the parenthesis comma rule.
    Maybe the rule does not apply when putting a comma after a proper noun.

    My version
    “My Lady, isn’t it time you came home properly announced, instead of skulking like this undercover?”
    My version would turn out like this.
    "My Lady, instead of skulking like this undercover?”

    Mammamaia’s version
    “Isn’t it time you came home properly announced, My Lady, instead of skulking like this, undercover?”
    Mammamaia’s version would turn out like this …
    “Isn’t it time you came home properly announced instead of skulking like this, undercover?”

    Commabandit’s version
    “My Lady, isn’t it time you came home properly announced instead of skulking like this, undercover.
    Commanbandit’s would turn out like this.
    “My Lady, undercover.”

    If I have interpreted this rule properly, it looks like Mammamaia is a clear winner.
    Or not?
     
  5. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    This message is now deleted, I hope.
     
  6. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Sorry, I tried to edit my message but ended up duplicating it instead.
    Instructions please.
     
  7. Ecksvie
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    Ecksvie Member

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    In my eyes, its a stylistic thing rather than grammatical as thecommabandit said. There are all sorts of ways you can debate about what is right, but 99.9% of your readers really wont notice.

    There are probably rules you can apply, but I think it's much more important to stick the way your character would say it and it sounding right, rather than being right.
     
  8. thecommabandit
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    thecommabandit Member

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    That would be right if we were talking just about parenthesis. Using commas is one way to accomplish parenthesis, others being brackets (often called "parenthesis") or hyphens. Just because there are two commas in a sentence doesn't mean that the sentence contains parenthesis, as commas are mostly used to separate clauses of a sentence. For example, in mammamaia's version "My Lady" would be in parenthesis but in your original one and mine there isn't any in the sentence.
     
  9. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    If only it were that easy.
    Publishers and agents will not touch work if it is grammatically incorrect, and peers are even more ferocious.
    I put a piece of my work on a website for review,and it was torn apart, (in a kind way).
    Most said the bad grammar got in the way of a good story.
    I am now trying to analyse a million and one rules, with a million and one interpretations. As soon as I feel I have something under my belt, I uncover yet another twist. However, I am determined to master commas, if it kills me.
    Apologies if this paragraph is full of of comma errors,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Just because there are two commas in a sentence doesn't mean that the sentence contains parenthesis ...

    Thanks Commabandit.
    For me, your sentence above is a diamond. Another penny has dropped.
     
  10. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    Forget 'my Lady' and just work with what comes after the vocative, Zaff.

    'My Lady' a vocative (vocative is the techincal term when you address someone directly), it's naturally seperated from the rest of the clause with a comma:

    James, what are you doing?
    Liz, get out of there.

    Other than showing direct address, vocatives, like interjections (your, 'erm', 'yeah', like' etc), they have no grammatical tie to the rest of the clause. Take them out, the clause works perfectly fine without it:

    Isn’t it time you came home properly announced, instead of skulking like this undercover?”:

    you can see there's nothing parenthetic about it now.

    So you look at the grammar after the the vocative...

    You have a comma after 'announced' / before 'instead'. What is it trying to do? At the moment it suggests a pause that, when spoken outloud, doesn't flow right. So you remove it:

    isn’t it time you came home properly announced instead of skulking like this undercover?”

    Everything flows better until you get to 'undercover'. Mam's suggestion of a comma is fine, of you could opt for any other form of creative emphasis.

    You've got good instincts. You say up there that just because there are two commas, it doesn't make parenthesis. It's not, not here. A vocative is simply being seperated from the main clause to indicate that someone is being directly addressed (Think of it in tone. When you address someone by their name, your tone changes. 'Come here, luv'. That comma suggests that change in tone and nothing else.) So that only leaves you to work out any grammar problems with the rest of the clause (anything after the vocative).

    "My Lady, isn’t it time you came home properly announced instead of skulking like this, undercover?”

    Google 'vocative' and it will help you out in trying to get your head round the grammar.
     

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