Thursday, October 7, 2010

Self-Editing Tips — Comma Review Part 4

Today we'll talk about the last two most common uses for commas. Yea!!! LOL Commas are difficult to understand, but these rules today are pretty straightforward.

First, when do you use a comma when you have two or more adjectives? Adjectives are those words that describe or modify a noun. I could get all technical and tell you that adjectives come in different form (and they do), but I won't. Even though if you know the forms you will also know where to put the commas.

Thankfully, there's a quick and easy shortcut to all that technical stuff.

Here it is: IF you can put the word and between the adjectives in your sentence, THEN you can replace and with a comma.

 Examples (taken from the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, 6.33):

Shelly had proved a faithful, sincere friend.
(. . . a faithful and sincere friend.)

It is going to be a long, hot, exhausting summer.
(. . . long and hot and exhausting summer)

She has a young, good-looking friend.
(. . . a young and good-looking friend)


She has many young friends.
(many and young friends doesn't work)

He has rejected traditional religious affiliations.
(traditional and religious affiliations puts a different meaning to the intent of the sentence, so it doesn't work here, either)

The second use of the comma we're going to look at is the comma used in dates and addresses that stand alone as well as in sentences.

Dates: comma between the day and year (May 10, 2010) but NOT between month and year (May 2010)
Addresses: between the city and state (Denver, Colorado)

Dates and time: after a.m./p.m. if in the middle of the sentence; after day if the date is given after it (Saturday, May 4, 1997), after the year if in the middle of a sentence
Addresses: between city and state and after state if in the middle of the sentence

The show will move into Springfield, Massachusetts, at about 8 p.m., Saturday, May 4, 1997, for this gala event.

I hope these guidelines for commas are a help to you in your writing.

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