March 21, 2007

Comma Sandwiches

The first rule of bracketing commas is that you use them to mark both ends of a "weak interruption" to a sentence - or a piece of "additional information". The commas mark the places where the reader can - as it were - place an elegant two-pronged fork and cleanly lift out a section of the sentence, leaving no obvious damage to the whole.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (90)

I'll be the first to admit it; I'm a fan of bracketing commas. Of course, now that I really want to demonstrate this love, I can't seem to write a sentence incorporating their use. Oh wait. . . . I think that was even correct usage of those troublesome bracketing commas.
I am one of those English students that looks up comma usage. I'm terrified of the implications of my ungrammatical writing. I don't have a single memory of my senior English teacher that doesn't incorporate the comma. She was a maniac when it came to catching a comma splice. Hopefully this fervor has added to my punctuation abilities, but I have my doubts. (For example, was that sentence done properly? Was that question?)
Maybe my severe reaction to this chapter is a result of it hitting closer to home than I'd anticipated it would. I can't remember how many papers I've gotten back from professors marked up largely because of my comma usage, though, to be fair, my semicolon obsession is equally commented on.
I don't like admitting my faults; who does? (Oh semicolon, are you correctly placed?) I will say one thing about this particular chapter: every comma put in this short entry sent shivers up my spine. (Oh how close I was to using a comma in that sentence rather than a colon!)

Posted by Diana Geleskie at March 21, 2007 10:30 AM
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