Why Grammar is Necessary for Clarity – Part 2 The Comma
Following on from last week’s post, we look at how the humble comma can be essential for clarity. (Grammar, remember is all about clarity – avoiding confusion and misunderstandings.)
Perhaps the most frequently quoted example of the difference a comma can make is:
Let’s eat Grandma!
Let’s eat, Grandma!
The simple comma turns children from cannibalistic monsters to just normal, hungry children!
What other purpose does the humble comma serve? It separates items in lists:
On our trip we visited the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Death Valley and Disneyland.
It separates subordinate or dependent clauses:
My daughter, who is 22, is getting married on Saturday.
This clause gives extra information, not necessary to the sentence, which can stand alone – without the extra clause.
Subordinate clauses do not have to be in the middle of a sentence:
Once the alarm clock has sounded its irritating beep, I usually get up fairly quickly and make coffee.
Again, the second part of this sentence can stand alone but the subordinate clause cannot.
Commas should also be used when addressing someone (see “Let’s eat, Grandma” above!)
Check back next week to see how pronoun use is important for clarity.