Tuesday, November 19, 2013

To Comma or Not To Comma...That Is the Question

It seems that the rules for proper use of commas always seem to be changing. I learned back in the 60's where and when to place commas in my sentences. Since then the 'rules' keep fluctuating. So I got the thinking, who makes up these rules and if they are rules why do they keep changing?

The serial comma is a good example. I was taught not to place a comma before the and in a series such as red, white and blue. Others were taught to put one in. In college, a million years ago I was marked down because I didn't put one in. This illustrates the problem with 'rules' in some instances in punctuation. There are varying schools of thought as to when the comma is to be used.

There isn't even consensus amongst the supposed arbitrators of proper punctuation. Oxford University Press indicates you should place one but the Associated Press does not. So who do you believe? What way were you taught? Are you writing in England or the USA?

The criticism authors get from editors and readers may or may not be valid depending on what you were taught. Is either way truly wrong? Does it really matter if the meaning of the sentence is clear?

I am going to continue to use, not only serial commas but commas in general as I was taught way back in the 1960's. I'm going to be consistent, or at least as I can be, with their use. I am not going to worry about someone else's method of where I should or should not place commas. If the universities and press can't agree on what the rule should be in my humble opinion it's not a very good rule.
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