by Sandy Tritt
The comma appears to be a harmless little fellow, but
don't let appearances deceive you. Sure, the little guy never shouts,
never declares, never questions, never even finishes a sentence, for that
matter, but that doesn't mean he holds no power. In fact, he is the
hardest working of all the punctuation marks, the only one often appearing
more than once in a single sentence. He holds the power to change the
meaning of a sentence and to disrupt the flow of prose. Therefore, isn't
it time to give the little guy his due and quit misunderstanding him?
Here's his M.O. --
- Use a comma to separate the clauses of a compound
sentence connected by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor,
for, so and yet). The comma is placed before the
coordinating conjunction, not after. Examples:
- The students ate spaghetti for dinner, but no one
cleaned his plate.
- I gave three books to John, and John gave them to
- However, do not use a comma before and,
but, or and nor when they link pairs of words, phrases or
elements other than main clauses. Examples:
- The students ate spaghetti for dinner and cake for
- I gave three books to John and four to Nancy.
- The trick here is to recognize if the conjunction
separates a main clause (or major thought), or if it simply links pairs
of words or phrases.
- Also, the comma may be omitted in short compound
sentences when the connection between the clauses is close, such as:
- Justin stood in the corner and he watched.
- If the sentence is clearly understandable without the
comma, it is probably okay to omit it.
- The comma separates two or more adjectives modifying
the same noun if and could be used between them without changing
the meaning. Example:
- Janine pushed her long, straight hair out of her
- However, do not use a comma between unequal
adjectives or when an adjective modifies another adjective (instead of
- His coal black hair glistened in the brilliant
- The test is whether and can be substituted for
- The comma also separates the items in a list or a
- Jasmine visited the park, the museum, the court
house, and the historical hotel on the last day of her vacation.
- Note that the comma before the last item in the
series (the one directly before and) is optional. Also, note that
no comma appears before the first element in the list (the park), nor
after the last element in the list (the historical hotel).
- The comma is used in setting off transitional
expressions (however, regardless, of course and so on) from the
rest of the sentence. Examples:
- The weight of the ball, however, was greater than
the strength of the boy.
- Of course, we could have eaten after they arrived.
- Did he, after all, sleep in the den?
- The comma is used with introductory elements:
- No, he didn't wear a hat.
- Well, that was the just the beginning of my
- When the bell rings, the students race through the
- A comma sets off long phrases that precede a
- Before we could call Great Aunt Mary, we had to
locate her phone number.
- After listening to the forty-five minute sermon,
the children were in no mood for lectures.
Confused yet? Great! There are even more rules to
- The comma sets off words or phrases that rename
- John, my oldest cousin, loves to garden.
- Parkersburg, the third largest city in West
Virginia, has a population of 38,000.
- The girl, who had cried the day before, played
happily with the other toddlers.
- However, do not use a comma if the added information
is essential to the meaning of the sentence, such as:
- The song "Unchained Melody" melts my heart.
- People who dream in color are thought to be
- The girl who had cried the day before made
friends; the girl who had been friendly sat quietly alone.
- The test is whether the sentence makes since if the
renamed noun is removed from the sentence.
- A comma can indicate the omission of a word or words:
- To err is human; to forgive, divine.
- A comma is used to set off a word of direct address:
- Aunt Mary, this is my friend, Nathan.
- People, don't let this happen to you.
- Thank you, Wilma, for teaching me about commas.
- A comma is used set off a quotation from a dialogue
- He said, "I didn't do it."
- "I don't believe it," Jason replied, "but maybe if
you prove it, I will."
- "I don't believe it, either," Anna said. "Prove
- A comma sets off a tag question from the rest of the
- I didn't see it there, did you?
- That's the best movie of the year, isn't it?
- A comma also can be used to set off any sentence
element that might be misunderstood if the comma were not used, such as:
- To me, Millie would always be my best friend.
- Some time ago, Roxanne decided to become a dancer.
- And finally, a comma is used to set off a city from a
state, the year from a full date, a series of four or more numbers, and
to set off titles and degress from surnames and from the rest of a
- My children were born in Winneconne, Wisconsin.
- My oldest daughter was born on November 21, 1986.
- I wish my husband made $625,000 a year.
- My husband's full name is Sherden C. Tritt, Jr.,
although he goes by "Butch."
As you can see, the innocuous little fellow known as the
comma can be quite cantankerous. It's no wonder that comma usage is the
number one mistake I see on manuscripts I edit. Study this little
guy--once you've mastered him, you've accomplished a great feat. Good
Want more great tips and techniques? Our
Inspiration for Writers
Tips and Techniques Workbook is now available. Expanded tips, more
topics, reproducible worksheets, exercises to practice what you learn and
much more--check it out! Free shipping anywhere in the United States.
(c) copyright 1999 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. November be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
Go Back in Time!...
our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook
III. You'll become a true believer. Visit...
is dedicated to the memory of David C. Cook III.
This Just In Ė From Paul the Apostle
By Kurt Schuller
inspired work recreating
1,056 unique visitors on Friday, September 27. This is the first time our
daily unique visitors count has gone over 1,000.
Rena Williams - Fiction Editor
welcome Rena Williams,
Fiction/Nonfiction editor of
AuthorMe.com. Rena is a graduate of
the American Christian Institute.
After graduating, she enrolled in Long
Ridge Writers School.
written articles and short stories,
and is currently working on a
novel titled, "Cinderella, Not a Fairy
Tale Anymore," which is soon to be
Rais Neza Boneza - Country Editor -
Praise that Rais has
been lifted from her oppression as a
refugee poet, and now has volunteered
to serve as a Country Editor for
AuthorMe.com. She will review all
manuscripts received from Uganda.
AuthorMe's Newest e-book ...
Temperament is the God-given, inborn
nature of each person determining how
he or she interacts and reacts with
people, circumstances, environments,
situations, and the world.
Temperament is who we are on the
inside, what the Bible calls ďthe
inner manĒ (or woman, God is not
talking gender here). The National
Christian Counselors Association, in
the early 1980s, conducted seven years
of research involving 5,000 people in
regards to temperament. The research
is still continuing.
It is now possible, through the use of
the Temperament Analysis Profile
Report (renamed the Arno Profile
System in honor of Drs. Arno who were
intimately involved in this research),
to determine a personís temperament
and their temperament needs accurately
When a personís temperament needs are
being met by healthy and godly means,
stress, anxiety and the problems
related to stress and anxiety are
Some of the problems directly
connected to stress and anxiety are:
dissatisfaction, loneliness, fear,
frustration, anger, marriage and
family problems, poor work
performance, exhaustion and
inter/intra personal conflicts.
Even the American
Medical Association has stated that
80% of physical ailment is stress
related. Dr. Rick is convinced
Temperament Therapy is Godís gift to
the church to help people in the area
Temperament Therapy is Bible based and
Christ-centered. He is also convinced
that relationship problems are all
temperament rooted and has yet to find
a problem, great or small, that cannot
be solved with Temperament Therapy.
Dr. Rick wrote God Created You: A
Guide To Temperament Therapy to
provide information in a fun, easy to
understand, non-clinical format so
people could understand who God
created them to be, how God created
others and how to have happy, healthy
relationships with the rest of Godís
creatures (people; yes, God created
them the way they are also, just as He
did you). He is convinced this book
will help anyone who has any
relationship (at work or home or play)
to be the person God intended them to
be and to enjoy happier, healthier
CREATED YOU by Dr. Rick Martin
A guide to Temperament Therapy.
Purchase your copy now! Just $15. Click
Lynette's creative Writing Website
(type both lines in one)
Read... Move Over Maharishi
By Dee Landerman
An ordinary housewife is catapulted into the unknown. For over twenty-five years with one foot in the other dimension, experiences visions, apparitions, and visits from the divine. As a Christian Intuitive with the ability to see into a personís spirit, she experienced first hand where the departed go.
She shares her life
openly with you, with the intent to
give answers and direction for you to
find power, peace and acceptance in
your own life. Dee reveals the ĎHeart
Of Godí about organized religion and
todayís churches, sharing Godís
concerns and desires for America and
About the Author
Accepting Godís terms, Dee Landerman
committed her life to Jesus Christ,
in exchange for the abuse and misery
she was enduring and found herself
the recipient of divine visitations,
messages and visions. Teaching
Sunday school, teen classes and a
womenís group., she was always
guided by the Lord with lessons and
Click here for more info...
You Can't Put a Good Novel
by Rena Williams
I would like to share a novel with you that has two
viewpoints. One, itís a page a turner, and two, you can learn from this
great author. The novel is ďAmethyst HeartĒ by Penelope Stokes.
The novelís plot is based on the history the of Dr.
Salas Nobel, and how the Nobelís estate was inherited. Dr. Nobel resigns
has a personal doctor of a plantation owner to practice medicine on those
who were less fortunate. After resigning, the town turned against him, but
the ones he treated showed appreciation by using their gifts of carpentry
to build him a home.
The setting of the novel begins in the present and
then employs the narratorís flashbacks to relate the Noble familyís
history. The estate is passed down to Dr. Nobelís daughter Amethyst.
Because of his bad spending habits, Conrad,
Amethystís son attempts cunningly to sell the Nobelís estate by claiming
Amethyst is old and senile. Amethyst sees past his plan, and plots to
fight against his effort. Of course, Amethyst defeats Conrad at the end of
the novel, but not without obstacles.
After reading this novel, I realized the importance
of knowing your familyís history, and valued the things that has been
passed down from my ancestors.
I also learned different techniques while reading
Stokeís book. Such has action, narration, scene and structure, character
emotions and much more. After all, we do learn from other authors.
While reading this novel, Iím sure youíll enjoy it
and learn while reading.
Instructor Name: Lynette Rees [Dip. Couns]
What is Writing Therapy?
Writing Therapy is a way of connecting with your emotions via pen and
paper, or the keyboard. I devised this course after studying the research of
James W Pennebaker, Head of Psychology, University of Texas. Pennebaker's
research shows that writing helps to lift the mood of depressed people. He
also found that students who wrote about how they were feeling coped better
with their exams.
I have devised 9 lessons in all - taking you from what writing therapy is
to covering the basic emotions we feel such as anger, grief, love, fear etc.
I've also added a lesson on dreams and how to interpret yours, and a bonus
lesson on creative writing. Each lesson has an appropriate assignment to
match the lesson's content.
Write your way to emotional health!
This is Dianne Ochiltree's
site for children, parents,
teachers and writers for
young readers. Dianne is an
author of books for young
readers (birth to teenage)
and she is also a children's
book reviewer. She's been
writing professionally for
over 25 years---about 18
years in public
and the last 7 years as a
children's writer. Dianne
has two books published to
date, with Scholastic and
with Simon & Schuster.
http://tritt.wirefire.com The Inspiration for Writers website offers help and encouragement to writers of all levels. Tips and Techniques give practical advice about frequent writing blunders. The Writer's Prayer, inspirational quotes, and essays about the writing life add insight and inspiration. The Fiction Showcase offers short stories for the reader's enjoyment. And, for those serious about improving their writing skills, manuscript critiques and coaching services are available. Visit http://tritt.wirefire.com today!
- Limited time special, one cent per word. Just mention Publishing
New Writers Newsletter (November, 2002).
Critiques by Sandy Tritt
- Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach.
Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the
problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose.
More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish
establishing long-term relationships with other writers.
- Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the
"constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to
destroy your confidence.
- Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and
suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.
- Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know
where your strengths are.
- Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character
development or other areas that could be strengthened.
- Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will
include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue,
special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view
and any other areas particular to your work.
- If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your
areas of weakness.
- Answer any questions you have via email.
- Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org
(See Sandy's article above.)