What Do Commas Do?
I have been receiving quite a few questions about the basic purpose of the comma. For example, one Twitter follower asked simply, “Can you explain what commas are for?”
Twitter isn’t really the place for lengthy discussions, so I responded “Commas are used to separate meaningful units in sentences.” Here’s a more lengthy response about the value of commas and how they are used, taken from the introductory sections of Zen Comma.
Commas are confusing
The final stage of the writing process is proofreading: correcting any errors in spelling, punctuation, word usage, and format. Roughly 75% of what I do while proofreading clients’ documents is correct commas.
When I teach community writing courses at the university, I ask the students, “What’s the number one thing that confuses you about punctuation and grammar?” In every class, someone says “Commas,” and about half of the students nod in agreement.
Commas confuse most people. Unlike other types of punctuation, they are used in so many ways. The purpose of this book is to show you how to use them correctly.
If you want to write clearly and professionally, you need to use commas correctly. Continue reading