Posted by: episystechpubs | March 10, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Comma Questions

Dear Editrix,

I’m wondering if you can answer these questions for me about commas.

§ It has been driving me nuts lately that people have been putting a comma after “but.” For example, “I was going to go for a run but, then it started raining.” It is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Is there any case in which putting a comma after “but” makes sense?

§ Is a comma needed before “too”? For example, “I asked about that, too.” I see this used inconsistently.

Sincerely,

Miss B.

Dear Miss B.,

What interesting questions! Let’s start with that comma after the conjunction. Nails on a chalkboard is right! It looks like someone remembered a little something about grammar class, but it wasn’t the correct something. What we have here are two independent clauses joined by a conjunction. While we often see these clauses joined by and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet, the comma comes before the conjunction. For example: I was walking to the store, but then I decided to ride my unicycle instead.

As for your second question, I am from the school that uses a comma with the word too when it is being used in place of also. I just always figured that was a rule. When I did a little digging; however, I discovered that it is less of a rule and more a matter of style. While many of us learned this as rule, it seems that commas are not required in these instances:

§ I, too, have decided to become a basket weaver. (Though the commas in this case provide emphasis.)

§ Bob said his brother resembled Al Capone, too.

I’d still include the commas, but that’s just me. You are free to forego them if your style is different.

Editrix

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