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Friday, August 29, 2008

A Dozen Uses for Commas, Part 4

Last week we talked about using commas with introductory elements (for the rest of the series, click here). As promised, this week we're going to look at when NOT to use them with introductory elements or psuedo-introductory elements.

First, a comma should not be used if the introductory prepositional phrase is less than five words:

Under the pile the one page she was looking for remained hidden.

Over dinner they talked about some work-at-home opportunities.

Secondly, sometimes a phrase may seem like an introductory phrase at first glance (or first listen!), when in fact it's not. The key is to remember never to separate the main subject of the sentence from the verb/action/predicate.

Waking up super early to work is definitely the hardest part of my current schedule.

Waking up super early to work, she needed a cup of coffee to get going.

Do you see the difference between these two sentences? In the first the psuedo-introductory element is actually the subject of the sentence, and it cannot be separated from "is" with a comma. In the second, it's an introductory – and nonessential – element.

Let's look at one more:

Pursuing a career as a work-at-home transcriptionist offers an amazing opportunity for many people.

Pursuing a career as a work-at-home transcriptionist, she was confident that she could earn what she needed to stay home with her kids.


1 Comment:

MGibson said...

Thanks so much for this series on commas. I tend to overuse them myself.

The blog is a great idea and you ladies have done a great job with it. I look forward to getting it in my email every day.

Keep up the good work!