comma use: more or fewer commas in sentences - what is best?


Senior Member
Hello everyone,

In principle, do you think it is better to utilize a lot of commas in a single sentence going by the grammaticality rules or get rid of some of them, due to the length?

Thank you very much
  • Use commas where they are appropriate. If you feel like you have too many, it is a problem with the sentence.

    Some of the rules on comma usage are debated and flexible, so you can certainly adopt a style which uses fewer. However, do not arbitrarily remove commas on a sentence-by-sentence basis. Remember, the only hard-and-fast rule of grammar is to be consistent in your use.
    The trend today is to avoid commas. If you can rearrange your clauses to eliminate commas and the sentence meaning is clear there is no reason to set off independent clauses simply because they are independent. COMPARE If you can rearrange your clauses, to eliminate commas, and the sentence meaning is clear, there is no reason to set off independent clauses, simply because they are independent.
    I confess to being something of a comma-addict.

    I put commas where I would normally have a very brief pause when reading the sentence aloud.

    I use semi-colons where I would have a longer pause; and a period when the pause is distinct.

    I don't use rules by and large, but rather I use the sound and cadence of the sentence.

    (This approach might put be at odds with many grammarians.)
    A good guide to follow for clear writing is to avoid long sentences. That doesn't mean that you should never use them, as sometimes they are necessary, but if a sentence is long and complicated it can be very difficult to keep the ideas from the beginning of the sentence in your head until you get to the full stop at the end of the sentence so it's better to rephrase it. (...and breathe...)