The Only Grammar Handbook You Hope You'll Never Need: Article 3

October 9, 2010
Article 3: Commas Invade the Series and Put Interrupters
In Their Place
The most popularly known use of the comma is their work in the field of separating lists, particularly specializing in organization, less confusion, and the prevention of run-on sentences. Think of it as this: sente n, c, and e. A debate has raged on between scholars as to whether a comma should be put between the second to last item and the FANBOY. For the case of this handbook, we advise you to err on the side of caution, and put a period there. The usage of commas to separate items in a list pertains to a quantity of three or more.
In other terms: Sente n, c, and e, or rather an independent clause broken up into chunks.
Check it out: “…That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Here that the list is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” From ‘that’ to ‘are’ is the ‘sent-.’ Notice that Jefferson followed our advice and put a comma before the FANBOY.
Article 3.5 Interrupters are Put in Their Place
When nonessential information barges into the middle of a sentence, unannounced and rude as possible, it is considered an interrupter (sort of like you when you interrupt your parent’s conversation with their business partner on the phone) In addition, if you look from another perspective, it can cut down a run-off sentence. Anyway, when this group of words interrupts, it of the utmost importance that commas be put on both sides. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t make sense.
In other terms: Sent, interrupter, ence.
Check it out: Let us use our previous example: “All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Here, what is between the commas- “that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”- is the interrupter (but we don’t really think that Thomas Jefferson meant that to be an interrupter, because that is definitely essential information)





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