Whether you’d rather be a comma than a full stop, or vice versa, it’s important to understand these two most common punctuation marks so that you can wield the correct power over your reader.

Aside from their functions in punctuation, using them is a signpost to your reader of when – and for how long – you want them to pause.

When people don’t use them properly, or not enough, their prose – or indeed poetry – doesn’t flow properly and can be frustrating to wade through.

When I insert a comma, I want you to pause at the end of that clause, at that precise point, so that you can begin the next.  When I insert a full stop, I want you to pause a little longer. That’s because I might want to start a new sentence or a new train of thought.

Which is easier to read? a) The cat, which has a name but that’s not important, sat on the mat. b) The cat which has a name but that’s not important sat on the mat. c) The cat which has a name but that’s not important, sat on the mat. Why, a) of course!

I’ve seen folk write: The cat, sat on the mat. Why would anyone either want you to pause there or think it’s correct punctuation to put a comma right after the subject, unless you’re introducing a clause which stands on its own right – witness option a) above?

When you know where to put your comma, your reader knows how to read your stuff, simple as that. Full stop.

 

 

Advertisements