By SHERRI RUGGIERI
Punctuation problems can damage a person’s credibility. Many writers use a comma in a sentence whenever there is a pause. Sometimes, this can be true. For example: If you read your sentence aloud, then this would be when you would take a breath. However, this idea has led to the overuse of commas.
Rule: A comma is properly used at the beginning of a sentence after an introductory phrase.
Writers tend to insert commas in ways “that” interfere with the clarity of their ideas in a sentence.
Rule: Not before the word “that” (essential information) but before the word “which” (provides additional information that is not essential to the main idea).
The “test” to determine the need to use two commas is performed by lifting the phrase, within the two commas, out of the sentence. Does the sentence make sense or become nonsense?
The comma is like the yield sign when driving. It can be tricky and requires judgment. Experience is the key to success.
Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.
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