Sunday, December 2, 2012


It seems the use for this little writing tool, the comma, is changing.  In Strunk & White, THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, the first chapter titled ELEMENTARY RULES OF USAGE has seven sections, five of them are about commas.  This being the granddaddy of rules in writing, is a good place to start when considering punctuation.  The attention this authoritative book gave to commas indicates their importance; has been the long established rules about how to use commas.  Do we need a new edition?

What was brought to my attention in a newspaper article, “The double life of commas”,written by Ruth Walker in her “verbal energy” column in the Christian Science Monitor (issue 36, pg47), is that we are now suppose to omit the comma after if, and, or, but, namely a conjunction, when used at the beginning of a sentence.  She sets forth that there are two kinds of commas.  1. Because of a rule (Strunk & White), or  2. Those that serve as a kind of stage direction.  One of her pet peeves is a comma after the conjunction that begins a sentence.

When I talk I pause every time after I say but.  It's my speech rhythm, tone, voice, my vernacular.  I'll be telling a story then say but and take a breath. I use but to say, “wait a minute, listen to this!”.  It's in my writing because that's the way I talk.  One writing rule is to write the way you talk.  ELEMENTS OF STYLE, page 63, "Write in a way that comes naturally." So when I start my sentences with the conjunction but, I will not be able to omit my comma directing you to pause then proceed.  I'm a stage director from the word go in this case.  Things are always changing.  That's a good thing.  We don't write or talk like Shakespeare anymore, but, for now, when I write it will have to remain the same when a certain conjunction begins a sentence.

Ernest Gowers wrote that the correct use of commas – “if there is such a thing as ‘correct’ use – can only be acquired by common sense, observation and taste”.

I would like to invite all the writers out there to write stories about the pictures (in any of my posts) and send them to  and I will post them.
Want more exposure, write a story about a picture.

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