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Maryn
02-12-2006, 02:44 AM
My critique group, which includes other grammar people besides me, has 'battled' more than once over whether a comma is necessary after the word yes or no in certain uses.

We agree that it belongs in sentences like these:
"Yes, you did tell me you were running late."
"No, you never mentioned you were running late."

We disagree on whether it belongs in sentences like these--in dialogue, if that affects your answer/opinion:
"You're late."
"I told you I was running late."
"No[,] you didn't."
"Yes[,] I did."
"No[,] you didn't!"
"Yes[,] I did!"
"Did too!"
"Did not!"

The include-a-comma camp (a pleasant group with a liking for tea in bone china cups and white gloves) reasons that how the sentence is delivered should not and does not affect whether the comma belongs there.

The no comma crowd (a rowdy bunch with many piercings and a disregard for rules) says that if the speaker would not pause even slightly, the addition of the comma changes the delivery, if not the meaning.

What do you think?

Maryn, who runs with the wrong crowd

MacAllister
02-12-2006, 02:46 AM
Comma, si.

I love commas.

In fact, I think we should use many more commas than we already do. Feral colonies of stray commas should be coaxed into our manuscripts, and encouraged to breed.

I do that on a regular basis, and find it works well. My crit group always has something to strike through and write DELETE on, over and over and over.

KAP
02-12-2006, 03:01 AM
The pierced rowdies sound like a fun crowd, but I vote with the tea sippers and MacAllister on this one. Comma, si.

But if I see colonies of commas breeding in my ms, I stomp out the young lest they grow up to be semicolons. *shudder*

reph
02-12-2006, 06:50 AM
I'm with the bone-china and white-gloves crowd on the comma question, though not on questions of fashion.

And before anyone asks, here's another thing about commas. If you write a note or an e-mail and substitute "Hi" or "Hello" for a more traditional salutation, do it like this:

Hi, Maryn.

or

Hello, Maryn.

That comma suffers from neglect these days. I don't know why.

Shwebb
02-12-2006, 07:25 AM
Sorry, I tried wearing the white gloves, but they get dirty so easily . . .

Shouldn't there be a comma in the sentence, "Did, too!"

dragonjax
02-12-2006, 08:51 AM
The no comma crowd (a rowdy bunch with many piercings and a disregard for rules) says that if the speaker would not pause even slightly, the addition of the comma changes the delivery, if not the meaning.

What do you think?

Chalk one up for the rowdy rebels, Maryn. The comma's purpose, above all, is to provide clarity to the reader -- to give the reader a visual cue to pause before continuing. When you're using a comma in dialogue, it's sole purpose (in my humble opinion, of course) is to tell the reader when the speaker pauses.

katee
02-13-2006, 10:14 AM
The include-a-comma camp (a pleasant group with a liking for tea in bone china cups and white gloves) reasons that how the sentence is delivered should not and does not affect whether the comma belongs there.

The no comma crowd (a rowdy bunch with many piercings and a disregard for rules) says that if the speaker would not pause even slightly, the addition of the comma changes the delivery, if not the meaning.

What do you think?
I'm not too sure what crowd I belong too - I suspect I twiddle my piercings with my gloved hands - but my gut feel (always a worry) is to put a comma in if the speaker pauses.

I don't think the pause changes the meaning, just the delivery.

But I could be convinced otherwise. You've now got me sitting here muttering to myself ("No, I don't" "NoIdon't" "No I don't"). Lucky my work colleagues have gone home for the day...

kybudman
02-14-2006, 05:36 AM
My editor swears that I write pages, then stand back and hurl buckets of commas at them!

I am a writer. I am also a public speaker, with many more years of public speaking experience than writing experience.

(Follow along for just a moment, please!)

As a public speaker, the comma is extremely valuable to me as a speaking tool. It also is my primary BREATHING tool. I admit this openly, and publicly before you even now.

What I am learning, however, is that the comma can create an unnecessary lapse in the flow of reading. The argument comes to the bar as to whether or not the brain automatically picks up on the "implied" comma. In a sentence such as this, for instance, the comma requires hesitation. Yet, the required hesitiation is a substance for the writer, according to his/her speech patterns. Forcing a reader into your speaking habits can be a very dangerous thing.

The theory is that the brain of the reader will automatically insert into the reading those commas, or pauses, that the reader would naturally use as a matter of their own speaking patterns. This, according to the theory at least, privatizes the reading in a comfortable manner for the reader--even in those cases where it is inappropriate to do so. Incorrect grammer on the part of the writer is one thing. But, many readers think and read in incorrect grammer. And, to honor the erstwhile perambulations of my editor, the reader is the final judge.

It's just an interesting theory that I think may be worth some discussion. Regardless, I know that I have allowed colonies to thrive where the land would best be left barren. It is, as am I, a work in progress.

Sharon Mock
02-14-2006, 07:09 AM
Hmm. I find myself squarely in the middle. (I'll have my tea in a nice big mug, thanks.)

Personally, I'd use the commas. But I don't think dropping the commas is wrong, just a question of style.

Of course, I still don't understand the unreasonable bias against the semicolon...

JenNipps
02-14-2006, 08:12 AM
Comma, si. I don't know how or why people started thinking commas are optional in cases like that and in cases of when someone is addressing another person by name.

pianoman5
02-14-2006, 11:19 AM
I'll assume a (padded) seat on the fence.

As a matter of strict correctness the comma arguably belongs there, but to preserve the desired effect of a rapid-fire, conflicted exchange of dialogue, I'd leave it out.

A well-trained reader (we deserve nothing less!) will always pause for a comma, and that's clearly inappropriate in this example.

Jamesaritchie
02-15-2006, 04:07 AM
The commas belong, so put them in and leave them there. A well-trained reader leaves out commas where they don't belong, and puts them in where they do belong, even if the writer screws it up.

If you want to show rapid-fire talk, forget about trying to break the comma rule. It doesn't work, it just makes most reader wonder why the writer hasn't learned grammar.

Jamesaritchie
02-15-2006, 04:13 AM
My editor swears that I write pages, then stand back and hurl buckets of commas at them!

I am a writer. I am also a public speaker, with many more years of public speaking experience than writing experience.

(Follow along for just a moment, please!)

As a public speaker, the comma is extremely valuable to me as a speaking tool. It also is my primary BREATHING tool. I admit this openly, and publicly before you even now.

What I am learning, however, is that the comma can create an unnecessary lapse in the flow of reading. The argument comes to the bar as to whether or not the brain automatically picks up on the "implied" comma. In a sentence such as this, for instance, the comma requires hesitation. Yet, the required hesitiation is a substance for the writer, according to his/her speech patterns. Forcing a reader into your speaking habits can be a very dangerous thing.

The theory is that the brain of the reader will automatically insert into the reading those commas, or pauses, that the reader would naturally use as a matter of their own speaking patterns. This, according to the theory at least, privatizes the reading in a comfortable manner for the reader--even in those cases where it is inappropriate to do so. Incorrect grammer on the part of the writer is one thing. But, many readers think and read in incorrect grammer. And, to honor the erstwhile perambulations of my editor, the reader is the final judge.

It's just an interesting theory that I think may be worth some discussion. Regardless, I know that I have allowed colonies to thrive where the land would best be left barren. It is, as am I, a work in progress.

I believe you're thinking about commas in a horrible manner. Commas certain can make for pauses, but cintrary to what many believe, this is not the prime reasoin commas are or are not used. It's a terrible mistake to think of commas as reasons for pauses, or as speech patterns.

Commas are placed in senetnces for grammatical reasons, and trying to read them as pauses, or as lack of pauses, is a horrible mistake.

Now, when you can use correct grammar in a manner that puts a pause where you want it, but this is always secondary to teh real use of a comma.

It's not about forcing readers into your speech patterns. This has zero to do with it. What you hear as pauses are not pauses in teh usualy context, such as in speech, they're pauses of separation.

It's simply a huge mistake to even think of commas as part of speeh patterns. They are not. I don't care how we differ in speech patterns, we'd darned well better agree on grammar, on what the separate parts of a sentence are, and why a comma should be placed where it is. Speech patterns and pauses are NOT the reasons commas are used in a given place.

dragonjax
02-15-2006, 04:44 AM
From Annie Get Your Gun:

"Anything you can do, I can do better."
"I can do any thing better than you."
"No you can't."
"Yes I can."
"No you can't."
"Yes I can."
"No you can't."
"Yes I can, yes I can."

Good enough for Irving Berlin, good enough for me.

Sage
02-15-2006, 08:03 AM
If we're looking at a well-trained reader, I think that the reader will put whatever speed/tone on the dialogue that they feel is appropriate, based on the context. The commas will be invisible to them in "No, you didn't," "Yes, I did." The lack of commas, however, is not invisible. They will leave an educated reader wondering if it was on purpose, if the writer messed up, if they should change the way they read the dialogue, etc. Why not stick to the grammatically correct way that won't make any difference to the reader?

pianoman5
02-15-2006, 09:09 AM
"Is this the right room for an argument?"

"Yes, it is."

I don't think there's much argument about that one.

However, Monty Python fans will also fondly recall the later exchanges, including:

Man: Look, this isn't an argument.

Mr Barnard: Yes it is.

Man: No it isn't, it's just contradiction.

Mr Barnard: No it isn't.

Man: Yes it is.

Those with good aural memories (or recordings) know exactly how this argument flows.

The fact is, the expressions "No it isn't" or "Yes it is" without commas are theoretically meaningless; but everyone knows what they mean. And with dialogue, grammatical propriety is not on the agenda - all bets are off.

I've jumped off the fence. No commas for me in those circumstances.

Sage
02-15-2006, 10:07 AM
"Is this the right room for an argument?"

"Yes, it is."

I don't think there's much argument about that one.

However, Monty Python fans will also fondly recall the later exchanges, including:

Man: Look, this isn't an argument.

Mr Barnard: Yes it is.

Man: No it isn't, it's just contradiction.

Mr Barnard: No it isn't.

Man: Yes it is.

Those with good aural memories (or recordings) know exactly how this argument flows.

The fact is, the expressions "No it isn't" or "Yes it is" without commas are theoretically meaningless; but everyone knows what they mean. And with dialogue, grammatical propriety is not on the agenda - all bets are off.

I've jumped off the fence. No commas for me in those circumstances.
I know how that argument flows because I've seen the episode. However, I don't agree that it requires no commas. I also don't agree that in dialogue, we should have the license to omit grammatically-correct commas. In dialogue, you have more license with grammar, sure. For example, you can end with a preposition. But punctuation should be correct.

Look, this isn't an argument.
Yes, it is.
No, it isn't, it's just a contradiction.
No, it isn't.
Yes, it is.

Now how hard was that to understand how they're saying it? If you needed something to clarify, what's wrong with some context.

"Look, this isn't an argument." The man's voice rose with his annoyance regarding this simple fact.
"Yes, it is."
"No, it isn't, it's just a contradiction."

And then just to add to the reasons why there should probably be a comma, when I hear people in "No, you didn't" "Yes, I did" type of arguments, they often are putting an emphasis on the No & Yes of it . No, you didn't. Yes, I did. Occasionally, there's an emphasis on the subject, almost sing-songy. No, you didn't. Yes, I did. Na na na na na. The former should definitely have a comma, but the latter seems to need it too. So where exactly are you hearing a delivery of these lines that don't need commas?



The fact is, the expressions "No it isn't" or "Yes it is" without commas are theoretically meaningless; but everyone knows what they mean.
No, they don't. ;)

pianoman5
02-15-2006, 10:23 AM
Yes they do.

Look, this isn't an argument.
Yes, it is.
No, it isn't, it's just a contradiction.
No, it isn't.
Yes, it is.

Sorry, Sage, but all those extra commas look like squashed mozzies on the page, they do make most readers pause where no pause is intended by the writer (whose paramount aim is communication), and they suck the life out of a dynamic exchange.

poetinahat
02-15-2006, 10:29 AM
I want the comma. Incorrect usage narks me. But that's just me, you see.

I know what's meant, but the missing comma just distracts and annoys me, interfering with my enjoyment of the literature.

If you KNOW it's meant to be there, you are then entitled to OMIT it to achieve the desired effect.

The Monty Python example includes an incorrect use of comma in other circumstances (a run-on sentence). To wit: "No it isn't, it's just contradiction".

Therefore, I'd rule it out as evidence.

poetinahat
02-15-2006, 10:33 AM
they suck the life out of a dynamic exchange.
For me, it's the opposite: the missing commas bug me like a cellphone ringing in the theatre.

Why not allow for a difference of opinion?

Shwebb
02-15-2006, 10:37 AM
I agree w/ Poet.

When I see a sentence that lacks the commas where they are supposed to be, I find it distracting.

I also don't find "Yes, it is" and "No, it isn't" to be very dynamic exchanges, anyway. If you want to add emphasis, I suppose one could use exclamation points or dashes.

"Yes! It is!"
"No--it isn't!"

dragonjax
02-15-2006, 04:02 PM
I agree w/ Poet.

When I see a sentence that lacks the commas where they are supposed to be, I find it distracting.

I also don't find "Yes, it is" and "No, it isn't" to be very dynamic exchanges, anyway. If you want to add emphasis, I suppose one could use exclamation points or dashes.

"Yes! It is!"
"No--it isn't!"

The problem here is that you're adding pauses -- extreme pauses -- when the original intent ("Yes it is!") was no pauses at all.

You know what you should do in this case? Write the dialogue as you see fit. When it gets sold to a publisher, let the publisher's copy editor make the final call.

Barring that, pull out your trusty ol' copy of CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE and look up what it recommends for comma usage in dialogue. (I've got it upstairs; I'll look it up later this morning, if someone here doesn't beat me to the punch.)

dragonjax
02-15-2006, 04:18 PM
Okay, kids. Here's the verdict, from THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE, 15th Edition (6.29): ((note that the examples are from CHICAGO as well))

"Yes," "no," and the like: A comma usually follows yes, no, well, and the like, at the beginning of a sentence if a slight pause is intended.

Yes, I admit that Benson's plan has gained a following.

No, that item is not on the agenda.

Well then, we shall have to take a vote.

but

No no no!

Maryn
02-15-2006, 05:16 PM
Operative phrase: "if a slight pause is intended." It seems, in the example dialogue, that no pause is intended.

I sided with the rowdies on this one. (No one could see my tattoos under my white gloves.)

Maryn, considered the mole by both sides

dragonjax
02-15-2006, 05:26 PM
Operative phrase: "if a slight pause is intended." It seems, in the example dialogue, that no pause is intended.

Exactamundo. :D

reph
02-15-2006, 10:32 PM
Well then, we shall have to take a vote.
The writers of the 15th edition have gone crazy. "Well then" needs a comma after "well."

dragonjax
02-15-2006, 10:55 PM
Not according to their guidelines, reph. Remember, this is specific for dialogue. Add a comma ONLY IF a "slight pause" is intended.

EDIT: I just realized that I hadn't made this clear in the CHICAGO example. This comma usage is specific for dialogue/direct address.

reph
02-15-2006, 11:11 PM
Well, then, I disagree with their guidelines.

As Jamesaritchie posted, pauses don't dictate comma placement. You don't put a comma in a line of dialogue whenever the speaker pauses. By that rule, you'd have "I'm going to the store to pick up some, olive oil." Nor do you leave out a comma whenever a speaker runs words together. You can, but "Well then" isn't the place to do it.

dragonjax
02-15-2006, 11:38 PM
Although CHICAGO is the publishing bible, it's not the only style guide out there.

As for your olive oil example, reph, you wouldn't use a comma, you'd use ellipses marks:

"I'm going to the store to pick up some...olive oil."

Better yet, a beat:

"I'm going to the store to pick up some--" Reph checked his list. "--olive oil."

Then again, unless the Reph in the example above momentarily forgot what he was getting, there wouldn't be a pause at all...

kybudman
02-16-2006, 02:28 AM
I believe you're thinking about commas in a horrible manner. Commas certain can make for pauses, but cintrary to what many believe, this is not the prime reasoin commas are or are not used. It's a terrible mistake to think of commas as reasons for pauses, or as speech patterns.

Commas are placed in senetnces for grammatical reasons, and trying to read them as pauses, or as lack of pauses, is a horrible mistake.

Now, when you can use correct grammar in a manner that puts a pause where you want it, but this is always secondary to teh real use of a comma.

It's not about forcing readers into your speech patterns. This has zero to do with it. What you hear as pauses are not pauses in teh usualy context, such as in speech, they're pauses of separation.

It's simply a huge mistake to even think of commas as part of speeh patterns. They are not. I don't care how we differ in speech patterns, we'd darned well better agree on grammar, on what the separate parts of a sentence are, and why a comma should be placed where it is. Speech patterns and pauses are NOT the reasons commas are used in a given place.

I have, perhaps, miscommunicated.:)

I have not said (so far as I know) that the sole purpose of the grammatical tool is solely for verbal communication purposes. Perhaps your reply will serve the greater purpose of illuminating the difficulty between the two camps.

I believe that I do understand and correctly apply the comma in my writing. I was illustrating the difficulty in the reading of same, in the context of the written word, by the average reader. I am, and will always be, in favor of correct grammatical construction in any writing--especially commercial writing. I believe that you would agree with me that we do, as writers, take upon ourselves the oath of grammatical correctness as the keepers and preservers of the written word.

The issue for me flows beyond that, however. Communication is not complete until the idea we transmit is recieved--as we meant it to be--by the receiver. I believe that this can include inflection, speed, and tone. In public speaking, the tool is very often employed to effect these, and other considerations. I believe that this is, at the very least, a legitimate consideration interiorly--within the writing itself.

While I appreciate your response, and thank you for helping to really illuminate the two seperate, yet equally legitimate, parts of the issue, I do not believe that having such a consideration is, on its face, horrible.

I know that, for me, the grammatical construction is the foundation upon which every idea begins. What happens beyond that can be somewhat directed by what lies beyond the construct of the idea. If I understand what you are saying, you are stating that the correct grammatical construction is sufficient. I could readily agree with you and defend your position without hesitation. To state that this is entirely sufficient is, at least to me, lacking if we do not at least look at how it affects our work from the reader's perspective.

I know it is an ancient discussion, likely not to be decided here. I have a lot of difficulty, sometimes, getting not the words but rather the intent of the words into my writing. (Can you tell?LOL) Any snippet of enlightenment is greatly appreciated. And, your argument did that for me. I thank you for it. And, I agree with it--at least this far: Unless the construction is grammatically correct, it will never be grammatically complete. It is an important reminder that we can all use regularly: The basics count!

I just happen to be investigating the distance between correct and complete.

reph
02-16-2006, 03:14 AM
As for your olive oil example, reph, you wouldn't use a comma, you'd use ellipses marks....

Reph checked his list....
I don't like ellipsis dots for pauses. According to my Chicago, the 12th edition, they're used to indicate that material is missing. Dashes are used for broken speech.

On a more personal note, Reph is a her, not a him.

poetinahat
02-16-2006, 03:19 AM
The original question Maryn posed was not "What does Strunk and White say?" or "What does 'Chicago' say?"

It was "What do you think?"

Otherwise, what's to discuss? We could all just log off and go read our manuals.

(grasshopper)
02-16-2006, 03:52 AM
Well, then, I disagree with their guidelines.


Right on, Reph!

Oh, and hey, I've always had a problem with the way Webster spells words. Can we toss that out the window, too? http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/tongue.gif

But seriously, I'd like to paraphrase something from the CMS 14th ed. preface:

Although the purpose of the CMS was, and remains, to establish rules, the renunciation of an authoritarian position in favor of common sense and flexibility has always been a fundamental and abiding principle. At the heart of that principle is a respect for the author's individuality, purpose, and style.

And it would seem that using the comma or not using it is simply an expression of the author's individuality, purpose, and style.

maestrowork
02-16-2006, 04:09 AM
I don't like ellipsis dots for pauses. According to my Chicago, the 12th edition, they're used to indicate that material is missing. Dashes are used for broken speech.

On a more personal note, Reph is a her, not a him.

Ellipsis are very commonly used for "trailing speech" in fiction, and part of the house styles at major publishers. In non-fiction maybe the rules are different. Dashes are used for "interruption." Different types of broken speech. Besides, fiction tends to be more flexible with regard to punctuation rules -- most likely it depends on the house style.

dragonjax
02-16-2006, 05:23 AM
I don't like ellipsis dots for pauses. According to my Chicago, the 12th edition, they're used to indicate that material is missing. Dashes are used for broken speech.

I've always used dashes to indicate speech that is abruptly cut off, and ellipses marks to indicate where the speech trails off.


On a more personal note, Reph is a her, not a him.

EEP! I am SO sorry! ((Thirty lashes with a wet noodle...heh, or wet noodle--))

dragonjax
02-16-2006, 05:26 AM
The original question Maryn posed was not "What does Strunk and White say?" or "What does 'Chicago' say?"

It was "What do you think?"

Otherwise, what's to discuss? We could all just log off and go read our manuals.

I resorted to CHICAGO because we're talking about "correct" and "incorrect" usage -- which, to me, means that after we discuss amongst ourselves, if we can't come to an agreement, we should, in fact, go read our manuals.

poetinahat
02-16-2006, 05:29 AM
I see your point, DJ. Nevertheless, I read the question as "Which do you prefer?"

If we're voting on a style manual to accept, then I'll shut up and vote. Meanwhile, my itch is mine. Whether the manuals say I can scratch it or must grit my teeth is another matter.

dragonjax
02-16-2006, 06:01 AM
Cool by me, poetinahat. Scratch or grit as you will.

Heck, I'm all sorts of giddy that we're getting into a row over grammar! :hooray:

poetinahat
02-16-2006, 06:11 AM
Amen -- it's good to know that people care.

What I'm learning is that my teachers inculcated certain styles into me, and anything else seems uncomfortable. Why should I care so much about the bloody Harvard comma?

Time for me to lighten up a bit!

reph
02-16-2006, 06:31 AM
The original question Maryn posed was not "What does Strunk and White say?" or "What does 'Chicago' say?"

It was "What do you think?"

Otherwise, what's to discuss? We could all just log off and go read our manuals.
I look at it this way: Manuals are one kind of resource for settling questions like the one Maryn posed. Some rules in a manual sharply distinguish correct from incorrect forms; others state the house style. Another kind of resource is one's own judgment and preferences. Obviously, people here have different preferences. As if things weren't already far enough from black and white, decisions about some commas depend on what you're writing.

So, yes, discuss away!

poetinahat
02-16-2006, 06:45 AM
So, yes, discuss away!Lovely use of commas, reph!

reph
02-16-2006, 06:53 AM
Lovely use of commas, reph!
Why, thank you, sir.

(Spectators will notice the difference in tone from "Why thank you, sir?")

Sage
02-16-2006, 07:08 AM
I agree w/ Poet.

When I see a sentence that lacks the commas where they are supposed to be, I find it distracting.

I also don't find "Yes, it is" and "No, it isn't" to be very dynamic exchanges, anyway. If you want to add emphasis, I suppose one could use exclamation points or dashes.

"Yes! It is!"
"No--it isn't!"Or even periods would work, if that's how it's meant to be expressed. My gamers (for whom I record the quotes) often state, "No. I don't," with the "no" it's own separate statement.

"You're like, 'Bruebelly scone dericious!"
"No. I'm not."

Shwebb
02-16-2006, 07:10 AM
Heck, I'd even go with this:

"Yessitis!"
"No'tisn't!"

reph
02-16-2006, 07:14 AM
"Yessitis" looks like an inflammation. "Can't play golf today, Bud. I came down with yessitis."

poetinahat
02-16-2006, 07:15 AM
"You're like, 'Bruebelly scone dericious!"
"No. I'm not."
:e2point:

Shwebb
02-16-2006, 07:24 AM
"Yessitis" looks like an inflammation. "Can't play golf today, Bud. I came down with yessitis."

Yeah, I realized that after I posted it. *giggle* Perhaps "Yessit-is!" or
"Yes-it-is!" might work better.

niknicnac
05-31-2011, 08:59 AM
I would include the commas, but then I'm like kybudman, I tend to throw buckets of commas at everything. Once I get tired of seeing that fancy, red "e" telling me to remove them, and my delete finger gets sore, I start getting paranoid about using commas and they get neglected. It's all very traumatizing!

Fallen
05-31-2011, 09:40 AM
why me...?

mccardey
05-31-2011, 10:37 AM
Without even reading the responses, I will have to opt for a nice cup of tea with the comma crowd - which is going to be very upsetting news for the poor chickie-in-editing who had to remove so many commas from the ms.

I think commas are lovely. I've always seen them as a kind of "now, don't rush" admonition that I find particularly soothing - although the chickie-in-editing is desperately trying to get me to reconsider...

Hey! Who woke the zombie thread??

dpaterso
05-31-2011, 11:13 AM
Hey! Who woke the zombie thread??
2006 was a very good year for comma threads.

-Derek

cooeedownunder
05-31-2011, 12:07 PM
Without commas we can't breathe.

dpaterso
05-31-2011, 02:26 PM
Without commas we can't breathe.
Links to medical evidence that supports this theory, please?

-Derek

mccardey
05-31-2011, 02:40 PM
Links to medical evidence that supports this theory, please?

-Derek

Would a hug (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzgpeLFf4z4) do?

LynnKHollander
05-31-2011, 04:51 PM
Commas. Punctuation indicates structure, not hesitations.

'The stops point out, with truth, the time of pause
A sentence doth require at ev'ry clause.
At ev'ry comma, stop while one you count;
At a semicolon, two is the amount;
A colon doth require the time of three
A period four, as learned men agree.' ~~ which I located in 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves', quoted by Lynne Truss, who adds immediately after this: "I think it's rubbish. Complete nonsense."
I agree with her.
Written dialogue is prose. Punctuate it correctly and let the reader put in the pauses, either silently, if reading alone, or because she needs to breathe, if reading aloud.

Bufty
05-31-2011, 07:25 PM
I used to read aloud a lot.

In reading aloud, punctuation marks alert me to the unfolding structure of the sentence currently being read but I never interpret a comma as signifying an automatic pause.

I alone, as the speaker, determine whether or not a pause is called for anywhere in what I am reading aloud and that depends upon my interpretation of the unfolding sentence as aided by whatever punctuation marks the writer has used.

Reading aloud a badly punctuated piece of prose (I include dialogue in that) can be a nightmare for both speaker and listener.

My needing to breathe is in the equation but not a major factor. Properly structured and punctuated sentences don't cause any breathing difficulties in delivery


Commas. Punctuation indicates structure, not hesitations.

'The stops point out, with truth, the time of pause
A sentence doth require at ev'ry clause.
At ev'ry comma, stop while one you count;
At a semicolon, two is the amount;
A colon doth require the time of three
A period four, as learned men agree.' ~~ which I located in 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves', quoted by Lynne Truss, who adds immediately after this: "I think it's rubbish. Complete nonsense."
I agree with her.
Written dialogue is prose. Punctuate it correctly and let the reader put in the pauses, either silently, if reading alone, or because she needs to breathe, if reading aloud.

niknicnac
06-01-2011, 01:07 AM
Hey! Who woke the zombie thread??[/QUOTE]

That would be me. Still new to the site and jumped to this thread from a link in a current thread. I am curious about anything with commas, seeing how I seriously need a comma clinic and didn't think to look at the date until after I replied. (blushing, oops!)

mccardey
06-01-2011, 03:11 AM
That would be me. Still new to the site and jumped to this thread from a link in a current thread. I am curious about anything with commas, seeing how I seriously need a comma clinic and didn't think to look at the date until after I replied. (blushing, oops!)

I'm very glad you did - I'd missed it. Grammar zombie threads should be regularly woken :) I will send you a rep point forthwith - and welcome to AW!

Smirkin
06-01-2011, 07:15 AM
Yay! I was rooting for those pause-less spaces!

mccardey
06-01-2011, 07:33 AM
Yay! I was rooting for those pause-less spaces!

she said rooting

*snigger*

Clearly not an Australian.....

cooeedownunder
06-01-2011, 10:40 AM
Links to medical evidence that supports this theory, please?

-Derek

This was as close as I could get, but it I think it says to remove commas to avoid strangulation :D
Know the Law: Resource Materials on Strangulation (http://www.correctionhistory.org/northcountry/html/knowlaw/strangulation3.htm)

When the key word was "choking," it brought articles about medical conditions or ... It is critical to know that breathing changes may initially appear to be mild, ... impression marks occur and are shaped like commas or semicircles. ... and plan on prosecution based on the evidence, just like in a murder case. ...

LynnKHollander
06-01-2011, 05:53 PM
I should have added: And dramatic pauses when called for, if indulging in performance art; but that's interpretation, and is left as an exercise for the student/actor.

Deb Kinnard
06-23-2011, 02:37 AM
As commas (my current editor has gone through my soon-to-be-published book and removed almost all of them), so the word that.

She removes the word that in constructions such as: "She chose day-off clothes, jeans and a tee shirt in yellow that went well with light brown hair." And "It meant only that he dealt with his confusion in his own way."

If she insists I remove that, what on earth am I supposed to put in its place? And where did this senseless rule come from??

Thoughts?

Chase
06-23-2011, 03:12 AM
She removes the word that in constructions such as: "She chose day-off clothes, jeans and a tee shirt in yellow that went well with light brown hair." And "It meant only that he dealt with his confusion in his own way."

If she insists I remove that, what on earth am I supposed to put in its place? And where did this senseless rule come from??

Thoughts?

My thought is she was too hasty about the tee in yellow that went with her hair. However, "It meant only he dealt with his confusion in his own way" reads perfectly well to me.

It's not a rule, but too many "that" constructions drive me batty, as well.

It's not what we should put another word in its place; instead, we should rephrase some lines so all characters and the narrator don't that-that-that us to death.

"She chose day-off clothes, jeans and a tee shirt in yellow going with light brown hair" and "She chose day-off clothes, jeans and a yellow tee setting off her light brown hair" are only two viable alternatives.

I stuggle with similar echo words.

kkwrites
06-23-2011, 03:42 AM
You can put another notch under 'comma, si'.

Deb Kinnard
06-23-2011, 05:04 AM
I hear what you're saying, Chase, but what is wrong with those sentences as they're written?

Chase
06-23-2011, 07:07 AM
I hear what you're saying, Chase, but what is wrong with those sentences as they're written?


Nothing is wrong with each sentence, per se. Each alone is absolutely sound. But sentences in a story are no longer separate entities.



too many "that" constructions

If a word or phrase or manner of speaking appears too many times, it calls attention to itself. Another downside: if an echo or three are pervasive throughout the narrative and from character to character, they all tend to "sound" like one speaker.

I need my "highly-polished prose" weeded as much as anyone. I love just. Just a handful is just never enough, because I just can't see them and, besides, they just sound so right.

atlantica
06-23-2011, 06:06 PM
I believe it helps to vividly convey my thoughts. So yes, I will
control the pace of my story with any and all means available
to me, even at the risk of seeming illiterate. One can look to
many authors (Bradbury, Kerouac) and find a reckless
disregard for the comma.

That said, I'm just finishing English Comp. 101 and wouldn't
dare try this method in class. As with anything, you have to
know your audience.

Rustgold
06-25-2011, 05:27 AM
"No you didn't,"
is more snappy in delivery than
"No, you didn't,"

You're writing a person's emotions, and this should reflect in your writing.

Maryn
06-25-2011, 08:23 PM
Uh, folks? I asked the question in 2006. The specific story in which this came up sold long ago.

Maryn, who's moved on