Grammar Woes: Commas (Part 4)

Grammar Woes: 
Commas (Part 4)

To see previous blogs about commas see these links: the rules, rules in detail part 2, part 3.

6. Between adjectives that don't relate before a noun
  • When adjectives relate to one another, you don't need commas: The dark green house describes an olive green house
  • When you use adjectives and they don't directly relate, you need commas: The dark, green house describes a regular green house with the lights out.
The trick? If you can put "and" in between the adjectives, use a comma.

7. Before you shift into quoting
When your characters go to speak or you're introducing any quote really (like in an article or paper), you offset with a comma. There's the exception if you can read through the quote, but I rarely see that in fiction: he said that "[quote]."
  • Arms crossing and eyes narrowing into slits of rage, she said, "What do you want?"

And the hardest rule of them all...

8. Whenever it's needed
Commas can be used for a shift in content, a needed pause, to offset the end of the sentence that relates to the beginning. This is difficult to determine, but ask yourself these questions. Does it make sense with it? Does it makes sense without it? If it makes sense with a comma, put a comma in. If not, leave it out. These are the commas not to stress over since professional editors should help you with them. I don't think an agent or publisher would judge the value of a manuscript on these gray-area type commas, but they might if it comes to improperly using all commas and creating comma splices. Multiple kinds of grammar issues would show them a lot of work might be needed.

In the end, commas are hard work. I leave them out all the time because I'm in a hurry, which is why editing is key. Knowing how and when to use them can sharpen a manuscript and that cannot hurt your chances of getting published.

What other grammar issues would you like me to discuss in upcoming blogs? Comment below.