1. grizzlelee
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    grizzlelee New Member

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    Need help with comma placement

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by grizzlelee, May 21, 2009.

    Hello.
    I am in need of help with comma placement for the following sentences. After staring at my story for hours, I am becoming a bit bleary-eyed. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.


    "Other citizens soon rallied around Charlie and on Election Day he was elected mayor of Johnstown in a sweeping victory. His tenure would be short-lived however when on inauguration day he was seen sleepwalking in public."

    "Suddenly the sound of thunder arose and in the distance a gray cloud appeared."

    "There mounted on the wall were two deer heads staring back at them."

    "Sometimes I'll throw on some cheese but it really just depends."

    "Town officials now began calling for the park's permanent closure but owners Ted and Betty Shanks remained adamant."

    "They're great to huddle under. Plus when it's all over you can just hose it off."
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    That's by no means definitive....there are plenty of ways you could use commas there, or even not use them at all.There are no hard and fast rules for using commas anymore, so really just use them whenever you need a pause or to seperate something or yeah....
     
  3. grizzlelee
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    grizzlelee New Member

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    Thank you so much for the suggestions. I appreciate it.
     
  4. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Example one: Two independent clauses connected with a small conjunction needs to be separated by a comma. Second sentence: "However" separates an independent clause and a dependent clause, so two commas are needed. If it had separated two independent clauses, then a semicolon and comma would be used instead.

    Example two: A introductory word, phrase, or clause needs to have a comma after it when followed by an independent clause. What follows are two independent clauses separated by a small conjunction.

    Example three: The comma is optional--I think.

    Example four: A dependent clause followed by an independent clause connected with a small conjunction needs a comma.

    Example five: Same as the first example.

    Example six: Introductory word follow by an introductory clause followed by an independent clause. Commas go before introductory words, phrases, and clauses when followed by an independent clause.

    I hope this helps.
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    BTW no comma is needed after mounted on the wall because it is not an introductory clause or phrase. It is part of words that follow.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    are you serious? you definitely need one....just read the sentence and its pretty clear...

    also in your first example, if you already use a conjunction the comma isn't necessary. In fact, word auto-removes the comma if you do it...
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Word isn't good with grammar. Two independent clauses seperated by a small conjunction needs a comma unless they are both very short, such as: Jill fell down and Bill cried.

    There is no rule that tells us to place a comma after mounted on the wall. It feels like there should be a natural pause there, but no comma is needed where we naturally pause.

    Rules for commas.
     
  8. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll take a stab at this...
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not in British/Commonwealth English.
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Hey, Marina. I hope you don't mind if I point out one thing.

    "Town officials now began calling for the park's permanent closure, but owners, Ted and Betty Shanks, remained adamant."

    I would say the commas before Ted and Betty Shanks are not needed. However, if it was reverse they would be.

    "Town officials now began calling for the park's permanent closure, but Ted and Betty Shanks, the owners, remained adamant."

    Here, the commas would be needed before and after the apositive parenthetical element.

    But the way it originallt appears, if you remove Ted and Betty Shanks, the meaning of the sentence changes.

    "Town officials now began calling for the park's permanent closure, but owners remained adamant." << Doesn't the meaning change? Without Ted and Betty Shanks all the owners remained adamant, or at least, a certain unknown amount did.

    Therefore, I believe the commas shouldn't come before and after Ted and Betty Shank, since that information is restrictive (needed), or the meaning changes.
     
  11. archer88i
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    archer88i Member

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    The thing to keep in mind is that commas used to set off clauses always come in pairs--with the common exception that if there is no more sentence on one side of the clause, you don't need a comma there to set it off.

    Example:
    Some clauses, specifically nonrestrictive clauses, need to be set off by commas. This is so the editor knows which words he can throw in the garbage if you waste too many column-inches.

    Exception:
    When I look at a balloon, I see nonrestrictive clauses.

    Commas used in serial and to aid conjunctions in joining sentences are another matter and do not come in pairs. In all other cases, remember: if you remove one comma surrounding a clause, you should remove the other one too.
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I keep my commas in a pretty glass bowl on the end table to the left of the sofa.
     
  13. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Hey, this reminds me, I tend to put commas in front of 'and' a lot. Is this a complete grammatical error, or can I be allowed it? :D
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    depends on the context of the and.
     
  15. archer88i
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    archer88i Member

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    In serial, commas in front of "and" are optional (although it's usually beneficial to include them as lists are often much clearer if you include the Oxford comma).

    In joining two COMPLETE sentences (subject + predicate), it is necessary to include the comma

    Example: I went to the park today, and my stupid dog yakked in the sandbox.

    In joining a complete sentence with a not so complete sentence (subject + predicate + predicate), one should NOT include the comma.

    Example: I went to the park today and yakked in the sandbox.
     
  16. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oops, my bad. I totally agree, arch. I was reading it as "the owners, Ted and Betty Shanks..." which would have made the commas correct, right?
     
  17. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I'm pretty sure if it was written, but the owners, Ted and Betty Shanks, . . . then it would mean, Ted and Betty Shanks are the only owners, so the commas would be needed. However, because the meaning would be clear, I think you could leave them out as well. It's funny how the word "the" can change everything.

    Another example where the commas should technically be there, but you can leave them out is:

    His wife Mary went to the store.

    You could enclose Mary in commas, but their not needed because the meaning is clear without them. If it was the other way around, the commas would have to be there.

    Mary, his wife, went to the store.

    I only wrote that for the benefit of others that might read this thread because you already know this stuff. You're a smart cookie. (Wow, I just used a lame cliche'.)
     
  18. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    See, this is my problem. I can see that it's not needed, but my natural impulse is to insert commas. Not sure why. I had a teacher that emphasized that I needed to put a comma in whenever I'd hear a pause in the sentence--well, I hear pauses everywhere! :D
     
  19. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    If I put a comma everywhere I heard a pause, each page would look like someone shot it up with a comma-happy machine gun.
     
  20. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Inserting commas (obviously not toooo many!) is a useful device when writing dialogue then I guess--it individualises the speech pattern.
     
  21. grizzlelee
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    grizzlelee New Member

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    Thanks again. I do appreciate all the comments.

    Unfortunately, I am often more confused than not even when I try to follow the rules for standard comma placement. Perhaps it is just my poor writing or choice of words, but it often looks like I've taken the "comma-happy machine gun" approach.

    Also, if writing in a conversational style, would or could the comma placement be different to indicate set pauses?

    Is anything set in stone, or is it really just up to the individual author?




    By the way, here a few more sentences to ponder the comma placement-

    Which sounds better-
    "The deer were alive and trashing the heck out of the garden gnomes."
    "The deer were alive and were trashing the heck out of the garden gnomes."
    "The deer were alive and they were trashing the heck out of the gnomes."

    "Unfortunately no pictures were taken and no one else ever saw the injury but the cororner swears it was true."

    "Some circus performer had lit his hat on fire and as he was dancing around it flew off and ignited the stage curtains."

    "Quickly grabbing the doll she yelled to her brother and they both ran inside."
     
  22. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I can't speak for UK English or AU English because I've never learned all of their rules, but in American English we always place a comma before a small conjunction that connects two independent clauses.

    The only real exception to this rule is when both clauses are short and no confusion is created when the comma is removed, but leaving the comma there is always correct.

    Here is a website for the mandatory rules. http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/punct/comma.html

    There are not many, and they are easy to learn.

    "The deer were alive and trashing the heck out of the garden gnomes."
    "The deer were alive and were trashing the heck out of the garden gnomes."
    "The deer were alive and they were trashing the heck out of the gnomes."

    The first sentence should be trashed. The second sentence is correct. The third sentence needs a comma before and.
     
  23. AliceInBookland
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    AliceInBookland Member

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    I think most of it's been covered, but:

    "Other citizens soon rallied around Charlie[highlight],[/highlight] and on Election Day[highlight],[/highlight] he was elected mayor of Johnstown in a sweeping victory. His tenure would be short-lived[highlight],[/highlight] however[highlight],[/highlight] when[highlight],[/highlight] on Inauguration Day[highlight],[/highlight] he was seen sleepwalking in public."

    Most people have been missing the comma after 'when' and the second 'Day'. As you can see, this makes the comma-to-word ratio in that sentence a little overwhelming! I would suggest removing the 'however'. I would also suggest splitting up the first sentence. My final version would be:

    "Other citizens soon rallied around Charlie[highlight]. On[/highlight] Election Day, he was [highlight]declared[/highlight] mayor of Johnstown in a sweeping victory. His tenure would be short-lived [highlight]when,[/highlight] on Inauguration Day[highlight],[/highlight] he was seen sleepwalking in public."

    If you capitalize Election Day, you should also capitalize Inauguration Day. Also, the word "elected" after "Election Day" is a bit repetitive.

    Good luck!
     
  24. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    By the way, Arch, commas are needed before and after proper nouns used as a direct address. Therefore, commas would be needed before and after "Ted and Betty Shanks" because they are the proper noun of a direct address.

    ~Lynn
     
  25. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    I think I have the same problem as you. Sentences can be written in many ways, and I am always confused as which to pick as the sentence.

    Is it just about picking which one sounds better in the paragraph?
     

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