Friday, September 14, 2012

Grammar Corner: A couple of commas

In the past I have been called, quite appropriately, a genuine Comma Queen. It is not a title of honor.  As a Comma Queen, I was under the impression for a very long time that you always, no exceptions, had to put a comma before or after the adverb 'too.'  (Don't worry, I wasn't putting commas around 'too' when used as an adjective.)  When using 'too' as an adverb, it turns out that obsessive comma use is up to the author.  According to Grammar Girl:

The word “too” is an adverb that indicates “also” or “in addition.” It most often shows up in the middle or at the end of a sentence. Most of the time you probably won't use a comma with “too” because your sentences will be chugging along without needing a pause. So you could say, “I too like reading mysteries” or “I like reading mysteries too.” If, on the other hand, you want to emphasize an abrupt change of thought (1), you do use commas, which, among other things, are used to indicate pauses: “I, too, like reading mysteries” or “I like reading mysteries, too.” In these sentences, you are adding a pause to create emphasis.
On a similar note, commas after 'of course' are optional depending on what you want to convey.  However, you should use commas before 'of course' pretty much every single time.  "It's only natural, of course." Times to use a comma after 'of course' include when using it as an aside or to draw extra attention to it.  The comma draws a natural pause and can create drama, unexpected tension, etc.  "Of course, the only way back is by going forward."  If you remove the comma then it becomes a statement of obvious exasperation.  "Of course the only way out is by going forward!"  Look over your 'of course' sentences and if a mental 'duh' would make sense at the end, then you probably don't need a comma.

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

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