Commas. They’re a problem. It can be difficult to remember where commas should be and, more importantly, where they shouldn’t be in a sentence. New writers often hear the suggestion to put a comma wherever feels natural. Stephen King even recently tweeted, “If you hear a pause in your head, the comma goes in (see what I did there?). If you don’t you don’t.” While that can work at times, it is also dangerous advice for people seeking to be published. Misusing commas can be a sign of other problems within a manuscript.
Like any other writing rule, it’s important to know it before you break it. There are several rules that dictate where commas belong. Sometimes those rules change based on the style book, such as the hotly debated Oxford comma. Commas also belong with introductory or interjectory phrases, where you omit other words, or inside quotation marks when you have a dialogue tag.
We break down what all of those mean in this episode, as well as in our next episode about phrases.
First aired November 15, 2021.