|The punctuation mark comma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Case of the Serial Comma. Like the serial killers, we need to track down pesky serial (not cereal)commas.
- Items in a series are separated by commas: I won the Pulitzer Prize, the Book Circle Award, and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
- ATTENTION MLA Afficiandos who want to be writers. CMS states the Oxford comma (that’s the one before the conjunction) must be used. Sigh. What good was it learning MLA during my years of teaching English?
- Not sure about the commas? Stick an and between the elements, and voilà, no commas necessary.
- Ex. I didn’t win the Genesis Contest or the Novel Rocket Contest or the RWA Contest. What do they know? (see my first item.)
- Still not sure? Make the phrases very complicated, and with lots of clauses. Then you separate them by semicolons.
- Ex. I didn’t final in the Genesis, the premiere writing contest; Novel Rocket hasn't been entered, but plan on it; and I don’t care for pure romance, so RWA isn’t an option
- In a coma yet? One more. Etc. is set off by commas when it’s the final word in a series.
- Ex. I like dark chocolate, milk chocolate, etc., every day.
So, before I totally knock you over with my whiz-bang knowledge of commas, Tell me what some of your bugaboos, problems, questions, etc., may be, and we’ll look for answers. A test will follow!