Comma Protocol

May 23, 2012  |  By Civilian  |  

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I am a commaholic.

It’s true.  I love commas.  I use them all the time, sometimes correctly.  I’ve been told that I am a conversational writer, meaning I write the same way I would talk. Sometimes when I want to make a point, I pause, or use a meaningful hand gesture, or maybe even- maybe even a deep inhale and thoughtful gaze into the distance before concluding my thought, with the proper voice inflections of course.

Really though I use commas all the time, and more often than not, after I finish writing something, I have to go back through and delete out 90% of my commas, and 30% of my semi colons and dashes.  Now that you have read this far, you have probably noticed the exorbitant amount of unnecessary commas in this post.  Though some are placed here merely for dramatic effect, if you browse through my other blog posts, you probably won’t notice a much lower rate of punctuation.

A week or so ago in one of our daily office meetings, the whole team was gathered for an important announcement.  This was vital news and attendance was critical and mandatory.  As we all gathered in the conference room, notepads and pens in hand, eager to hear this imperative update, we received the following tragic information:

“As of today, we will no longer use the serial comma, as the official AP Stylebook deems it unnecessary and in bad taste.  Please remove any superfluous commas on active copy, and please refrain from ever using one in the future.”

My heart sunk.  It was worse than when I learned that Justin and Britney broke up.  No more serial commas?  And why are they called serial commas?  Serial has such a derogatory connotation. Maybe if they called it something more endearing, like a qualifier comma, or a separator comma, or a distinguished comma- maybe then the nice people at AP would be more open to it.

Personally, I like qualifier words like “Personally”, that allow me to start a thought and then pause with a comma before finishing, and I like commas before my “ands” and “ors” to more clearly establish the separation of thoughts.  And since the serial comma rule has changed every couple of years since the time I was old enough to write, I’m hopeful it will make a comeback.  In the meantime, enjoy this article on the proper and accepted usage of commas.

Sarah Matley
Account Coordinator
Mood: Comma-Deprived

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