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Editor's Notes #42, Learn to use commas with conjunctions
June 30, 2007

Some punctuation has been added
to facilitate understanding.

--J.M. Millington

In this issue:

1. Comma Use #2

2. Why English is So Difficult

1. Comma Use #2

In this issue we continue with the uses of the comma, the most frequently misused piece of punctuation.

To understand this use of the comma, you need to know what a conjunction is. A conjunction is a word that joins words, phrases, or clauses together.

There are different types of conjunctions. That's a topic for another day. The one you need to know about to understand today's use of the comma is the coordinating conjunction. The coordinating conjunctions in English are and, but, or, not, for, so, and yet.

There are grammatical discussions about which are truly coordinating conjunctions and which are not, but if the word joins two equal grammatical bits, treat it like a coordinating conjunction.

The other thing you need to know to understand the second use of the comma is what a compound sentence is. It's a sentence made of two independent clauses (Think sentences.) joined by a coordinating conjunction -- and now you know what a coordinating conjunction is.

The second comma use is to separate clauses of a compound sentence joined by a coordinating conjunction. The comma comes just before the coordinating conjunction.

Examples: I cooked my own dinner on the stove, and I washed my own dishes in the kitchen sink.

I hate the taste of lima beans, but I plan to grown them in my garden this year.

If the whole compound sentence is so short that it can be read in one "eyeful," it's OK to leave out the comma.

Example: I cooked it and they liked it.

2. Why English is So Difficult

Someone sent this to me ages ago and it's been languishing in a file longing to come out to offer you a smile.

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  13. They were too close to the door to close it.
  14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  18. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

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