24 March 2011

Comma Confusion part 1

Another post in the “this is a football”/ “respect your editor” line of thought:

Comma’s- tricky, squiggly little tadpole-ish things. I know I use them wrong much of the time.
One of the biggest mistakes is making a “comma splice”.
I never heard that phrase until my third child came home from college a few months ago saying she had a problem with comma splicing. The best explanation I’ve found is at http://rebekahstories.blogspot.com/2011/03/comma-cheat-sheet.html. BIG thank you to Bekah!

Bekah said:

First, you have to know if you are working with an Independent Clause or Dependent Clause.

An Independent Clause has subject and verb and CAN stand by itself. Like so-
 He ran. She ran across the street. They dodged the giant, people-eating tulip.

A Dependent Clause CAN NOT stand alone.
Over the river. Down the way. Because of the storm. Which is why the tulip found him delicious.

These don't really make sense all by their lonesome. A Dependent Clause needs an Independent Clause to lean on.

Comma cheat sheet time! The rules:

A NO! NO! Comma Splice... Independent Clause,(comma) Independent Clause.

I fell into the hole, the plant gnawed my leg.

The proper way is to use a Semicolon or Conjunction ....
Independent Clause; (semicolon) Independent Clause.
OR Independent Clause, (coord conjunction) Independent Clause.
OR of course  IndepC. (period) IndepC.

Its teeth were sharp; I felt pain racing up my body with every nibble.
(I'm randomly making this up right now, okay?)

Independent Clause (coord. conjuc) Dependent Clause (no comma)

The wolf scratched at the window and tore through the screen.

Dependent Clause,(comma) Independent Clause.

Many dependent clauses start with a subordinating conjunction. When, After, Although, If, Before, Even if, so...

When the tulip got him, he thought he was going to die in the lonely flower patch.

As the wolf entered the house, he sniffed the air.

If you flip them... no comma Independent Clause Dependent Clause

He thought he was going to die in the lonely flower patch when the tulip got him.