In Regard to the Comma

September 16, 2020

The thing about punctuation is that, more often than not, it's taken for granted. Ignored entirely, which is disappointing, or so overused, it completely distracts the reader and quickly alters its tone of the article or chapter of a story. For example, as you read through this blog, chances are you're assuming that the punctuation is correct. That the commas will cause you to pause, and breathe the question mark will increase the inflection in your voice at the end of the sentence, and the colon will bring you to a dead stop and then inform you of groundbreaking fanfare and essential facts! We snuck in that exclamation point to keep the excitement rolling! For perfect punctuation every time, why not purchase a subscription to Grammarly.

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Punctuation Ignorance

There aren’t many authors that break the punctuation rule, but those writers that have purposefully omitted the significant pauses, inflections, and emotions through lack of punctuation are famous for some of the best literary works in print. We aren’t recommending this form of grammar expression, but after reading several of these works, it’s clear just how much good grammar and punctuation are to tell a compelling story.

  • Ulysses, by Jame Joyce - 2 full stops, 1 comma, and maybe another mark or two is all that accompanies this classic story of, recognized as one of the greatest works ever published.
  • The Road, by Cormac McCarthy - to call punctuation “weird little marks” on The Oprah Winfrey Show raised some eyebrows. However, in this novel, sentences and paragraphs about a father and son traveling cross-country after a nuclear holocaust force the reader to find the nuances and dramatic elements in a story utterly void of punctuation.
  • Blindness, by Jose Saramago - punctuation for this author is a “complete distraction.”
  • The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz - this work is an example of omitting punctuation to blend thinking and speaking. Diaz challenges the reader to determine when a character is doing either without quotation marks or italicized words.
  • Lectures in America, by Gertrude Stein - even during a modernist literature movement, famed author Stein considered the comma a “poor period,” noting that a reader should know when to pause and take a breath. The comma was “shunned” in her writing altogether. 

While these literary works are ingenious examples of well-crafted stories and provide education and evoke emotions, as a reader, chapters and passages can take several readings to digest what precisely the author and story's intentions are trying to convey. Picking up any of these classics is a great way to train yourself about the importance of using punctuation in your writing. 

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It may be easier to write a paper or article informally because you feel that you are expressing yourself in your own words, and the way you speak will drive your message and keep the audience's attention. Even so, whatever you write needs to be edited and read and re-read for inconsistencies, misspelled words, and proper punctuation. It is easy to realize that the message you're trying to convey may not be apparent in the editing process. The Grammarly filter helps you formulate your thoughts and shows you where to place punctuation, so your reader is clued into your opinions' emotional nuances, the data you're sharing, and that is what makes for a great story. Consider Grammarly, your "AI-powered writing assistant."

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