From time-to-time, I review FirstCameBlue posts with a critical eye. The exercise is much like reviewing a brief for errors after submission–painful. This weekend, while laboring away on the elliptical machine at the gym, I had the opportunity to review posts from the past few weeks. After reading a several posts, I noticed a grimace worthy trend in my writing: the misuse of the comma.
To be sure, like any writer, I have my favorite punctuation. In no specific order, the versatile em dash, the ubiquitous comma, and the separating semicolon round out my top three. And it shows in my writing.
Comma usage is necessary for clear written communication. Just ask a grammar school student the difference between, “Let’s eat Mom!” and “Let’s eat, Mom!” But it is precisely because the comma may properly be used frequently that it is oftentimes used without cause, rather than used with a clause.
Without boring readers with details of comma splices, the serial comma, restrictive and non-restrictive appositive phrases, dependent clauses, and introductory adverbs, know that, going forward, I pledge to suppress my inner comma-kaze.