I Have a Grammar Secret Sin

I am here to admit my sins to the world in case you haven’t noticed. I have to admit it and the first step to making a change is admitting you have a problem. I am a rule breaker. I don’t know how to properly use commas. It’s not that I never knew. I did know exactly how to use a comma, but then I got sloppy and relied more and more on grammar check I just forgot the basic rules.

So as a refresher, here are the basics from the Purdue OWL web site.

  1. Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of the seven conjunctions: and, yet, but, for, or, nor, so, yet. (Remember Conjunction Junction what’s your function?)
  2. Use commas after introductory a) clauses b) phrases c) words that come before the main clause. Common starter words although, as, because, if, since, when, while. However, don’t put a comma after the main clause when a subordinate clause follows it.
  3. Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Use one comma before to indicate the beginning of the pause  and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause.
  4. DO NOT  use commas  to set off essential elements of the sentence, such as clauses beginning with (relative clauses). That clauses after nouns are always essential. That clauses following a verb expressing mental action are always essential.
  5. Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases or clauses written in a series.
  6. Use commas to separate two or more coordinating adjectives that describe the same noun. Be careful never to add an extra comma between final adjective and the noun itself or to use commas with non-coordinating adjectives.
  7. Use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasted coordinated elements or to indicate a distinct pause or shift.
  8. Use commas to set off phrases at the end of the sentence that refer to the beginning or middle of the sentence. Such phrases are free modifiers that can be placed anywhere in the sentence without causing confusion. (If the placement of the modifier causes confusion, then it is not “Free” and must remain bound to the word it modifies.)
  9. Use a comma to set off geographical names, items in dates, (except Month and day), addresses, (except street number and name.) and titles in a name.
  10. Use a comma to shift between the main discourse and a quotation.
  11. Use commas whenever necessary to prevent possible confusion or misreading.
  12. Don’t use a comma to separate the subject and the verb.
  13. Don’t put a comma between the two verbs or verb phrases in a compound predicate.
  14. Don’t put a comma between two nouns, noun phrases or noun clauses in a compound subject or compound object.
  15. Don’t put a comma after the main clause when a dependent (subordinate) clause follows it (except for cases of extreme contrast.)

Whew, what a lot of rules to remember as you’re typing away at 70 words per minute or as fast as the characters in your head are talking to you. I remembered some of the rules without needing to look them up and used them regularly, but others I need to work on for sure. What is your Grammar sin? Confess it in the comment box below. What is your grammar secret sin?

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4 thoughts on “I Have a Grammar Secret Sin

  1. I have to confess my comma sin also. I know the rules, but I also tend to forget them. I sometimes don’t even think about the comma when I write. There are other times when I consider the squiggly form of punctuation an annoyance. There are days I worry I will get a knock at the door, and the grammar police will be standing on the other side to confid=scate my keyboard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Billie. I hope this finds you well. Here’s my secret—not so secret—- i loathe grammar and commas are the worst! I’ll stare at one for five minutes and then convince myself it doesn’t belong only to then go put it back in 🤬 seriously. I do that. I think Editors need jobs and that’s why they were invented— to take care of commas!🤪


  3. I just paid my editor 1,000 dollars to take care of my commas and she did thank heaven, but I’m still gonna take that remedial grammar class and see if I can’t bring my comma game up to snuff. How are you. I bet you are pretty busy getting ready for the writing retreat next month. I’m looking forward to it.


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