The Only Grammar Handbook You Hope You'll Never Need: Article 4

October 9, 2010
By Weatherby SILVER, Newtown, Pennsylvania
Weatherby SILVER, Newtown, Pennsylvania
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
~ The Declaration of Independence

Article 4: Commas Make for An Impressive Show
Envision yourself twelve years from now: world’s largest architecture corporation, and you’re sending the resume that could land you a place with the big guys. You’re just rushing to fill in the spaces for accomplishment, but you almost forget one very important thing: commas in your addresses and dates. Can you imagine? Graduate of Harvard and veteran of several interior design businesses, and you incorrectly place the comma in February 18th, 1987? What a pity… But not to fear! The Grammar Police are here!
So let’s go back to that vision: you’re meticulously skimming over the resume, checking for every detail to be perfect, for you know perfectionism is a disease. You come to the cover letter. You’ve assailed the Internet trying to find the perfect model. They teach you the whole shebang, but did they bother to mention in a sentence, a comma comes after a year? Or that in a mere statement, there’s no such thing? We think not. But, yes, it’s true. Here are the guidelines on how to properly manipulate commas in salutations and closings in writing, dates, and addresses:

You would like your signature to be dramatic, like Hancock’s. Maybe it is, but wouldn’t it just be a total waste if you forgot to put a comma after the farewell? Farewells include ‘sincerely,’ ‘very truly yours,’ etc.
Check it out:
Rufus Barnsley III
Very truly yours,
Meredith Wilson

Of course, the greeting is the first thing your future employer sees. We can’t have some lousy, bare –minimum greeting, now can we? When you have a greeting, put a comma, and continue on with the letter.
Check it out:
Dear Mrs. Wessington,
Good evening gentlemen of The Groundhog-Cricket Table, (In a resume, you probably wouldn’t put ‘good evening,’ but that’s a matter of etiquette and an entirely different story)

In the corner of your cover letter, you will probably have a date there. This is the spot where most people fall through. Since it is not in a sentence, you don’t need a comma after the year, but you do need one after the month and day and number.
Check it out:
In a sentence:
“I began at Swintel & Weimen, Inc. on July 14, 1996, where I was appointed clerk.” Notice the comma after the year, 1996, and the number, 14.
In a statement:
July 4th, 1776: Notice that there is no comma after the year, 1776, but there is one after the number, 4.

Another vital component of your resume is the address. Like dates, people are just inept at it… unless you read our book… Anyway, there is some slight confusion among the general public where commas go in addresses. Where the comma goes depends on the format of the address, but there is always a comma after the city, regardless of the format.
Check it out:
Format 1:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500.
We like to term this one as the letter format that you would use on the envelope and up in the corner. Notice: Comma after the city, but not the house number, and no comma between the state (or in this case, district) and zip code.

Format 2:
We used to fill out on our tax returns ‘White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20500,’ and were very humored.
This is the sentence format. Notice the comma after the zip code, street address, and name.

The next element, while it does not necessarily pertain to cover letters, is also very infamous with English teachers for the common mistakes made by students in its usage. In quotations, the comma and other punctuation symbols (specifically the ones that close sentences) always go inside the quotation marks.
Check it out:
“I have an idea: why don’t you come down to Earth and help us clean this mess up?,” griped Katherine with sheer venom in her voice.

The author's comments:
The fifth installation.

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