How and Why to Use Commas

Using commas correctly is vital for good grammar and is often overlooked.

Adding commas to your writing can change the outcome of a sentence very quickly. In the same way, using your commas incorrectly could have detrimental effects. We know that commas are used to separate a series of words to make it sound more like a person talking. You want your writing to be relatable and engaging and using your commas correctly can create that. If you use the best grammar check tool, you will probably receive some help, but what happens when punctuation software is unavailable? Here are some of the basic rules of using commas correctly.

Connect independent sentences

You can use commas to connect two phrases that are completely independent. When it comes to writing, using short sentences are usually frowned upon. You can quickly eliminate this issue by using a comma to lengthen the sentence while keeping your grammar in check. If you are not confident in your writing yet, use punctuation checker software a few times until you get the hang of things. Here is an example of using a comma to connect independent sentences.

She ran very fast, she was a great runner.

This is a great way of using commas because you can go from one point to another just by using it correctly.

Eliminate confusion

Writing without the use of commas can become a confusing read. Adding commas in the right place can eliminate this confusion. As human beings, we do not speak nonstop without taking a breath. This is how you should look at your comma use. The place you naturally take a breath should be the place you insert your comma. The structure and the meaning of a sentence can totally depend on the usage of commas. Let’s look at an example of how to eliminate confusion in your writing.

For many the end of the month seems far away.

For many, the end of the month seems far away.

Just by adding a comma in the right place, we are able to make the meaning of the sentence more clear to the reader.

Separate items

Use commas to separate several items in one sentence. There has been some controversy about using commas to separate the last item in a sentence, called the Oxford Comma. Some believe it is completely unnecessary to use a comma before the last item if the word ‘and’ is included. On the flip side, there are those who believe it is of complete importance to include a comma to make the intended meaning clearer. Here is a demonstration of this controversy.

For my birthday we ate cake, ice cream and jelly.

For my birthday we ate cake, ice cream, and jelly.

In this example the comma between ice cream and jelly differentiates between having jelly with ice cream, and jelly and ice cream as separate things on a list that were eaten – so infer different meanings with the inclusion or exclusion of the comma.  This is just one example, and it may not be the same in another. Think about the meaning you are trying to convey and use the Oxford comma appropriately.

Introductory adverbs

There are many introductory adverbs that need a comma next to it to make the sentence flow better. These kinds of adverbs include the following.

Finally, I was able to go to the farm.

Instantly, there was a raccoon on top of our roof.

However, I believed that he was speaking the truth.

In our last example, we used the adverb “however” at the beginning of a sentence. This is another controversial topic because many writers discourage using the word to start off a sentence. Standard advice is to use the word within the sentence and not at the beginning, but if you are going to use the adverb to start a sentence, always use a comma next to it.

Conclusion

Commas are very important in our everyday writing as well as our professional writing. You always want to communicate that you have good grammar and language skills and one way to do that is by using your commas correctly. Without the use of commas, we would live in a confusing world because messages would be incorrectly interpreted.

Even if you are writing a quick note to someone, make sure to include commas if you want the note to be understood the way you meant it. Many people use commas incorrectly, but once you know the basic and fundamental rules, you can improve your grammar instantly.

There are many more rules pertaining to commas and you might have to do some research to get them all right. With time and practice, you will be able to write better and communicate more effectively.

***

Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/where-when-how-and-why-to-use-commas

Video: How To Punctuate Your Dialogue

Punctuate-Dialogue

You’re in the thick of writing some characters’ conversations and it hits you: where do the commas go? Do you need one after an exclamation mark? How’s it supposed to look on the page?

We’ve broken down some dialogue into it’s simplest parts with our step-by-step, visual tutorial covering punctuation, dialogue tags, descriptors, and formatting.

“When you’re writing your work and submitting it to places, you’ll look a lot more professional and it’ll be less work for your editor to go back and fix up those nitty-gritty bits…”

Dialogue is something that you can easily get wrong with just one comma out of place. Check out the video in full by following this link:

Video: Master Dialogue Punctuation

What to Take Away From This Video:

  1. Punctuation should always be inside the quotation marks.
  2. The simple comma is your friend! Use it when tying up speech around dialogue tags (the old favourite, ‘s/he said’).
  3. Each line of dialogue should be on a new line; keep the formatting nice and clean.

A great exercise is to pick two or three books (ones that you love!) and find some examples of dialogue. Each book may be slightly different in their smaller details, but it’s handy to see the basics of punctuation in action.

The best way to learn, of course, is by writing some dialogue yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because practice makes perfect!

Punctuation Problems for Writers

Punctuation

Punctuation is usually the most ignored grammar aspect when it comes to writing. Yet, it might make you look really unprofessional in the eyes of your readers. In some cases, they may just fail to understand you well. Learn the most crucial punctuation mistakes and take all the necessary steps to avoid them.

1. Oh that comma

The use of commas adds necessary breaks into the text. Without commas, it would be difficult to choose an appropriate intonation and divide the sentences into logical parts. You can either miss them where they are necessary or put too many of them into the text.

Solution: Read your sentence out loud and pay attention to those places where you make pauses. Don’t put commas after “but” or “and” if the second sentence doesn’t have a subject. If you see your sentence is too long and overloaded with commas, try replacing some of them with periods and making two or even three sentences out of one.

2. It’s or Its

Inappropriate use of any of these forms is quite widespread in writing today. Though being seemingly similar, they have absolutely different meanings, and their misuse can affect the entire sentence. This is actually one of the most popular mistakes that even experienced writers can accidentally make.

Solution: It stands for it is or it has while its is used when you are referring to a possessive form of something. Always read your text upon writing. It will help you spot even those mistakes you’ve been confident you’ve avoided.

3. Confusion with apostrophes

The use of apostrophes can often be a problem, especially for non-native language speakers. Even if you remember to put an apostrophe whenever you need to create a possessive form, some issues are still unclear when you do it.

Solution: It’s their’s – apostrophe shouldn’t be used here. Be careful when the noun that is used before another noun serves as an adjectival label (e.g. writers conference). In this case, no apostrophe is required either. When we need to create a possessive form out of plurals, keep in mind that they already end in s and the apostrophe has to be placed at the end of the word (e.g. babies’ beds).

4. Too many exclamation marks

Do you really think you will grab more attention if you use exclamation marks all over the text? It will only make your text annoying. By the excessive use of exclamation marks, I mean either using them after each sentence or using three or more marks in a row.

Solution: Remember: if you add more exclamation marks than necessary, it won’t make your information more meaningful. Leave them for some really impressive facts or details. Don’t make your readers bored with them. In addition, your text will look visually unattractive if it’s overcrowded with exclamation marks.

5. Hyphen or Dash

The misuse of dashes and hyphens in a text is quite widespread among writers. And that’s not just because of not understanding the difference. It’s mainly because of some keyboard limitations when you work in certain text editors.

Solution: Hyphen (short line) is used to bridge two or more related words (e.g. face-to-face). Dash (long line) is used to describe things in detail or show a better explanation of something. Very often, it’s possible to see a dash shown as “–” (two hyphens). Make sure you use it as “–“ to look more professional.

6. Misuse of quotation marks

The excessive use of quotation marks in a text is quite common. They are often used to emphasize certain parts of the sentence and make them look visually stronger. When nothing is quoted, neither single nor double marks are relevant.

Solution: As the name suggests, we should use the quotation marks only when we quote someone’s words. When you really need to emphasize something, consider using italic or bold font, or even write it in a different color. One more important detail about the quotation marks is their combination with the commas, periods, exclamation and question marks. All the punctuation marks should be put inside the quotation marks.

7. Colons and semi-colons

These are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably in the text or used where starting a new sentence would be much better.

Solution: Colons are used in a text to introduce one or more items. However, try not to use colons when the list follows the verb (e.g., I want tea, breakfast, and water). They are also used when you are listing items one per line or when two independent clauses are used, and one of them explains another one (e.g., He got what he deserved: he really worked hard to get this promotion).

8. One more comma problem

While sometimes you just need your common sense to feel when commas are required, in the majority of cases, you will still have to rely on the rules to make sure you use commas where necessary.

Solution: All the introductory words (Moreover, In addition, However) are separated with a comma. When you need to specify some unessential information in the text, you’d better separate it with commas too. You should also use it before a direct quotation.

9. Inappropriate punctuation of Latin abbreviations

Latin abbreviations are used quite frequently in the text. However, some of them can sometimes be misused or punctuated incorrectly.

Solution:

  • etc. means so on. If it’s put at the end of the sentence, one more period is not required.
  • e.g. means for example. It’s followed by a comma.
  • i.e. means that is, in essence. It is followed by a comma as well.

10. Punctuation of bulleted lists

Bulleted lists make it easier to present information and list things. They are used so frequently that it’s necessary to know how to punctuate them properly.

Solution: If one bullet covers a full sentence, use periods at the end of each. Use no punctuation marks after single words or phrases. However, the last item in the list will be followed by a period. Do not use semi-colons to separate the list items.

Read the original article here: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/10-top-punctuation-problems-for-writers/

10 Tips & Tricks To Improve Your Writing

10 easy ways to improve your writing:

As social networking is predominately text driven, it is a good idea to make sure your writing is up to an acceptable and readable standard.

There’s nothing worse than reading a tweet, Facebook, Google+ or blog post that is full of errors. It gives an impression to the reader that you are either careless, or worse, a bit stupid.

So, to help you make a better impression on the few million people that may be reading you, (yes, daunting isn’t it?) and improve your writing, here are a few tips you might want to consider:

1. Always check that your verb agree with the subject. I hates this mistake with a passion.

2. Almost every comptupter has a speelchekker, so use it. Yoo could even use teh auto-tect correction for commun errors.

3. Typos involving small common words like that and than, it and is, and there and their are easy to make. Check before you hit the send button. Better to be safe that sorry.

4. One mistake that irks me is the incorrect use of capitalisation. i just cringe when i see this error.

4. When you use numbered bullets, make sure they are sequential.

6. Check your formatting in blog post as errors are not always obvious.

7. USE OF SHOUTING CAPITALS WILL OFFEND READERS, SO DON’T USE THEM. Except for unavoidable acronyms. LOL

8. There are some who think; oddly enough, that punctuation – commas, colons and em dashes, are a sign: or symbolic, of high intellect. In fact, the opposite is true and you stand a good chance of looking like a real fool.

9. I dislike sentences that always start with I. I hate it in fact. I stop reading instantly. I would advise against it. I really would.

10. Reading long passages of text on the Internet; whether it be on a computer, laptop or mobile phone is very tiring on a reader’s eyes so you should be careful not to ramble on with long sentences and un-paragraphed passages of text that are neither informative nor interesting as you will lose your reader very quickly as they will become bored and stop reading your diatribe quicker than you can say Jack Robinson, so don’t just keep typing ad infinitum about your pet subject in long and badly punctuated sentences that keep waffling on without ever coming to the point that was probably your intention to begin with, but you forgot about once you got started and decided to add one extra point in your sentence that should have included a relative pronoun but you got lazy and just used a random comma and kept on typing. Phew!

11. Be sure that your title is a relevant and accurate summary of your article.

So there you go – I hope this post clearly makes the point. And if you got to this part without noticing anything wrong, I suggest you go back and re-read it – there are a mountain of glaring errors that any writer worth his salt should have picked up on. For most of you though, this should be a fun exercise. Just make sure you can see my point through your tears of laughter!

Via: http://www.justpublishingadvice.com/10-tips-tricks-to-improve-your-writing

10 Top Punctuation Problems for Writers

Punctuation

Punctuation is usually the most ignored grammar aspect when it comes to writing. Yet, it might make you look really unprofessional in the eyes of your readers. In some cases, they may just fail to understand you well. Learn the most crucial punctuation mistakes and take all the necessary steps to avoid them.

1. Oh that comma

The use of commas adds necessary breaks into the text. Without commas, it would be difficult to choose an appropriate intonation and divide the sentences into logical parts. You can either miss them where they are necessary or put too many of them into the text.

Solution: Read your sentence out loud and pay attention to those places where you make pauses. Don’t put commas after “but” or “and” if the second sentence doesn’t have a subject. If you see your sentence is too long and overloaded with commas, try replacing some of them with periods and making two or even three sentences out of one.

2. It’s or Its

Inappropriate use of any of these forms is quite widespread in writing today. Though being seemingly similar, they have absolutely different meanings, and their misuse can affect the entire sentence. This is actually one of the most popular mistakes that even experienced writers can accidentally make.

Solution: It stands for it is or it has while its is used when you are referring to a possessive form of something. Always read your text upon writing. It will help you spot even those mistakes you’ve been confident you’ve avoided.

3. Confusion with apostrophes

The use of apostrophes can often be a problem, especially for non-native language speakers. Even if you remember to put an apostrophe whenever you need to create a possessive form, some issues are still unclear when you do it.

Solution: It’s their’s – apostrophe shouldn’t be used here. Be careful when the noun that is used before another noun serves as an adjectival label (e.g. writers conference). In this case, no apostrophe is required either. When we need to create a possessive form out of plurals, keep in mind that they already end in s and the apostrophe has to be placed at the end of the word (e.g. babies’ beds).

4. Too many exclamation marks

Do you really think you will grab more attention if you use exclamation marks all over the text? It will only make your text annoying. By the excessive use of exclamation marks, I mean either using them after each sentence or using three or more marks in a row.

Solution: Remember: if you add more exclamation marks than necessary, it won’t make your information more meaningful. Leave them for some really impressive facts or details. Don’t make your readers bored with them. In addition, your text will look visually unattractive if it’s overcrowded with exclamation marks.

5. Hyphen or Dash

The misuse of dashes and hyphens in a text is quite widespread among writers. And that’s not just because of not understanding the difference. It’s mainly because of some keyboard limitations when you work in certain text editors.

Solution: Hyphen (short line) is used to bridge two or more related words (e.g. face-to-face). Dash (long line) is used to describe things in detail or show a better explanation of something. Very often, it’s possible to see a dash shown as “–” (two hyphens). Make sure you use it as “–“ to look more professional.

6. Misuse of quotation marks

The excessive use of quotation marks in a text is quite common. They are often used to emphasize certain parts of the sentence and make them look visually stronger. When nothing is quoted, neither single nor double marks are relevant.

Solution: As the name suggests, we should use the quotation marks only when we quote someone’s words. When you really need to emphasize something, consider using italic or bold font, or even write it in a different color. One more important detail about the quotation marks is their combination with the commas, periods, exclamation and question marks. All the punctuation marks should be put inside the quotation marks.

7. Colons and semi-colons

These are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably in the text or used where starting a new sentence would be much better.

Solution: Colons are used in a text to introduce one or more items. However, try not to use colons when the list follows the verb (e.g., I want tea, breakfast, and water). They are also used when you are listing items one per line or when two independent clauses are used, and one of them explains another one (e.g., He got what he deserved: he really worked hard to get this promotion).

8. One more comma problem

While sometimes you just need your common sense to feel when commas are required, in the majority of cases, you will still have to rely on the rules to make sure you use commas where necessary.

Solution: All the introductory words (Moreover, In addition, However) are separated with a comma. When you need to specify some unessential information in the text, you’d better separate it with commas too. You should also use it before a direct quotation.

9. Inappropriate punctuation of Latin abbreviations

Latin abbreviations are used quite frequently in the text. However, some of them can sometimes be misused or punctuated incorrectly.

Solution:

  • etc. means so on. If it’s put at the end of the sentence, one more period is not required.
  • e.g. means for example. It’s followed by a comma.
  • i.e. means that is, in essence. It is followed by a comma as well.

10. Punctuation of bulleted lists

Bulleted lists make it easier to present information and list things. They are used so frequently that it’s necessary to know how to punctuate them properly.

Solution: If one bullet covers a full sentence, use periods at the end of each. Use no punctuation marks after single words or phrases. However, the last item in the list will be followed by a period. Do not use semi-colons to separate the list items.

Read the original article here: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/10-top-punctuation-problems-for-writers/