http://www.sunherald.com/mld/thesunherald/living/9347623.htm Using the comma correctly is often a matter of tempo
Not long ago I ended one of my scholarly dissertations with an admonitory word: "Let us think upon these things, and go in peace."

Remarkably, that gentle valedictory provoked a flood of letters. (Well, eight letters.) In a sense it was much adieu about nothing, for my correspondents were not appalled by the dissertation. They were appalled by the comma - that is, the little squiggle after "things." "Absolutely wrong!" cried a teacher in North Carolina. A reader in Seattle was aghast: "You have torn asunder two independent clauses!"

Very well. That was my comma, I liked the friendly fellow. He added a necessary quarter-rest to the coda. It's a matter of tempo. To end a mock-serious column I wanted a mock-solemn pause - largo, if you please, and not allegro.
Let us talk today of commas. Their employment is loosely governed by idiosyncratic publishers, crotchety editors and the writers of manuals of style. All of them agree that in the realm of punctuation, commas serve important aims of clarity and cadence. My own rule is drawn metaphorically from the practice of two Virginia ladies long ago. They had a firm guide for social occasions during Lent: They would have a drink only if they really needed one. So it is with commas. Throw in a comma only when you really need one.
A writer's ear is essential to a writer's art. We must hear the words we write. In many instances, the sound of a sentence read aloud will govern its punctuation. An introductory phrase, such as "in many instances," generally will demand a comma. Other times it won't. If the cadence is slow, the flag is red, white, and blue. If we're marching briskly, it's red, white and blue. Comma, in; comma out.
Kim Moore, an editor at Harvest House Publishers, asks about the punctuation in this hypothetical sentence: "I fed the dog, then the cat." One school of thought looks at the comma after "dog" and teaches alternatives: "I fed the dog and then the cat," or "I fed the dog; then I fed the cat." Or, "I fed the dog, and then I fed the cat." Obviously we're talking about a remarkably patient cat, but no matter. I would go back to the hypothetical "I fed the dog, then the cat." The sentence is unequivocally clear, and it falls more trippingly from the tongue. Keep it.
A year ago I heard from a Maryland attorney, Irwin R. Kramer. His rule - generally a good one - is to insert a comma "where the reader would naturally take a breath." He liked the commas in this exemplar: "During the defendant's testimony, we discovered that, in 1997, he was convicted of cocaine possession in the Circuit Court of Baltimore City." I would recast the choppy sentence and leave at least two commas out: "During the defendant's testimony, we discovered that in 1997 he had been convicted in the Circuit Court of Baltimore City of possession of cocaine."
Constant Reader in Seattle also loves the surplus comma. A photo identified "the late Bob Hope, who for decades entertained U.S. troops overseas." Constant Reader would have edited the caption to read, "the late Bob Hope, who, for decades, entertained U.S. troops... " Aaargh!

In "The Copyeditor's Handbook" (University of California Press), editor Amy Einsohn offers sensible rules for the comma, but she cuts us some slack. After we have mastered the do's and don'ts, she says, "we need to ask ourselves whether the presence or absence of a comma will best serve the writer's purpose and the reader's needs." In my view, that says it all. Or: In my view that says it all. Your sentence, your comma, your call.

"Question, two men starving to death decide to eat their hair like spaghetti. Is that funny?"
"Hmmm, well, it depends on if by funny you want to make people laugh." -, "The Cat's Meow"
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Bill Bonde Quoted an interesting article from:
http://www.sunherald.com/mld/thesunherald/living/9347623.htm Using the comma correctly is often a matter of tempo A writer's ear is essential to a writer's ... the flag is red, white, and blue. If we're marching briskly, it's red, white and blue. Comma, in; comma out.

I see the point, but it is not carried out to the ultimate conclusion; that is, the sentence, when marching briskly, should describe the flag as being red white 'n blue. No commas at all, innit?
Besides, what's the comma doing in that last quoted sentence? Typo?
Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
http://www.sunherald.com/mld/thesunherald/living/9347623.htm Using the comma correctly is often a matter of tempo Not long ago I ended one of my scholarly dissertations with an admonitory word: "Let us think upon these things, and go in peace."

"Absolutely wrong!" cried a teacher in North Carolina. A reader in Seattle was aghast: "You have torn asunder two independent clauses!"

Well, at least we know that that reader was wrong. The sentence can be viewed as a single independent clause witha compound predicate or a compound sentence with two independent clauses, the first independent clause hortatory and the second imperative (a bit clumsy that way, to be sure, but not downright illegitimate). Taking the former view, one could then argue that the compound predicate had been torn asunder. And since I prefer the former view, I would omit the comma.
And speaking of sundering independent clauses: I am one who prefers to insert a comma before a coordinating conjunction (especially "and") when it joins two independent clauses. Frequently the comma is necessary to make clear that a given noun or pronoun or phrase is the subject of the second clause and not part of a compound direct object in the first. Imagine, for example, reading: "Quentin Tarantino is a great admirer of the films of Sam Peckinpah and M. Night Shyamalan," making mental note that Tarantino admires Shyamalan, and then noticing that the sentence hasn't ended. The full sentence is: "Quentin Tarantino is a great admirer of the films of Sam Peckinpah and M. Night Shyamalan similarly admires Michael Mann." Put a comma before "and" and there's no problem. Omit it and you sow confusion.
"Clarity, clarity, clarity."
But then I have already been shown on another thread to be an ignoramus about commas. So please ignore me.
(remainder, though interesting, snipped)

Bob Lieblich
Comma fault
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
In "The Copyeditor's Handbook" (University of California Press), editor Amy Einsohn offers sensible rules for the comma, but she cuts ... my view, that says it all. Or: In my view that says it all. Your sentence, your comma, your call.

In a well written sentence, the reader will notice neither the presence nor absence of commas. It is only when you have to read a sentence more than once, that you find yourself thinking about commas. Of course, in some newsgroups, like AUE, the comma police can write endless threads about one comma.

Rob Bannister
In a well written sentence, the reader will notice neither the presence nor absence of commas. It is only when you have to read a sentence more than once, that you find yourself thinking about commas.

Like that one, you mean?
Remarkably, that gentle valedictory provoked a flood of letters. (Well, eight letters.) In a sense it was much adieu about nothing,

Perhaps he means Much ado about nothing. Adieu is a French word use to salute someone whom one expects never to see again. This mistake does not speak highly of his writing ability. Overall, the author appears to be trying to "write better" and far above his natural level. Comma placement is the least of his problems.
They were appalled by the comma - that is, the little squiggle after "things." "Absolutely wrong!" cried a teacher in North Carolina. A reader in Seattle was aghast: "You have torn asunder two independent clauses!"

If they are two independent clauses, then they can't be torn asunder by a comma between them, can they?
These people have too much time on their hands.
Commas to me indicate natural pauses. The more careful the pronunciation aloud of the sentence would be, the more generous the use of commas to indicate this, such that a formal style or intention might warrant a greater use of commas than an informal one, even for the same text.
In any case, I don't fret over commas today, nor do I pay much heed to those who would have me do so.

Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Remarkably, that gentle valedictory provoked a flood of letters. (Well, eight letters.) In a sense it was much adieu about nothing,

Perhaps he means Much ado about nothing. Adieu is a French word use to salute someone whom one expects never to see again.

If you would have read the entire posting, you would have caught the word play of "much adieu about nothing".
Included in the lines you snipped were:
"Not long ago I ended one of my scholarly dissertations with an admonitory word: "Let us think upon these things, and go in peace."

Remarkably, that gentle valedictory provoked a flood of letters. (Well,
eight letters.) In a sense it was much adieu about nothing, for my correspondents were not appalled by the dissertation."

His adieu was met without ado.
This mistake does not speak highly of his writing ability. Overall, the author appears to be trying to "write better" and far above his natural level. Comma placement is the least of his problems.

His writing ability far surpasses your reading ability.
If you would have read the entire posting, you would have caught the word play of "much adieu about nothing".

I think you are giving him too much credit.
His adieu was met without ado.

How clever.
His writing ability far surpasses your reading ability.

My reading ability is excellent, and I know good writing when I see it. I did not see it here.

Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
http://www.sunherald.com/mld/thesunherald/living/9347623.htm Using the comma correctly is often a matter of tempo Not long ago I ended one of my scholarly ... wrong!" cried a teacher in North Carolina. A reader in Seattle was aghast: "You have torn asunder two independent clauses!"

What about the "adieu"?

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
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