Monday, December 17, 2007

Too Many Commas

I have been criticized by my friends and family, in the past, for my over use of punctuation and the misuse of English grammar. Commas and semicolons are a particular issue!

My thought is I’ve been doing this all my life – why change now?

Yesterday I found a treasure, while attempting to find some herbal supplements in my hold baggage in the garage.

It was a gift that was given to me by my Company Commander in 1968. He had blackmailed me into attending a course that he was teaching for the University of Maryland extension school at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia. He said “Attend the course or get 60 hours of extra duty.” The choice was a no-brainer; I signed up for this class. The Army was paying for it; I had to pay for the books.

After I wrote my first paper for his class on US Government, I was given this gift by my CO and teacher (he told me that I desperately needed it). It was a paperback copy of a book by Richard J. Mallery titled “Grammar, Rhetoric and Composition (for Home Study). Sold by Barnes & Noble for $1.75 in 1968; truly a bargain.

I have kept this gift for nearly forty years and had used it profusely while attending college classes under the GI Bill during the 1970’s.

To punctuate or not to punctuate, that is the question!

According to Mallery, who was an Associate Professor of English at New York University at this time. These are the following rules for punctuation:

The Period “is a full stop that indicates the completion of a thought.” And, as we all know, a paragraph is a sentence or a group of sentences expressing and developing a complete thought.

The Comma “indicates a very short pause”. The comma “is used in a compound sentence to separate clauses which are joined by a coordinating conjunction” The comma” is used to set off an introductory modifier.” The comma “is used to separate items in a series of 3 or more items.” And finally, the comma “is used to set off non-restricted modifiers.”

I view the comma as a caesura in the conversation with a friend. I always write as if I were speaking to a friend.

The semicolon is a whole different story. It represents a longer pause than the comma. The semi-colon is also used to separate two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. The big warning here is not to use the semi-colon between an independent clause and a dependent clause.

Hopefully I will use this old book to improve my writing skills. More than likely, I won’t and will still make the same grammatical errors that I have been making for all my life.

The Beach Bum



Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOUR WRITING IS FINE FOR US COMMON FOLK.,? You get message across and have a word with ways.Keep up the good work.

Mon Dec 17, 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's come; to this, to use or not to use, a comma, period, semi colon, colon, and grammatically improve your writing skills.
Me thinks they be fine, just the way they are. Just remember to use yer spellchecky thing to get the word correct!

Tue Dec 18, 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Roxie said...

Your writing is excellent. Now me, I leave out words here and there, over use commas and in general leave readers reaching for another beer in hopes it will make more sense with more beer.

Tue Dec 18, 09:03:00 PM  
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