Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We take a break from our now-regular ranting...

...to pose a question.

Are you a heavy or a light user of the comma?

25 comments:

Sarah Laurenson said...

Hmm, let's see, maybe, but, maybe not... Heavy!

pacatrue said...

Well, I guess, if I think, um, a lot about it, whatever it is, then, yeah, sure, it would depend on, um, the circumstances? ,

I try to keep the commas down when copy editing, but I do find myself putting them into replace more disruptive things like dashes and parentheses. Also, it's common for people to put the end comma in a parenthetical phrase and leave out the first one, so I'm always sticking that puppy in. And Bob's your uncle.

(Just learned the phrase and I'm trying to apply "bob's your uncle" more in my daily life.)

fairyhedgehog said...

It depends, I use commas for run-on sentences and whenever I pause for breath, then I have to go back and sort them out. (Like I just didn't.)

I also tend to put a full stop before 'but' and 'and' then have to go back and change it.

So, a heavy user trying to be lighter I would say.

JaneyV said...

I often completely forget to use them. Then when I read over what I've written, I over-compensate.

Precie said...

Heavy. Because I tend to write long complex and/or compound sentences. But I do try to make sure I'm only using commas where they actually belong.

When I'm editing, I find people don't use them nearly as much as they should.

Aerin said...

light - they signal to me I'm creating run-on sentences, or rambling, or otherwise not paying attention....

what were we talking about?

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Most stories in my slush are too light.

ChrisEldin said...

Ha!!
One of my edits--I overuse the comma.
I like the comma. It's curved and gentle.

Whirlochre said...

Heavier than most, I think.

McKoala said...

Oh, this is fun! There is a correct answer. I haven't seen it yet...

McKoala said...

Hint: it's somewhat of a trick question.

Second hint: one of you is almost correct.

blogless troll said...

That's the one with the two dots?

fairyhedgehog said...

A trick question? Now you're teasing us.

McKoala said...

Tee hee. You won't be happy.

Sarah Laurenson said...

You mean we have to think?

Sarah Laurenson said...

If I don't put so much sugar in my tea, I might become a lighter user.

Whirlochre said...

Never have I found myself to be so annoyingly vexed by a marsupial clad in tartan.

Nope. Can't fit any commas into that.

Whirlochre said...

Never have I found myself to be so annoyingly vexed by a marsupial clad in tartan.

Nope. Can't fit any commas into that.

laughingwolf said...

judicious! ;) lol

what irks me a lot, overuse of 'that', like it's some kind of filler! grrrrrr

pacatrue said...

Are you a heavy, or a light user of the comma?
Are you a heavy or a light user of the comma?
Are you a heavy, or a light, user of the comma?

You apparently are a light user, McK.

McKoala said...

You know, Paca, I did debate the use of the comma in my question, which makes it all the more ironic that the answer is apparently...'There is no such thing as a heavy or light user of the comma, only a correct user of the comma.'

Annoying, isn't it? Sorry.

I think Precie came closest with...'Heavy. Because I tend to write long complex and/or compound sentences. But I do try to make sure I'm only using commas where they actually belong.' If it were a competition, you'd have won, Precie!

However, I think Paca has shown that the 'correct' answer is debatable.

McKoala said...

BTW, Paca, while we're debating their use, I would have put commas around 'apparently' in that last sentence of yours. Looks like you're a light user too...

Robin S. said...

I'd say I am an eccentric and personal comma user. Not on purpose.

pacatrue said...

I don't see how it's possible for for there to be only one correct way to mark an entire language with commas, even if you pretend there's a well-defined object called a language. Commas are used to express what the writer is saying. If one adds commas around "or a light" it's a parenthetical. If you don't, it's just a compound adjective. So you can certainly have the same string of words and have more than one correct placement of commas, because more than one interpretation can be placed on many strings of words.

Now, one might be able to say that there is only one correct way to use commas based upon the writer's intended interpretation of the sentence. If the writer intends something to be parenthetical, then it should have commas, and if she doesn't intend that, then the phrase doesn't need commas. So there's a better argument for only one correct comma placement in this scenario. However, that doesn't help the editor out, since they don't know the author's intentions. Moreover, what if the author doesn't know their intention or doesn't mind both interpretations?

sylvia said...

Heavy. But, I've dropped the habit of the serial comma (in front of ands) which isn't used in the UK and I would never put them around the or of your question! :)

Correct certainly varies though - UK and US have the serial comma issue and German commas are heavily used (and required) in a way that drives me crazy.