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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Dozen Uses for Commas, Part 9

This week, in Part 9 of our comma series, we're going to look at a common misuse of commas. Because we've stressed the importance of using commas between two independent clauses to prevent run-on sentences in your transcripts, it's easy to overuse commas with conjunctions in sentences. However, the important part of the rule is that a commas should precede a conjunction when the clauses on both sides of the conjunction are independent or could stand alone as complete sentences.

Transcribing at home is a privilege and a blessing, and working as an independent contractor is a huge responsibility.

Transcribing at home is a privilege and a blessing. Working as an independent contractor is a huge responsibility.


Because both of these sentences make sense when on their own, we include the comma before the conjunction when joining them together.

On the other hand, sometimes a sentence includes two verbs (or actions) but is what's known as a compound predicate. Without getting too detailed, the bottom line is that the second half of these sentences do not make sense without the first, and therefore there should NOT be a comma between the two verbs or verb phrases.

INCORRECT: I am privileged to work at home, and blessed to have this opportunity.

Because "Blessed to have this opportunity" simply does not make sense when written by itself, the comma in the above example is incorrect and should be omitted.

CORRECT: I am privileged to work at home and blessed to have this opportunity.

A few more examples:

INCORRECT: I work at home as a general transcriptionist, and contract with large transcription companies.

CORRECT: I work at home as a general transcriptionist and contract with large transcription companies.



INCORRECT: I love to eat frozen grapes, and add them to punch.

CORRECT: I love to eat frozen grapes and add them to punch.



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