Friday, March 13, 2009


The first step in confronting any addiction is to admit that you have a problem. Okay. Here it goes. Deep breath. addicted to commas.

This addiction has destroyed relationships between words and ideas. So many misunderstandings have occurred because I can't control my right pinky while I type. So much red ink has been spilled trying to correct the mistakes caused by this condition.

I think part of the problem is my education. Grammar was only vaguely touched on during my schooling. If it wasn't for my older siblings growing up with Schoolhouse Rock I probably wouldn't know the difference between an adjective and an adverb. Since my schooling didn't really delve into the elements of speech it would seem to follow that the elements of punctuation would not be covered either. Periods and question marks and exclamation points are self-explanatory but internal punctuation was kind of glossed over. I didn't achieve a functional understanding of colons and semi-colons until my junior year of college.

But commas seem so easy to use. I think part of the issue is that I tend to write in a conversational tone. As a result every pause in thought is highlighted by a comma. In that last sentence I would want to put a comma between "result" and "every" because if I speak the sentence out loud I would pause between those two words. The same with "loud" and "I". I think this idea was reinforced at a board meeting a couple years ago. Reading over the minutes of a prior meeting I came across a line where I was speaking and every one of my pauses had a comma. It was obvious that I was thinking as I was talking because there were 8 commas in one sentence.

I should educate myself on this subject. My fear is that the guides will be of the Eats Shoots and Leaves snobbery instead of a Punctuation for Dummies guide. But writing this post without a single comma is giving me the DTs. I am not joking.

Edit: You can see an example of my comma problems here. I am not above shameless self promotion. You should go this blog anyway because it is a fun read. Enjoy!

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