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estateconnection
08-02-2006, 06:45 AM
I feel silly asking this question, but I am reading a book for school and there is a line in the book I can't get past because of the omission of a comma. Please tell me if the book is correct. The sentence, as it is written in the book, is:

After his return from Paris Freud worked as a general physician at the Vienna General Hospital.

I would write that sentence:

After his return from Paris, Freud worked as a general physician at the Vienna General Hospital.

Is my assumption of the comma after Paris incorrect?

maestrowork
08-02-2006, 06:47 AM
You're correct.

estateconnection
08-02-2006, 06:51 AM
Ah, thank you. Even textbooks have the odd error, yes?

Perks
08-02-2006, 06:54 AM
Is Paris Freud related to Paris Hilton?

estateconnection
08-02-2006, 07:12 AM
You know Perks, I didn't even read it that way because I couldn't even finish the sentence. My eyes kept staring at that empty place where I thought the comma should be. Then of course, I questioned my twenty something years of comma use and wondered if I had been abusively sucking from the comma repository. I demand compensation!

maestrowork
08-02-2006, 04:57 PM
I think this is a case when we know something isn't right because "Paris Freud" just looks and sounds weird. However, I have seen people skip the comma all the time, in published work:

"If I knew you were coming I would have made dinner."

"After I'd bathed I took a nap."

The problem, I think, is that if you invert either sentence, the comma is not needed, so many people don't think a comma is need anyway:

"I would have made dinner if I knew you were coming."
"I took a nap after I had bathed."

reph
08-02-2006, 08:32 PM
I have seen people skip the comma all the time, in published work:

..."After I'd bathed I took a nap."

The problem, I think, is that if you invert either sentence, the comma is not needed, so many people don't think a comma is need anyway:

..."I took a nap after I had bathed."Here's another reason people don't think the first sentence needs a comma. It's easy to parse because the second "I" signals the start of another clause. This would be less easy:

"After I'd bathed my dog and I took a nap."

Readers will speed through the first few words thinking I bathed my dog. Then they come to "and" and have to go back and figure out just who had a bath.

stephblake24
08-04-2006, 09:12 PM
I hate comma rules.

bluejester12
08-04-2006, 10:29 PM
I think this is a case when we know something isn't right because "Paris Freud" just looks and sounds weird. However, I have seen people skip the comma all the time, in published work:

"If I knew you were coming I would have made dinner."

"After I'd bathed I took a nap."

The problem, I think, is that if you invert either sentence, the comma is not needed, so many people don't think a comma is need anyway:

"I would have made dinner if I knew you were coming."
"I took a nap after I had bathed."


The past perfect strikes me as odd for "bathed."


I've been experiementing with commas in MS Word, and at times an omission or placing of a comma is not counted as a grammar error FYI. I know, it's Word (comma splice intentional).

reph
08-04-2006, 10:42 PM
The past perfect strikes me as odd for "bathed."Actually, the past perfect would be correct in the other example. "I would have made dinner if I'd known you were coming."

laurel29
08-05-2006, 01:50 AM
Commas scare me :(. I am afraid to put too many in, so I end up leaving too many out. :( I always use them incorrectly. I am reading some grammar books right now, but I know this is going to be something I struggle with. I have a comma phobia...

stephblake24
08-05-2006, 03:20 AM
Laurel29. I have comma phobia, too. Maybe we should start a support group.

I have an English degree with an A in college grammar, and I still use them incorrectly.

I have a sticky note with hints... Also go here: http://www.junketstudies.com/rulesofw/

Silver King
08-05-2006, 05:21 AM
Commas scare me :(. I am afraid to put too many in, so I end up leaving too many out. :( I always use them incorrectly.

Laurel, there wasn't an instance in your post of a misplaced comma. In fact, they're used with the utmost skill to give the reader pause with the greatest inflection. So you see, you're weaving correct punctuation through your writing, perhaps without realizing it, and that's the mark of natural writing at its best.

bluejester12
08-08-2006, 02:10 AM
Actually, the past perfect would be correct in the other example. "I would have made dinner if I'd known you were coming."

I know. That's why I didn't mention that example :)


Here's one rule I do remember: use a comma before a conjunction if an independent clause follows it. Silver King's last sentence, for example.

Last I heard, it's a matter of choice and not a hard rule for examples like:


I ate turkey, salad, and a tofu dog.
I ate turkey, salad and a tofu dog.

smallthunder
08-08-2006, 03:05 AM
Laurel29. I have comma phobia, too. Maybe we should start a support group.

I have an English degree with an A in college grammar, and I still use them incorrectly.

I have a sticky note with hints... Also go here: http://www.junketstudies.com/rulesofw/

Thanks for the site --

Jamesaritchie
08-08-2006, 03:50 AM
I know. That's why I didn't mention that example :)


Here's one rule I do remember: use a comma before a conjunction if an independent clause follows it. Silver King's last sentence, for example.

Last I heard, it's a matter of choice and not a hard rule for examples like:


I ate turkey, salad, and a tofu dog.
I ate turkey, salad and a tofu dog.

Not really a choice, but rather a decision as to whether the serial comma is good or bad. For the most part, stick to the serial comma. It'll save editors a bunch of grief. They're likely to change it if you don't use it, but they'll never mess with hit if you do.

And not using the serial comma can lead to some really horrid and confusing sentences. Better safe than getting laughed at.

DeborahM
08-08-2006, 10:01 AM
Commas scare me :(. I am afraid to put too many in, so I end up leaving too many out. :( I always use them incorrectly. I am reading some grammar books right now, but I know this is going to be something I struggle with. I have a comma phobia...

Boy, can my editor relate to that statement after reading my work! Thank the Lord his patience quota is high. I keep reading the comma rules hoping it will sink in some day and the light will go on!

And thanks to this thread, I don't feel so bad about thinking I was the sole owner of idiotcy when it comes to the commas.

maestrowork
08-08-2006, 05:26 PM
Serial commas, IMO, are optional but they do give clarity. For example:

I ate some cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

is different than

I ate some cheese, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches

bluejester12
08-08-2006, 08:07 PM
Serial commas, IMO, are optional but they do give clarity. For example:

I ate some cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

is different than

I ate some cheese, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches



Optional as long as the meaning is clear--that's what I was getting at, too.

TeddyG
08-08-2006, 08:15 PM
I am, pure and simple, comma challenged.

stephblake24
08-08-2006, 09:15 PM
Boy, can my editor relate to that statement after reading my work! Thank the Lord his patience quota is high. I keep reading the comma rules hoping it will sink in some day and the light will go on!

And thanks to this thread, I don't feel so bad about thinking I was the sole owner of idiotcy when it comes to the commas.

Isn't it strange how we can write for years, read Strunk, etc., but we still don't know about the comma?

I start 2nd guessing myself all the time. It is very annoying, and sometimes it hurts my writing because I am too concerned with the stupid comma.

I recently sent an agent a query, and she said it had typos BECAUSE of misplaced commas. I hate that.

I was reading some of Judy Blume; she doesn't use commas ALL the time.

Bufty
08-08-2006, 09:56 PM
Treat the comma as both enabling one to draw breath and being the bearer of clarity and one can't go too far wrong.

Heartsease
08-08-2006, 11:53 PM
I like this, finally a "rule" I think I will be able to remember.

LA

Steve W
08-22-2006, 07:18 PM
Hi,


I ate some cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

is different than

I ate some cheese, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches

In England, the first statement is a correct use of the comma. We're taught you never place a comma before 'and'. I read in a grammar book that using commas in such a way is a US convention. That said, I find it does clarify things, so have adopted the technique. Of course, my English teachers and the book could have been wrong. I suppose it's similar to the numbering convention: 100,000 is US; 100 000 is UK.

Here's a horror story - my first apostrophe lesson (that I recall) was that human things get one, nothing else does. For example, 'the boy's head' is correct, but 'the dog's head' is wrong. Must have been one hell of a teacher. She also taught me that 'its' was 'it's'. Good knows what's become of all the kids she taught over the years. Could explain why I don't personally recognise any of the names on the best-seller lists!

Cheers,
Steve

Heather Lewis
08-22-2006, 11:05 PM
In England, the first statement is a correct use of the comma. We're taught you never place a comma before 'and'. I read in a grammar book that using commas in such a way is a US convention.
I think Lynne Truss talks about the serial comma in Eats, Shoots, and Leaves...probably everyone here has read that book by now, but if not, I highly recommend it!

As has been pointed out, a serial comma is helpful when the sentence would be confusing without it, as in the sentence: "I'd like to thank my parents, God and Mother Theresa."

Technically you can go either way in instances like:

After dinner I had a bath.
After dinner, I had a bath.

Usu. just depends on your preference, or your publisher's style guide.

MR

maestrowork
08-22-2006, 11:41 PM
Technically you can go either way in instances like:

After dinner I had a bath.


Nope. You need a comma after dinner.

And maybe a cognac.

rekirts
08-23-2006, 12:12 AM
I've read in several places that when a short prepositional phrase (less than five words) begins the sentence a comma is not required.

Heather Lewis
08-23-2006, 02:38 AM
I've read in several places that when a short prepositional phrase (less than five words) begins the sentence a comma is not required.

Thanks. I couldn't remember the grammatical term for it.

Mmmm...cognac. Good idea when dealing with commas! :)

MR

"I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out." -- Oscar Wilde

maestrowork
08-23-2006, 03:10 AM
This is what I found out (from here (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_commaint.html)):



When to Use a Comma

Introductory elements often require a comma, but not always. Use a comma in the following cases:

- after an introductory clause. (Does the introductory element have a subject and verb of its own?)
- after a long introductory prepositional phrase or more than one introductory prepositional phrase. (Are there more than five words before the main clause?)
- after introductory verbal phrases, some appositive phrases, or absolute phrases.
- if there is a distinct pause. (When you read the sentence aloud, do you find your voice pausing a moment after the introductory element?)

- to avoid confusion. (Might a reader have to read the sentence more than once to make sense of it?)


When not to Use a Comma

Some introductory elements don't require a comma, and sometimes the subject of a sentence looks like an introductory element but isn't. Do not use a comma in the following cases:

- after a brief prepositional phrase. (Is it a single phrase of less than five words?)
- after a restrictive (essential) appositive phrase. (See our document on appositives.)
- to separate the subject from the predicate. (See below.)

Each of the following sentences may look like it requires a comma after the opening segment (marked with an x), but the opening segment is really the subject. It's sometimes easy to confuse gerund- or infinitive-phrase subjects like the following with nonessential introductory phrases, so be careful.

Preparing and submitting his report to the committee for evaluation and possible publication[x] was one of the most difficult tasks Bill had ever attempted.

To start a new business without doing market research and long-term planning in advance[x] would be foolish.

Extracting the most profit for the least expenditure on labor and materials[x] is the primary goal of a capitalist.

Bk_30
08-23-2006, 04:30 AM
yep, I still hate commas!

Southern_girl29
08-24-2006, 10:30 PM
I think it depends on who you are writing for, too. I just checked my AP style guide on commas.

In a Series: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. For example: The flag is red, white and blue. Put a comman before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction. For example, I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

With Introductory Clauses and Phrases: A comma is used to separate an introductory clause or phrase from the main clause. For example, When he had tired of the mad pace of New York, he moved Dubuque. The comma may be omitted after short introductory phrases if no ambiguity would result. For example: During the night, he heard many noises. But use the comma if its omission would slow comprehension. For example: On the street below, the curious gathered.

My editor (at the newspaper) says to use as few commas as necessary. She hates them. She takes them out even when I think they should be there, but she's been doing this for 40 years.