comma use: Are commas necessary?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Robert Bennie, Apr 13, 2005.

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  1. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day modgirl and forum

    Are commas necessary

    Robert
     
  2. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    NY
    US, English
    As necessary as spelling. I mean everyone would understand speach and speech, definitely and definately. Sometimes a comma changes the meaning more even than anything else in the sentence.

    Why do we care if we make ourselves understood? I mean: Why do we care, if we make ourselves understood?

    Without comma: Did the lion eat Fred?
    With comma: Did the lion eat, Fred?
     
  3. Monkling Junior Member

    NY
    US - English
    If not for commas you'd have to take a really deep breath before reading out loud especially when you have an extremely long sentence because then you wouldn't get a chance to pause and even aside from the pause that the comma gives us you would really be in trouble if you have a list of items such as "I cleaned out my closet and came finally found my dictionary bookends tennis shoes a bowling ball and a pin.

    Try reading that confusing sentence out loud. :)
     
  4. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Surely you jest?!

    Here is a perfect example of a sentence that was written to me in a letter recently.

    "Nevertheless, I'll still support you and John and I will take you to the
    club next time you are in London."

    Did he mean, "I'll still support you and John," and "I will take you to the club...."

    OR

    Did he mean, "I'll still support you," and "John and I will take you to the club...."

    I'm still not sure! With all due respect, reading a piece of writing with NO commas is pure hell sometimes, especially when the meaning could be quite varied, depending on the placement of the commas. Also, the writing simply does not flow. We naturally take pauses when we speak, and commas often reflect that pause. When commas are omitted at critical junctures, the writing suffers tremendously.
     
  5. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    I'll bet Fred thinks those commas are pretty darned important. ;-)
     
  6. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day forum

    must surely be regarded as a cartoon phrase and would never be seriously used unless a person is comfortable with the concept of humans being regarded as animal food.

    When reading or reciting it is considered perfectly acceptable to pause at the word
    I am struggling with your fourth line. Is there an extra word there. I am unable to place came in that context.

    What do I say to an example proffered containing commas. The tenderer states that communication has been hampered by the commas. I'm lost there. Do you know Dorothy Dix?

    Robert
     
  7. Lancel0t

    Lancel0t Senior Member

    Philippines
    Philippines - Filipino/English
    THey are necessary for the clarity and good order of words in a sentence.
     
  8. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    With all due respect, Robert, your writing is often quite difficult to read when you don't use commas or question marks or other appropriate punctuation.

    Words are often misinterpreted without good punctuation. And, without commas, we can only guess where a pause should come, and it may be quite different from what the writer intended.

    When reading or reciting it is considered perfectly acceptable to pause at the word

    Yes (I thought that would be obvious), but which word?! When reading a sentence for the first time, it isn't often easy to tell which word it should be.
     
  9. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    PS -- you'll notice that in my example ("Nevertheless, I'll still support you and John and I will take you to the club next time you are in London."), the comma is critical, and the sentence can have two completely different meanings! Not using commas, question marks, and other clarifying punctuation just leads the foot one step further down the path of miscommunication.
     
  10. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    NY
    US, English
    If the literal meaning of the Lion/Fred example impedes your ability to evaluate it for the comma's benefit in the change of meaning it provided, I had another very real example (that I used quite accidentally at first) in that same post that also changes meaning with and without punctuation.

    Why do we care if we make ourselves understood?
    Why do we care, if we make ourselves understood?
     
  11. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Actually, the example of Lsp's "Did the lion eat Fred" is a very good one for the exact reason Robert gave. If we're reading the sentence for the first time, and there is no comma, we read all the words together: Did the lion eat Fred? Then, common sense kicks in and we say, "Wait a minute...the lion wouldn't eat Fred!" So, the lack of comma causes an unnatural interruption while we figure out just what the writer meant. Good writing leaves no awkward moments that leave the reader wondering just what on earth the writer meant to say.

    Can you imagine reading a mystery thriller (book) and having to pause every few sentences to figure out what the writer wanted to say?! A writer's pen should draw pictures in the reader's mind, not question marks.
     
  12. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day modgirl

    Your sentence is not lucid and can have way more than two meanings. I have no anchor for Nevertheless. I have no concept of what the narrator is neverthelessing. Do you require physical support or financial support or psychological support or moral support or technical support?

    Is the question being implicitly critical of John or is the narrator apologising or is there nothing wrong at all?

    Any attempt to cram too many concepts into one short sentence must hinder communication.

    Robert
     
  13. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day modgirl

    I just felt that gentle feeling of the point where I sees we

    Robert
     
  14. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Robert, when you say "your sentence," which sentence? I wrote many!

    Okay, gigs up. I think Robert is trying to fool us all. He isn't writing clearly at all, and then he claims that our writing is awkward. And, he doesn't seem to know simple rules of punctuation. (It's a very common fact that introductory words like "nevertheless" are always followed by commas; kindly look it up) Unfortunately, you're missing the entire argument by attempting to divert attention away from what you don't understand. But quite frankly, I simply think you're trying to play dumb. Either that, or you don't possess a rudimentary knowledge of sentence structure. I'm sorry I originally answered because I was sincerely trying to help.
     
  15. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day modgirl

    I refer to the sentence commencing with the word Nevertheless.
    Please humour me and place that sentence in context with the preceding sentence.

    Robert
     
  16. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Last post from me. Robert, the word "nevertheless" refers to a previous sentence that has absolutely nothing to do with the example of the problem of a missing comma.

    In the rare instance that you are seriously trying to learn, try this sentence:

    I'll support you and John and I will take you to the club.

    You seem easily distracted, so I removed any distracting words for you.
     
  17. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day modgirl

    I detected an unpleasant tone in your almost correctly worded reply which did not give me a context. I feel inappropriatness in your responding personally. I posed a valid point and am interested in language and communication. You responded with convoluted examples to support a contrary stance and I applaud your attempt. Nevertheless, I feel that to question my intentions cheapens your reputation and that of this site.

    Robert
     
  18. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day forum and modgirl

    I wish to understand language and communication.

    the sensual sound of silent sighs
    of upraised eyes and open minds
    sheer joy to pass as time flows nigh
    with gentle hearts who wonder why

    MIND MELD

    Play tag with real intentions
    pass along a tender gesture
    then consumate each contact
    with a point of honest praise

    What may come back from this gamble
    is respect and understanding
    as evolving players ramble
    through a changling maze all tread

    Swirling honour eager healing
    pealing layers from the ceiling
    moving walls and clearing floor boards
    in the chambers of our minds

    Feel each fiercely searing instant
    every wild erratic flicker
    as you touch that fickle portion
    of the point where I sees we

    Will an ego rise to lash out
    at the search to learn and know you
    polish shape our small creations
    in this craft so wracked with gain

    Show fresh fables we alone know
    novel secrets unalone now
    of those times so recent distant
    when we walked in splendour gone

    Can your open reason hold me
    graceful listen ideas glisten
    then to glide toward tomorrow
    and engulf that wamth with thought

    Sheer mutual treasure
    near physical pleasure
    fear joy an illusion of marvels and fusion
    await now the daring who venture themselves

    This trickle flows slow clear
    vivacious as crystal enriching each lover
    increasing all givers
    while nameless sad faces race hating their fear

    Robert
     
  19. Benjy

    Benjy Senior Member

    Milton Keynes, UK
    English - English
    hi rob :) whilst you may be against commas and other such rot my laziness prevents my for using capital letters. i hope you don't mind me not capitalising your name. i fail to see how any of this cheapens the reputation of the site. maybe you don't feel that your tone is argumentative but others may. they are entitled to that opinion.
     
  20. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    This is, perhaps, an interrogative
     
  21. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    With or without punctuation it would be interesting to see some evidence to demonstrate what causes the reply to be less than fully correctly worded.
    Tone detectors bereft of factual support have been demonstrated to be highly subjective as well as unreliable.
     
  22. gotitadeleche Senior Member

    Texas, U.S.A.
    U.S.A. English
    modgirls context was explained in post #4:
    It isn't necessary for her to include the entire letter (or even the previous sentence) to make her point. I don't understand why you think her examples are convoluted. I think they are very clear.
     
  23. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    I feel that commas are necessary. Do I personaly use them all the time, no....I like dots....:D
    Commas are used for so many different things, but mostly to allow the reader to stop and take a breath....
    To name a few...
    They seperate a series of elements..."I went to the store and picked up some apples,oranges and grapes.'
    They connect two independant clauses..'The grapes were a good deal, but the apples were cheaper.'
    Mostly used to avoid confusion..
    Examples:
    'Outside, the lawn was cluttered with broken branches.'..without the comma this would leave a person asking..'What is outside of the lawn?'...but with the comma you know that it is the lawn outside..
    'For most, the year is already over.'...without the comma it would read as..'formost the year'..which makes no sense...

    te gato;)
     
  24. abc Senior Member

    Vietnam, Vietnamese
    :)
    arecommasnecessary
    areclothesnecessary
    arecarsnecessary
    arecomputersnecessary
    arespacesnecessary
    whydoweneedrules
    whydoweneedspaces
    whydoweneedcommas
    commascomasmorecommas
    makelifedifficult
    forstudents
    forteachers
    forwriters
    foreditors
    forme
    :)
     
  25. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day Cuchuflete

    In the rare instance that you are...

    The choice and position of rare appears to me to allow for misinterpretation.

    You are happy with the tone to which I referred and I am happy for you.

    I will use this wonderfully supplied forum to carefully not question motives and intelligence and ability and continue to bumble my way through my maze content to know that I will always meet someone different to me. Someone to show me something I have not yet seen.

    I think therefore I know I am


    Robert
     
  26. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day abc

    Thank you for bringing the fun back. I am feeling somewhat under siege and I'll have to be careful if I want to pose an actually significant question.

    Robert
     
  27. abc Senior Member

    Vietnam, Vietnamese
    Robert,

    We created commas to bring some sort of order into our somewhat chaotic world???

    Hmm, I'm glad you found the previous post amusing.:)
     
  28. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day abc
    I like your spin
    Robert
     
  29. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    Reading English without proper punctuation is very difficult and frustrating. I despise participating in forums where people spell everything wrong on purpose, including unnecessary colloquial emphasis, but neglect to use proper punctuation.

    Here's a good example:
    kay angel
    i think ur pushing it u know the 71 and all the added ones were extreamly good i think u have a bf and r tryign to be ind enial well dont be its not worth it!!!! u have reasons staring at u from ur screeen and ur just rationalizing with urself forget ur hostility for a second and realise how right these things are they are really good and im sorry if u cant feel that right now bu thik bout them... good luck to u!
     
  30. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    Hello forum

    May I please offer my unreserved appology to any person who has been hurt or offended by my clumsy words. I intended no harm or offence and I still want to play here. This is a most fascinating and informative venue.

    I withdraw any inference in relation to any comment disparaging of another and request forgiveness.

    I will now tuck my tail firmly between my legs and crawl off to lick my wounds and contemplate my own innate clumsiness.

    Sorry for intruding,

    Robert

    P.S. I really enjoyed deciphering your remark until I understood that I was the butt of the criticism. Now I simply bleed for my own stupidity.

    We are no more than what we say
     
  31. Becky85 Senior Member

    England, English
    i think the only reason people have felt offended is because most people who use this website are very passionate about languages, including all the rules that come with them. So when somebody says that they find such rules to be unnecessary, and that there's no real need to learn all the rules provided you can be understood, it kind of hits a nerve! We all enjoy this forum, we all enjoy learning and discussing languages and we're glad you find it to be as fascinating and informative as we do! :)
     
  32. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    I was not poking fun at you, rather I was merely expressing my opinion. I feel strongly about this, since many apparently feel that it's enjoyable to write like they speak, ie. poorly.

    My posts on this subject might seem unnecessarily caustic and outraged, but I do not want anyone thinking that this is to become a new, acceptable, standard of writing. I understand that they are only doing it in informal venues, but while writing in shorthand is fine, writing as though you are having a IM conversation is not. Forums are not as informal IM conversations regardless of context because IM conversations are not published on the Internet.
     
  33. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Robert;
    You know what..no need to be sorry for anything...Yes we come here to learn, give help and get help in return. Some want to know about all the rules, others want to know about slang..it is a very diverse crowd...
    Some of us have what we call brain to finger problems..we have even started our own club, yet are corrected in a good natured way...
    Some of us write and type the way we would speak..
    One of us has her own language, yup that would be me!...Yet we are all here for the same reason, we like it here and most of the time we play nicely with each other...
    So you can come out from the corner now, we promise not to smack you across the nose with a rolled up newspaper..
    Mods, feel free to delete this and de-claw me, if you find this out of bounds..

    te gato;)
     
  34. Robert Bennie Banned

    Byron Bay Australia
    Australia - Australian
    G'day forum and thank you one and all

    My knowledge of commas has been changed and I have received a marvelous benefit. My emotions have been inspired and I understand,

    COMMAS

    None deny each glad occasion
    when the clown steps out from in us
    painted angry smile covering all fear
    Wanton vision of our nature
    separate reason different version
    We will learn so much from laughter
    when time grants us time to think
    You may sing and dance or caper
    gaily jape and daily paper
    over every tiny aspect of your life
    and how you live
    As you do that keep to yourself
    venal views and jealous brickbats
    If you struggle with who you are
    please leave me and mine to us

    Robert
     
  35. Adrian Geiser New Member

    Lima, Peru
    Peru, spanish and english
    You could add: Why, do we care if we make ourselves understood ?
     
  36. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    I've read reviews of a newly released book discussing English grammatical errors entitled "Eats, shoots and leaves." I haven't read it, but I expect it to contain many examples similar to the title.
    In the title example, the comma would be interpreted to mean that the words in the phrase are all verbs, and one has the impression that the missing subject is a film cowboy in a black hat.
    Without the comma ("eats shoots and leaves") the subject is far more likely to be a fuzzy woodland creature.
    The difference is significant.
     
  37. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    There are, indeed, many similar examples. One of my favourites is the sign that claims, wrongly, that "No dogs please".
     
  38. ameridude Junior Member

    USA/English
    Of course commas are necessary. Surprised to get the question from an Australian. Don't they speak English in Oz?
     
  39. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    They speak Strine. I thought everyone knew that. ;)
     
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