Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Great Comma Debate

No one agrees on comma usage. Look it up. All of the grammar sites have differing opinions. The style books (AP Style and Chicago) don't agree. Struck and White has its own rules about commas. And then you have the "grammar police" (as I call them) who think they KNOW your comma usage is wrong -- it doesn't work with their rules. I have different authors who have differing uses. It's like this discussion that can't be won. I will say this: I cannot stand the grammar police who insist your usage is just plain wrong. If you followed AP Style and they use, say, Struck and White, yep! It's wrong. Yet it's not wrong. When it comes to commas, I allow the authors to use their preferred styles. The only rule I apply is consistency. Do it that way; always do it that way, period. Now some comma usage is, in fact, just plain wrong. You know like splitting the adjective from the noun or the noun from the verb -- that sort of thing.

My favorite (and funny) rule of overall editing: If it's wrong yesterday it's still wrong today. In other words when you're editing and you think, "Hmm ... maybe that is wrong," and you leave it. Guess what? It's still wrong on the second pass -- that is, unless you change (finally) it. And that's a little humor for you. Now go have a super fantastic day.

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