Commas Are The Bane Of My Existence

I love to write.  Love, love, love to write.  I can write my blog posts very quickly.  Usually in 15-20 minutes.  Except the memoir essays.  They take a lot longer and are usually emotionally grueling.  But a post like this?  20 minutes tops.

And then comes the editing.

Minimum an hour.  Not counting posts that are only 1-3 lines.  I still check those a bunch of times.  It would be pretty embarrassing to write a two sentence blog article and screw it up.

Formatting is part of it, because how it formats on the “add new post” page is not exactly how it looks on the laptop, or kindle, or phone.  I go for the laptop.  People reading my blog on smaller devices are on their own.

It’s the commas.

Taking graduate English and Linguistic classes, I learned that the biggest grammatical error writers make in the English language is a dearth of commas.  When I heard that, I wanted to be all “So there, friends of mine.  I was right.”

When I start to edit, I read my article slowly before I preview it, and after several times, and several corrections, I read it out loud.

Then I hit Preview.  *sigh* Go back and…..

1.Fix spelling.

2. Fix formatting.

3. Worry about commas.   Whaaaaaa?

4. Delete a comma or two.

5. Read Preview again.

6. Add commas back in.

7. Read again.

8. Add more commas.

9. Curse at commas.

And, ladies and gentlemen and all readers of any age, gender, race, religion or political conviction, I am not addressing the Oxford comma.

I was trained that it was not to be used.  I’m guessing a post-colonization issue?

No matter what you say, you will rarely, if ever, find an Oxford comma in my writing.

Side note:  I once got into an argument with a close friend and colleague about the Oxford comma.  It ended up with me hurling the F-bomb.

Over a comma.

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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56 Responses to Commas Are The Bane Of My Existence

  1. SickChristine says:

    Seriously! Why are commas such a problem? I have the same issue. I think it’s because I tend to ramble in my sentences and I think 18 commas in there will help matters. Hahahaha!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I happened to notice the missing Oxford comma before ‘political preference’. I did not know that was the comma missing until I had to look up ‘Oxford comma’. I hate commas, but they are quite necessary.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. momteachdream says:

    I was wondering about your stance on the Oxford comma (I am personally against it) and then I noticed that you didn’t use. Needless to say, I was relieved!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I was taught not to. As was my husband who went to an Ivy League school as an English major and on to a graduate writing program at another top school. But we have teachers at OHS who have posters about how to use the Oxford comma correctly. It’s a hot topic, lol. For real.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Almost Iowa says:

    I like commas. Of all the punctuation symbols, they are perhaps the most friendly. Periods always cut you off. Colons promise more than they ever deliver. Semicolons are a bit confused, but a good old commas, now there is a symbol a guy can hang out with.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. bluestempond says:

    I’m with you on liking commas to clarify my meaning, but I purposely remove some because I’ve heard criticism that one can use them too much. I had to look up the “Oxford comma” but yeah, I always think it should be there.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    Perhaps it’s best not to mention I love the Oxford comma… 😄😬

    But I agree–the surest way to make me go crazy in my editing is commas. They get inserted and removed so much in my work, it’s a wonder they don’t go on strike in protest.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I find that a dearth of commas is a common problem in writing. I always tell people that it’s hard to have too many, so put one in when in doubt. I think the best advice is to imagine where you would pause if you had to read what you’re writing out loud, and place a comma there. Though I do confess to having been converted to the Oxford comma: it’s not always necessary, but it can be useful at clearing up confusion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I say the same thing to people, especially my students. Wherever you would pause, put in a comma. As to the Oxford Comma, there are specific times it is needed for clarification. But those are rather rare. Thanks for adding to this discussion.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I avoid commas and just let my editor (my wife) deal with them. I’ve told here that I was traumatized as a child by an mean comma and we can’t afford the therapy needed for me to overcome my fear of commas.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Bea dM says:

    Editing takes forever, I also hate the idea of uploading something with mistakes. But it does happen, so I try not to make too much of it. I happen to like commas including Oxford 🙂 though too many sound like the author hasn’t mastered the art of deep breathing and can’t make it to the end of a sentence all in one piece …

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Commas are strange; I think I use them too much from force of habit.

    Semicolons are the best punctuation mark; I use them all the time. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sometimes, when I am talking and want to make a point about what is to verbally follow, I actually stop at the end of a phrase and say with obvious tonal emphasis “comma,” and after briefly dangling my participle, I then go on. Oh, that’s just so wrong. But highly effective for attention and sarcasm. Do it sparingly, I suggest.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m very jealous. It usually takes me nearly a week to publish a post. And grammar, its not one of my strong suits (mistakes left in for dramatic effect 😉 )

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Ann Coleman says:

    I was one of the many people who had to look up “Oxford comma.” And I was an English major, but we won’t go into that. I’m glad you brought it up, though, because I have been confused about this for years! I knew what we were taught in college (don’t use it, I believe) but when I wrote free-lance articles, it seemed the editors preferred them. So now I have no clue when I’m writing my blog posts, and tend to choose whichever way makes the sentence a bit clearer and closer to my intention. Other than that, I like commas! It’s my constant use of explanation marks in the comment section that I have to look out for! Because they are annoying as hell…..!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. LOL! I’m amazed at your speed of 20 minutes. That’s awesome! I take too long to even start sometimes. :/ I’m always putting my commas at the wrong place and thanks to grammarly, I mostly get that fixed. But it seems to be my most common error. I bet you’ll be eff-ing all the way on comas if you were to read my draft. ,,, :p

    Liked by 1 person

  15. shoes says:

    I love your passion surrounding that pesky little comma!
    I feel more than a bit ashamed to say that I am lazy, lax, and downright loosey goosey when it comes to editing. I write quickly, then spend my time formatting and feeling the flow of the words much more than worrying about pesky punctuation or silly spelling.
    And finally, before I hit the “post comment” button, I am stewing about each and every one of my comma choices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      You know what I find embarrassing? Going back and reading a post from 2 years ago and realizing there are editing mistakes. Yikes! I changed the whole layout of my blog last year and that formatted past one differently. Oh well. Hopefully, people will read what I wrote and not obsess like I do! You have the right attitude.


  16. Paul says:

    I didn’t edit one essay in university. Once I was done writing I couldn’t bring myself to read through it. I let my mom edit.

    Oh, and you forgot a space between “1.Fix” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sara says:

    Professional editor here. I’d touch up a blog post or two a week for free if you’d write me a testimonial. Do you follow a particular style (AP, Chicago, MLA, etc.)?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You made me laugh! Commas are a bitch!

    Liked by 1 person

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