My name is Mark and I have a problem. I abuse commas and I abuse them in nearly every post on Dumb Little Man, in emails at work and in correspondence to my customers.
There. I feel better.
Remarkably, the comma abuse was so bad that a co-worker of mine actually sent me a handful of tips on comma usage. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2002 and she is, among other things, our team's proofreader. She has grammar and wording pegged to a tee.
Here is her advice and I marked the things I would have gotten wrong:
- Use a comma after phrases of more than three words that begin a sentence.
- Correct Example: To get a gold medal, you must dedicate yourself to a training routine.
- Use a comma after the date and year if they are used together. If its only the month and year, no comma is needed.
- Correct Example: I was born on January 1, 1973, the same day the new year begins.
- No comma is needed to separate nouns or noun clauses in a compound subject.
- Incorrect Example (no comma needed): The music teacher from your high school, and the football coach from mine are married.
- The Pause: Just because you are pausing in your thoughts while typing doesn't mean that the reader is pausing in their reading!
- Combining Sentences: Do not use a comma to simply join 2 complete sentences. Use a conjunction (remember Conjunction Junction?)
- Incorrect Example: The Chicago Cubs are going to lose tomorrow, they really have bad pitching.
- Correct Example: The Chicago Cubs are going to lose tomorrow because they really have bad pitching.