Commonly Confused Commas


Writers of all ages struggle with proper comma usage. As a writer myself, I agree that plot, characters, and word choice are infinitely more important than grammar. But if those elements form the layers of a cake, grammar forms the frosting.

unnamed-5Consider for a moment that your manuscript has all those qualities and more, but commas are placed without rhyme or reason. Will publishers be inclined to interpret and decode your submission? If your work is especially compelling, perhaps. But in most cases, no. So crack your knuckles and roll up your sleeves. Let’s review ten useful comma rules using examples from some of my favorite books.

RULE #1:

Coordinating conjunctions are the FANBOYS of grammar: FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR, YET, and SO. When they connect two complete sentences (independent clauses) into a single sentence, insert a comma before the FANBOYS.


From Holes, by Louis Sachar (p.95): It had been three days since the laundry was…

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