Thursday, April 3, 2014

Not Your Momma's Comma


OMG, can you believe I just sat through a two-hour class specifically dedicated to commas?



Since my day job at the county Extension Office requires printed communications and releases to the public, we need to adhere to our specific county style manual. When someone gets a wild hair to update the style manual, classes are offered to update the personnel, too : ) Of course, taking these refresher classes looks good on my yearly performance review too. Normally, this is NOT a topic I’d share here in Seekerville, but I found I had a lot of misconceived notions over the usage of the lowly comma and thought I’d share.

I hope Grammar Queen pops in occasionally. This stuff is right up her alley : )

When my kids were in elementary school, I did well to teach them the mechanics of simple punctuation. Piece of cake, right? By the time they went to middle school, the sentences became more complex, but I could still use the tried and true technique of placing a comma wherever I paused while reading a sentence (which, by the way, the instructor of this class asserted has NEVER been a rule of grammar).

It wasn’t until high school that the English Department skewered me. My daughter handed a report she’d written to me and asked me to “sprinkle in some commas.” Hmm, the paper was actually good! Anyway, I did my thing with commas and was dumbfounded when she got her paper back with a note specific to poor punctuation.

What??? 

I won’t begin to compare my grammar skills to Grammar Queen, but hey, I don’t get that many red squiggly lines from MS Word indicating my punctuation is not that bad!

Still with me? I hope so.

Speedbo is over and now many of you are taking the Self-Editing Night Class offered by Tina Radcliffe. The more tools you have to add to your manuscript-polishing toolbox, the better. Agents and editors receive scads of submissions for review – it’s up to you to make yours the best it can be. I’m certainly not going to recap the whole two hours of comma reintroduction I endured, but I would like to share some comma rules that seemed to change on some sort of whim...or am I imagining things??

Remember, I am NOT a comma expert. Frankly, after sitting through 7 hours of grammar refresher, it's a wonder I can successfully link together two coherent words!

USE A COMMA:

Between two independent clauses joined by coordinating or correlative conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, either)

Pam used to keep a business journal, but now she uses spreadsheets.

To set off nonrestrictive appositives (non-essential information), phrases, and clauses.

Janet’s first critique partner, her former friend, was very critical.

DO NOT USE A COMMA:

Around a restrictive appositive.

Anyone who wants to room with Glynna at conference has to go to bed early and be an early riser.

Between two adjectives if the first modifies the idea of the second and the following noun (cumulative adjectives).

Sandra wants to replace her old ratty pickleball racket.




The final section of the class covered Optional Commas:

After short introductory adverbial phrases, a comma is not necessary unless misreading is likely.

On Monday Cara met with her critique partner.

In 2013 Missy Tippens was a RITA finalist.

This afternoon Debby will be crafting her next romantic suspense.

BUT…

Before eating, Ruthy explained the ingredients in her famous Snickerdoodles.

When Myra decided to move, the Seekers down south welcomed her.

A comma is not necessary between two short and closely connected independent clauses, especially if the connective is and (unless misreading is likely).

Julie went to the party and Tina stayed at the conference.

The word “too,” meaning “also,” is often set off with commas in the middle of sentences, but not so often at the end of a sentence.

Mary went to the party too.

Finally, the serial comma is considered optional by many people (journalists, in particular), but beware the possibility of misreading. I couldn’t help but include an example from the class…

To our parents, Mother Teresa and God.




I realize today’s post isn’t the most entertaining of Seekerville fame, but it is important to consider stylistic elements as you edit your Speedbo creations. The editors are looking for great stores so you don’t want anything to draw their attention from your hard work.

Reference style manuals. Take Tina’s Self-Editing night class. Do everything you can to take the hard earned words from Speedbo during March and transform them into the masterpieces worthy of The Call!!

Let’s talk giveaways now. 

FIRST, I’ll draw a name for a copy of the latest edition Elements of Style, either paperback or ebook, winner’s choice. 



SECOND, Seekerville offers Night Classes and I’m offering one enrollment fee for Jill ElizabethNelson’s Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View.


AND…THIRD…


Have you heard? Second Chance Ranch, my first indie release, is now available for Kindle! Check out this cover – it’s gorgeous!! I’m giving away a copy of Second Chance Ranch, too!


SECOND CHANCE RANCH
Pediatric oncology nurse, Jennifer O’Reilly returns home to Hawk Ridge, Colorado to establish a mountain recreation camp as a safe adventure for children battling cancer. Her path to ownership depends on developing a profitable business plan to convince the bank she can manage not only the camping facility, but the entire Trails’ End Ranch operation.
Generations earlier, one misplayed hand of poker lost part of the family ranch, and Zac Davidson, youngest son and financial genius of the Circle D, wants it back. Intrigued since childhood by the legend of his great grandfather, Zac is the only family member who holds out hope that one day the ranch would become Davidson property again. When the ranch goes on the market, money is no object, only Jennifer O’Reilly stands between him and his dream.


High school sweethearts, Jennifer and Zac have wounded each other, and the scars run deep. Jennifer is forced to reveal a secret she’s protected for twelve years. Will past mistakes jeopardize the future of both of their dreams or give them a second chance?

Audra Harders, writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring cowboys who haven't a clue about relationships rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and is surrounded by everything conducive to writing about farming, ranching and cowboys at her day job in the county Extension office. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in-between reminds her God does have her plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. 

114 comments:

Helen Gray said...

Coffee's in the works.

It's sure a good thing you gave examples with some of those terms. :)

Thanks for another educations post.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well you don't mess around. Those are comma, some prizes.

Helen Gray said...

educational

Marianne Barkman said...

Loved the samples! I imagined a few of them without! Thanks for coming, Audra. Love the coffee, Helen. I'm baking cinnamon rolls to go with it.

Janet Kerr said...

Wow...thank you for an educational post.
Jan

Carol Garvin said...

Oh, wow! Two hours dedicated to commas? Who knew there was so much to learn about them?

I could sure use a copy of Elements of Style. In fact, I would love any of your giveaways today. After a month of Speedbo I need rejuvenating. :)

(I hope I have all my commas in the right places.)

Cindy W. said...

Great post Audra. It was quite informative. I sometimes find myself contemplating whether a comma really belongs in a certain place or not.
Well done!

Please toss my name in the hat for your giveaways.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Kav said...

Wonderful, not only am I trying to wrestle a synopsis into submission, but I'll be cowering before the lowly comma all day long as well. (Did I get the comma right there?)

I got mini panic attacks when I read the highlighted statements. Is that normal? I could understand the examples though.

Sigh, I for see a lot of run on sentences in my future for fear of placing the comma in the wrong spot. :-)

I'm reading Second Chance Ranch right now. I just reached a pivotal point and it's driving me crazy because I can't read it on the bus!!!! I have to wait until after synopsis to finish. :-(

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Commas are such variant things! And people have no respect for semi-colons, one of my fave marks of punctuation!

WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO???

I will say honestly that I put them where they feel right because in my experience, different publishers follow slightly different modes/rules and they'll adjust as needed.

So the basics are as Audra stated, but if I forget and go old-school on a comma... someone will fix it!

I decided the last time they changed the rules that some rules are okay to be shrugged off....

:)

I love breaking rules!!!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Audra! Great post. I'm CONSTANTLY having to check on the ever-fluctuating changes in punctuation usage. Hard & fast rules that were drilled into me in classrooms and grammar books throughout school aren't, well, so hard and fast anymore. Makes for a slippery slope trying to get it all right. Thank you for the update!

Jackie said...

Good morning, Audra. I'm scared to write much this morning.

Thanks for the great examples. My favorite is not putting a comma before too at the end of a sentence. Can't tell you how many times I've been busted for that.

Thanks for sharing!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Auds, I think the kid's teacher was over-reacting.

:)

Hey, I forgot food? Is there food? Because I don't see any, and I for one am HUNGRY.....

Okay, how about breakfast sandwiches, loaded with cheese, bacon, sausage or ham and thick scrambled egg on a lightly buttered chewy, authentic-tasting bagel like the ones Arnie Menscher makes in "Red Kettle Christmas"...

I love real bagels. Looking forward to NYC next month and people watching, Mia Ross, visiting editors (watch out, Melissa!!!) and BAGELS...

Oh, two cute sons, too!!! :)

Mary Hicks said...

Audra, thanks for bringing up a subject that causes me trouble. I'm making notes for my file.

Commas may not be exciting, but they can sure cause a girl a headache when they want to bounce around in the wrong place!

Wilani Wahl said...

Audra,

Thanks for this great post.

Please consider me for your giveaways.

Liz Flaherty said...

Great post. I'm still grieving for the serial comma and the one before "too" at the end of a sentence. I think it should be enough that I've learned to only leave one space after a period!

Rose said...

Great topic. I was able to take an all day seminar grammar seminar about a year ago for my day job. I purchased the quick grammar guide for personal use.

Our instructor pretty much debunked every comma usage from the past.

What does this tell us as writers? Times change grammar and we need to keep up with the times!

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, everyone!! I have no idea whether I used that comma correctly. How dare they change the way we use our punctuation? I mean, who have them permission? And WHY after all these years, do commas need to square dance around the sentence?

I'm going to have to go back and find a picture of the 10 Commandments on the stone tablets and see whether GOD placed HIS commas properly, LOL!

Audra Harders said...

Ruthy is stomping around for food. Okay, I will feed the masses.

Since we received snow overnight in Denver, I'm bringing hot oatmeal with variety of stir-ins and hot cinnamon rolls out of the oven. Of course we need protein, so how about a sausage, mushroom and cheese frittata with home-fried potatoes.

Audra Harders said...

I'm so thankful you supply the coffee, Helen. We had a power outage last night so my coffee maker didn't start brewing on time. Bummer. I'm glad you're always here with liquid energy!!!

Audra Harders said...

Tina, we need some serious prizes after all our Speedbo-ers have been through last month!!

My word count was dismal, but I did manage to release a book on Amazon (just to give you a heads' up, you will be subjected to shameless promotion all day long).

Second Chance Ranch. A story filled with reunions and forgiveness. Remember, reviews are always welcome!!!!

kaybee said...

Audra, a helpful post.
I LOVE County Extension! I'm a journalist in my day job and always found them a great source for lifestyle features, as well as consulting with them in my personal life. While we don't have cowboys here, Extension has a wealth of other knowledge that they're happy to share For Free.
Also as a journalist, I was drilled in the AP style. I even correct restaurant menus that don't follow the AP style (in my head, that is. I'm not THAT rude).
For me it's been tough to switch over from AP to Industry Standard for fiction writing. I still tend to abbreviate people's ages and numbers in general. This is why I love Find and Replace.
I love your examples. "Before eating Ruthy..." Yes, I can see why a comma is needed there! We are Christian writers, not cannibals!
Kathy Bailey
On a roll in New Hampshire

kaybee said...

Audra, a helpful post.
I LOVE County Extension! I'm a journalist in my day job and always found them a great source for lifestyle features, as well as consulting with them in my personal life. While we don't have cowboys here, Extension has a wealth of other knowledge that they're happy to share For Free.
Also as a journalist, I was drilled in the AP style. I even correct restaurant menus that don't follow the AP style (in my head, that is. I'm not THAT rude).
For me it's been tough to switch over from AP to Industry Standard for fiction writing. I still tend to abbreviate people's ages and numbers in general. This is why I love Find and Replace.
I love your examples. "Before eating Ruthy..." Yes, I can see why a comma is needed there! We are Christian writers, not cannibals!
Kathy Bailey
On a roll in New Hampshire

Audra Harders said...

Marianne, I imagined commas all over the place and was surprized to find where they were supposed to land, LOL! I doubt this old dog will learn all the new tricks, but we need to stay on top of the industry, right?

Audra Harders said...

Janet, you are certainly welcome : )

Carol, not to fret. I still abide by the "sprinkle" theory most of the time.

Cindy W, consider your name tossed in!!

Cindy Regnier said...

Oh, I have nightmares about commas. My kids have also turned in school papers, proofread by Mom, with comma notations. (How'd I do on that sentence?) Thanks Audra. Love the cover of your book. I'm a sucker for anything with horses (and hunky cowboys).

Chill N said...

Audra, have you seen that funny saying on t-shirts, mugs, etc.? Here 'tis:

Let's eat Grandma.
Let's eat, Grandma.
Commas save lives!

Since journalism styles were mostly designed to save space on the page, I wonder if book publishers will adopt more of those styles to save money, too. Hmm. Or should that be "money too"?

Informative post. Thanks!

Nancy

Jeanne T said...

Great post, Audra. I have wondered if I knew commas well. It turns out, I don't. :) I'm glad you shared this. I'm with Helen, your examples helped me to understand what you were talking about!

Audra Harders said...

Kav, I don't understand the highlighted sentences either, LOL! No way; no how. I'm so glad our instructor had plenty of examples.

Sheesh, made me relive Jr High composition all over again!!

Yayayayay, Kav! You're reading Second Chance Ranch! You are my hero : ) I'm praying for your synopsis so you can go back and finish reading the book!!!!!

Audra Harders said...

Ruthy loves breaking rules...I never would have thought that of her!!

Yeah, right.

I'm still scratching my head and wondering who "they" are and what gives them the right mess with our punctuation usage???

Audra Harders said...

Ruthy loves breaking rules...I never would have thought that of her!!

Yeah, right.

I'm still scratching my head and wondering who "they" are and what gives them the right mess with our punctuation usage???

Audra Harders said...

Glynna, I have a volume of Chicago Manual of Style...do I use it? I open the book and my eyes immediately cross.

Yes, we need to update, but what was wrong with the old way??

Jennifer Smith said...

Thanks for this post! I am considered strange among friends and family, but I LOVE reading about punctuation and sentence structure...lol. I like the cover of your book too. :)

Pam Hillman said...

Not entertaining? Ha! What gave you THAT idea....

I found out that Julie and Mary are party girls, Tina and Glynna are not, and that Mother Teresa is my mother!

Wow, the things we discover in Seekerville!

Pam Hillman said...

My DIL asked me to read over a report she had to do about a dialysis clinic she went to for nursing school last night. It was very clean, btw, so my job was easy.

But we talked about the comma funnies:

"Let's eat Grandma!" vs. "Let's eat, Grandma!"

"Eats shoots and leaves." vs. "Eats, shoots, and leaves."

Carol Moncado said...

Oy. Two hours on commas? I think I'd be in a coma!

Don't enter me for the book because I finally remembered to check my Amazon folder [I rarely do because it gets so much that I don't need to pay attention to] and GOT MY AUDRA BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! from a couple weeks ago!! YAY!!! Thanks, Audra!!!! [And thanks for resending it when I didn't accept it in time the first time ;).]

Time to grade... :p I'd rather talk commas.

Audra Harders said...

Secret to share, Jackie...I still put a comma in front of too at the end of the sentence. Gotta quit doing that!!

Audra Harders said...

Mary Hicks, it's like my daughter says - commas are meant to be sprinkled, LOL!!

Audra Harders said...

Wilani, you are very welcome : )

Debby Giusti said...

Audra, great post!

Commas can be easy peasy if we know the rules.

Thanks for the tip on "too" and "also" not needing a comma when used at the end of a sentence. I often include the comma. The editors keep them in. I'll change.

Also the rule with the introductory clause was great. When my eldest was in high school, she was taught to use a comma if the intro clause was 7 words or more. I've never heard that from any other source except her English teacher.

Thanks too for the rule about comma use with more than one noun modifier in a series. I tend to over comma in those cases.

I'm save this one for reference!

Thank you and hugs!

Love that new book cover. Be still my heart.

DebH said...

Ruthy likes breaking rules??? Shocker! (not)

fun post today. i've comma issues a lot, i think.

please put my name in the ol' Stetson for any of the offered prizes - they all sound wonderful, especially your new blatently promoted indy book. the cover is awesome.

DebH said...

if you can't shamelessly promote your latest and greatest here, then where can you?

personally, I LOVE IT! Clues me in to what I want to read next. Seeker books are always great reads.

Naomi Rawlings said...

The tricky ones are the optional ones. My publisher doesn't use serial commas, but sometimes they're necessary for clarity. So with The Wyoming Heir, I had these long phrases set apart by serial commas. The copy editor yanked the comma--just doing her job, so I don't blame her. But it made the sentence confusing. I think I wrote my editor an entire paragraph about why that comma needed to be there and then I included links to online grammar sites to back me up.

Later I decided I was probably the only person ever in the history of the universe to writer her editor a paragraph complaining about the non-existance of a comma.

Mary wasn't joking yesterday when she said I break ALL THE RULES that normal writers follow.

Connie Queen said...

I'm sticking w/Ruthy.

"I decided the last time they changed the rules that some rules are okay to be shrugged off...."

Punctuation should make reading easier but changing the rules makes writing impossible.

Connie Queen said...

And Second Chance Ranch sounds like a terrific read.

I have several books on my PC kindle but I can't them to pull up. I've got to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Audra Harders said...

Liz, I resisted that single space after a period for years, but am on board now : ) I sat through 7 hours of writing style review...and I know the instructor had LOTS more to say.

Glad they cut us off at 7 hours : )

Audra Harders said...

Amen to that, Rose! Did you find a quick reference style guide that is truly quick reference? Please share!

Audra Harders said...

Kathy, so glad to hear you are a fan of Extension! Journalists call all the time for article research and quotes.

When I tell people where I work, so many go,"Extention? What's that?" I should assign homework: go find your county Extension Office. They will help you with everything from gardening to preserving to acreage managment to, of course, 4-H...and all for FREE!!

Our instructor hopped back and forth between AP and CMofS. She prefers AP.

Audra Harders said...

Oh, and I completely agree about not eating Ruthy. We need her to COOK for us : )

So I smell Snickerdoodles???

The Grammar Queen said...

AUDRA, my dear! I am delighted by your interest in the comma. You have certainly covered the most important rules to keep in mind. So very, very proud of you!

Naomi Rawlings said...

I also just want to randomly say that I have so much trouble with this rule: A comma is not necessary between two short and closely connected independent clauses, especially if the connective is and?

I grew up in the day where compound sentences always had a comma before the conjunction. It's so hard for me to change!

Myra Johnson said...

Great post, Audra! Glad to see you got GQ's nod of approval--LOL!

I do tend to omit the comma after short introductory phrases. No reason for the extra clutter--unless it's needed for clarity.

A guideline that helps me with whether you need a comma with a series of adjectives is if the sentence still makes sense if you can use "and" between the adjectives instead of a comma. If so, use the comma.

Audra Harders said...

I'm with you, Cindy! It's a lot like new math. I tend to stay away from that, too : )

Or would I say: that too??

Myra Johnson said...

I remember a few years ago someone trying to explain to me why sometimes you do need a comma before "too" and other times it's incorrect. I never, ever, ever understood the difference.

CatMom said...

Very informative post, Audra - - thank you!
One of my sons-in-law is a high school English teacher, so of course he has that funny t-shirt that reads: Commas save lives (with the examples of: Let's eat Grandma AND Let's eat, Grandma). We always get a laugh out of that!
Hugs, Patti Jo
p.s. Well, I just scrolled back and saw that Chill N had already mentioned this funny example - - guess I'm late as usual, LOL!!

Elaine Manders said...

Those restrictive and non-restrictive clauses kill me. I say if you don't need to pause in your reading, it doesn't need a comma. But everyone needs a job, even grammar rule makers.

Thanks Audra, for going to all that trouble to keep us straight. I'd love a chance to win your book.

Crystal Ridgway said...

Great post, Audra! (I'm fairly certain that comma belongs there).
I can't imagine having to sit through two hours of a class strictly on commas. You should probably treat yourself to some chocolate as a prize for surviving! Please toss my name in the hat for the first two giveaways, because as much as I'd like to read second chance ranch, I don't have an ereader.

Audra Harders said...

LOL, Nancy. No, I haven't seen that one, but I giggle over the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

Audra Harders said...

Jeanne, I don't think I'll ever get it right. I just wanted everyone to be aware that writing style changes...who knows why...but it does.

I guess they just want to keep us on our toes : )

Audra Harders said...

Oh Jennifer, you are not strange, just well informed : ) Hey, my son gets all kinds of excited when he discovers a new math program!!

Audra Harders said...

Ooops, Pam! Did I just divulge Seeker secrets?? Yikes!!

Annie Rains said...

Comma rules!! Just what I've been needing. This actually was an exciting post for me. I nearly cheered when I saw the title.

Thank you so much! I'll have to keep referencing this post. And if I don't win the grammar manual you're giving away, I'll have to go straight to Amazon and get me one :)

Congrats on your first independent release!

Pam Hillman said...

Patti Jo, I think the grandma one is the one we all remember! lol

Audra Harders said...

Carol, I do believe I was in a coma by the end of the class, LOL! Glad you picked up your book! I'm getting the third book of the series all spruced up for fall. WooHoo!!

Audra Harders said...

Debby, so you understood all that stuff in highlight? Bless your heart. I have to refer to the examples to figure out what they're talking about, LOL!

This brush up class was required because the county revised their Style Manual. Why they thought they needed an upgrade is beyond me. So, I'm sitting in this class filled with grant writers and forestry recorders and listening to technical spiel until my eyes crossed.

What I've posted today reflects the info I could somewhat understand.

Glad we don't have to include Latin rootwordss in our books!!

Audra Harders said...

DebH, considered yourself tossed into the Stetson, LOL! Yes, blatant self-promo here in Seekerville!

You'll love Zac and Jennifer's story. High school love; secrets; reunion -- what more can you want??

Fly your fingers over to Amazon and hover over the BUY button...

Audra Harders said...

Naomi, what a hoot. I love your passion over punctuation!

LOL. That's going to keep me giggling all day : )

Audra Harders said...

Connie Queen, I hear you. I think there should be rules established for punctuation depending on the usage.

For fiction, I love the comma at ever natural stop rule. I don't think you can go wrong with it. Some of the technical writing that was discussed soared so far over my head, I got a crik in my neck : )

Jana Vanderslice said...

Thank You, Audra! I've always written APA style, and fiction is a whole new ball game.

Audra, is your book available for Nook? I can’t find it. I may just download the Kindle app. I'm missing out on too many great books.

And to make you SMILE... :)
We had a cow named Comma Momma!!! Seriously!! I put her pic as my profile pic. Can you see the marking on her forehead that looks like a comma?
:) :)

Julie Lessman said...

To our parents, Mother Teresa and God.

LOL ... LOVE THIS!!! Although God IS our father, I don't think I look a thing like Mother Teresa ... ;)

Commas are such fun little animals, Auds, so I alway enjoying reading about them, believe it or not!

You got me on the "Sandra wants to replace her old ratty pickleball racket," sentence, girl. Yes, I would have put a comma after old, but then I AM old, so that's probably why. ;)

Hugs!!
Julie

Myra Johnson said...

Actually, JULIE, I'm with you on "her old, ratty pickleball racket."

On the other hand, if the phrase was "her ratty old pickleball racket," I would NOT use a comma.

Natalie Monk said...

Wonderful post! Commas give me indigestion. I'm sure my lovely crit partners get tired of my comma mistakes, and looks like I've been noting their commas as incorrect where they were perfectly fine. Woops!! But you've helped immensely, Audra!!! Thanks for these invaluable grammar tips!!

Mary Connealy said...

I'm a GED Instructor and our workbooks have a chapter called Optional Commas. I usually begin quietly weeping at that point.

MAKE A RULE AND LIVE WITH IT, PEOPLE!

Mary Connealy said...

This was fun.

Before eating, Ruthy explained the ingredients in her famous Snickerdoodles.

Before eating Ruthy<<>>> explained the ingredients in her famous Snickerdoodles

Mary Connealy said...

I actually read every word of this, Audra. I am always hoping to learn punctuation better.


:( I have a comma addiction for which there is NO TWELVE STEP PROGRAM GOOD ENOUGH!!!

Mary Connealy said...

ROSE what you said about 'times change grammar'...that just isn't fair. I think English is a cruel subject in school.

I mean c'mon, do they decide 2 + 2 = 7??? Ever???
I know Math has it's own set of problems but at least Math has rules that are ETERNAL!!!

Except when they're not, I suppose! :(

Mary Connealy said...

RUTHY, I worked on a newspaper for a while and I remember the editor saying, "Semi-colons are fairly antiquated."

I've always remembered that one little phrase. I don't know if that was her opinion or some Chicago Manual of Style rule, but the poor kicked-to-the-curb semi-colon has apparently fallen from favor. And it's such a CUTE little symbol.

It does still WINK ;) Right? So they won't erase it from the qwerty keyboard anytime soon.

Mary Connealy said...

This reminds me of Eats Shoots and Leaves
Remember that book?
As opposed to Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

One is what a panda bear eats, the other is a crime scene.

bonton said...

Hi, Audra!

Enjoyed your post, although I don't know if I can remember all those "do's and don'ts".

I don't write books, but use commas liberally in my comments and e-mails. It is painful using no more commas than I am in these comments (LOL). I had to reword sentences to avoid them.

As with Julie, I would have used more commas in the sentence she mentioned. However, I would probably have used TWO more!

Do you have posts on hyphens, quotation, double exclamation and question marks? I'm obsessed in those areas also. Guess I was born with too much of that passion Julie has (LOL)!

Please enter me in the drawing for YOUR book. Thanks!

bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com



bonton said...

Hi, Audra!

Enjoyed your post, although I don't know if I can remember all those "do's and don'ts".

I don't write books, but use commas liberally in my comments and e-mails. It is painful using no more commas than I am in these comments (LOL). I had to reword sentences to avoid them.

As with Julie, I would have used more commas in the sentence she mentioned. However, I would probably have used TWO more!

Do you have posts on hyphens, quotation, double exclamation and question marks? I'm obsessed in those areas also. Guess I was born with too much of that passion Julie has (LOL)!

Please enter me in the drawing for YOUR book. Thanks!

bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com



Audra Harders said...

Ah, Grammar Queen! I live to make you proud : )

So glad you slipped Seekerville into your busy day. Maybe you answer the all important question...why do rules change??

Crystal Ridgway said...

Had to smile over Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. What a confluzzling world this would be without commas! Speaking of... I hope I put them in the right place in the first post on my blog: crystal-ridgway.blogspot.com
(Maybe in time I'll get the hang of the blogging business)

Audra Harders said...

Myra, that's exactly what the instructor said. If you can insert "and" in place of the comma and still makes sense, then insert the comma.

Now that rule made sense. To tell you the truth, I still don't understand why they removed the comma before "too?"

Audra Harders said...

Patti Jo, your shining face is welcome here anytime, whether you bring original comments or not, LOL!

Besides, I love let's eat grandma.

Audra Harders said...

Elaine, I've the camp that says why mess with a good thing? But then you're right, everyone needs a job : )

Your name is tossed in : )

Audra Harders said...

Crystal, I do believe you said it all in one little word...

Chocolate!!

Hmmm, maybe I should give some chocolate away today since you guys were kind enough to READ this post. : )

Audra Harders said...

Well, so happy to ablige, Annie! Wow, someone who WANTED to hear about my comma adventure.

You are too sweet!!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

How fun! I actually love grammar. As a linguistics major I focused on theory, but of course we had to have two years of 400 level grammar courses.
I'm attached to my Oxford commas in my Austen Takes the South books (Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits) and I was thrilled when Simon & Schuster left them in on the Kindle covers.
BUT I recently got a little note that said they'd decided to take it back out and when the paper releases in a few months, it won't be there!
I'm going to have a happy release day party and a pity party over my Oxford comma. WHAAAA.

Happy self publishing! I didn't know you'd taken the plunge! Popping on over to grab your book and support the indies!

The Grammar Queen said...

There will always, always, always be a place for the revered semicolon, my dears.

As for why grammar rules change, language has continued to evolve over the centuries, and so punctuation, etc., has adapted right along with it.

However, let us hope good grammar always prevails!

GRAMMAR AFICIONADOS UNITE!!!

The Grammar Queen said...

VIRGINIA, dearest, you have my deepest sympathies about the departure of your Oxford comma. I, too, will continue to use it without hesitation or remorse.

Audra Harders said...

Jana! I love Comma Momma! I love cows in general, but she's going to hold a special place in my heart : )

Yes, please download the Kindle app for just about any device. The Seekers have some awesome books available on Kindle exclusively.

I chose to publish through Kindle solely only because I barely have time to write, much less manage multiple outlets. If I could retire from Extension, well, I suppose my world would change, LOL. But I don't see that in my near future : )

Comma Momma. What a hoot!

Chill N said...

The Grammar Queen said...
VIRGINIA, dearest, you have my deepest sympathies about the departure of your Oxford comma. I, too, will continue to use it without hesitation or remorse.

We Oxford comma users are universally acknowledged as more witty, intelligent, and gorgeous ;-)

Nancy C

Audra Harders said...

Julie honey, no one could ever confuse you with Mother Teresa! Well, maybe in the good work department...but I don't think MT ever donned any RED article of clothing, LOL!!

And sweetie, you could run circles around me. Let's sit and enjoy a cup of coffee instead, okay??

Audra Harders said...

Myra, I agree with you and Julie.

Audra Harders said...

Natalie, no need to develope another groove in the brain over this. I have a feeling we're all going to keep dropping commas in wherever we want to.

Besides, I completely agree with Naomi. When we follow the rules for fiction writing, we have to keep in mind what the audience expects. A sentence spanning 3 lines might not technically need a comma, but my eyes would sure like to see one, LOL!!

Audra Harders said...

Mary, I wish I would've known your regard for punctuation. I would've invited you to join me on the 7 hour grammar marathon -- well actually, it was cut up over 3 days. You would've been in heaven : )

I did learn quite a bit though. I passed Passive vs Active sentences with flying colors : )

Maybe we should invite Grammar Queen to hold a Night Class on the changing face of writing style. I'd attend : )

Audra Harders said...

Oh, and not fear. Alice (our instructor) made no mention of the extinction of the semi colon. As a matter of fact, she offered many suggestions for their replacement of commas.

But, for those in love with the hyphen, she all but killed the innocent little spacer...

I think I teared up -- just a little : )

Audra Harders said...

Bonnie, please don't ask for posts on all those other pesky little punctuation marks! After the past couple of weeks, I'm well armed with information, LOL!!!

I'm looking for a quick reference style guide. When I find one, I'll post it!!

Got you in the drawing!

Julie Lessman said...

PAMMY SAID: "I found out that Julie and Mary are party girls, Tina and Glynna are not, and that Mother Teresa is my mother!"

LOL ... you never know what you'll find in the comments, that's for darn sure.


Thanks, Myra ... I feel better knowing I have the Grammar Queen on my side. :)

AUDRA SAID: "Julie honey, no one could ever confuse you with Mother Teresa!"

LOL ... SO true!! ;)

BONNIE SAID: "Do you have posts on hyphens, quotation, double exclamation and question marks? I'm obsessed in those areas also. Guess I was born with too much of that passion Julie has (LOL)!"

Oh, Bonnie, you poor thing!! So THAT'S why we get along so well, eh? ;) And you will LOVE Audra's book, my friend, and Audra, too, for that matter. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Cara Lynn James said...

Audra, I'm keeping this. I'm really bad at commas.

Audra Harders said...

Hey Virginia! Thanks for the support in the indie world. It's nothing but exciting and I love it : )

I'm showing proper respect and condolences for your Oxford comma. PP&CG will never be the same again.
But pity parties only last 24 hours, right? Let's celebrate the paperback release!! YAYAYAY!!

Audra Harders said...

Grammar Queen, thanks for demystifying the question of change. You are the bestest!!

Audra Harders said...

Cara, I'm right there with you! Maybe I'll just let my editor massage my commas around, LOL!

Audra Harders said...

Julie, my friend, you help make this whole writing journey is a blast : )

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Audra, you deserve a raise for sitting through that long of a class on commas :)

Tanya Agler said...

Audra, I liked your post. I like reading blogs about craft and the English language. Commas and punctuation are important tools in learning how to write, and I appreciate the lesson and mini-refresher course.

Please enter me in the drawings for the last two. I keep my paperback copy of The Elements of Style at my desk.

Have a great day.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Audra, I'm coming late but oh do I need this post. I am printing it out. My biggest number of fixes from my editor are commas. ha ha

Thanks girlfriend.

Mary Preston said...

I know I put commas in all the wrong places. Good thing I'm not a writer.

Shanda said...

Reading your title had me immediately thinking of the war on the Oxford comma, a comma that, judging by people's proclivity for throwing it away, may eventually make for interesting sentences. Like having Mother Theresa and God for parents. Great example, BTW.

I really enjoy funny punctuation mishaps. I like the following example of how punctuation makes a big difference.

Punctuate this to your tastes:
Woman without her man is nothing.
:)

Shanda said...

I also have Strunk and White--and its parody. And I have Eats, Shoots & Leaves and its sinister sibling. The two parodies were gifts. :)

Olivia said...

Another printable article for my weiter's notebook! Thanks Audra.
As the queen of complex sentences
rife with appositives, compound complex sentences, dependent clauses, and the occasional passive voice; I will use this info. Please put my name in the drawing.

S. Trietsch said...

I'd love any of the fun prizes offered today!

Thanks for comma use in a series example! Those drive me crazy!!

Stephanie

Missy Tippens said...

Audra, I LOVED this refresher!! I found I'm doing some things wrong. :( Just when I think I have it figured out.

Also, I'm sorry I didn't get my yesterday! I was gone literally all day.

Ginny Jaques said...

Au contraire. I found this post very entertaining. Like Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Thanks for the chuckles.

Lisa Potocar said...

Fun post, Audra! Thanks for setting us on the right track. I already have your Second Chance Ranch and Strunk & White, so please feel free to draw an alternate if I turn up the winner. So sweet of you to offer, though.