Sometimes it is good to play a comma by ear: place one where there is a natural pause in narrative or dialogue. As with everything done to bring style to prose, overdoing it mutes the tone. Too much playing by ear gives the wrong impression, and not one an author would like an editor to have. What should be style becomes mundane or it may leave the impression that an author doesn’t know why and where a comma should be placed. This is why learning the rules for comma placement is important.

Continuing on with the list of comma rules:

Comma Rule #6: When an expression or a conjunctive adverb is embedded within a sentence, they should be set off with commas.

Example: Mary and John, wouldn’t you know, ran off together to the writers’ conference. We should, therefore, be ready to learn all we can from them when they return.

Comma Rule #7: When a sentence is directed toward someone, that person, however addressed, is set off by commas:

Example: John, did you enjoy the conference.
Where have you been, sweetheart?

Comma Rule #8: A comma follows exclamations as well as yes and no when starting a sentence.

Example: Oh, you didn’t? Yes, you did. Yikes, are you ever in trouble.

Comma Rule #9: Adverbs that introduce a sentence are followed by a comma.

Example: Obviously, you were oblivious to the trouble in which you found yourself.

Comma Rule #10: When writing out city and state, month, day,and year in a sentence, the second item is set off by commas.

Example: Drew was born in London, England, on October 9, 1979, but his family moved to New York on January 1, 1981.

Next week we’ll cover a few more rules for comma placement.

Happy editing!

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