Posted by: nancycurteman | September 17, 2019

Commas Make Me Crazy

Bookmark and Share

As a mystery writer, one of my major frustrations relates to commas. Commas make me crazy. Apparently I’m not the only one who suffers from this problem.

To quote Oscar Wilde venting his frustration with commas:“I spent all morning taking out a comma and all afternoon putting it back.”

I share his pain—To comma or not to comma, that is the question. In an effort to find the answer, I researched rules for using commas. I found sets containing from 4 to 13 rules. I decided to select the rules I considered to be most useful to me as a writer. Here they are:

Use a comma

  • before a coordinating conjunction (and,but,for,or,nor,so) that links two independent clauses.

Example: The light turned red, so he crossed the street.

  • after an introductory clause or phrase that starts a sentence.

Example: When Mary got permission to go, she raced to the door.

  • to offset appositives.

Example: John, lead singer, stepped to the mic.

  • to separate items or phrases in a series.

Example: We bought robes, socks, slippers, and pajamas.

Mary promised to clean her room, take out the garbage, and feed the dog.

  • to enclose clauses not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

Example: Jerry, who tends to pout, will be at the party.

  • to indicate direct address

Example: “You got that right,” Homer.

  • to set off direct quotations.

Example: “I like funny movies,” Sally said, “because they make me laugh.”

Yes, there are other comma rules such as those used in dates, addresses, titles and numbers, but these are pretty obvious. Most of us learned about them in primary grades. My list of comma rules are the ones I use the most, and at the same time, the ones that make me crazy.


More Tips:

Writing Craft Rules: Never Say Never
5 Elements of Writing Craft
7 Ways to Make Your Writing Clear and Concise
6 Most Misused Punctuation Marks In Fiction Writing


  1. These are all rules I taught (an still use) when I taught 4th and 5th grades. What drives me crazy today is people who use no periods or capitals in their comments on Facebook. I literally want to scream when I read them. It makes what they say a run on sentence, to say the least. It also makes me read and reread their posting to try to make sense of it.


    • Hi Maureen, I also taught grades 4 and 5. Nice to know you were a teacher. What makes me crazy, among other things, is hearing people use a subject pronoun as the object of a preposition. Example: “He sang it to Molly and I.” Once a teacher always a teacher.


  2. Your posts are so informative. I’very reblogged this on Thanks for the post. 😊


    • I’m glad you find my posts helpful. I plan to put the posts in a book soon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: