Love comma The noble comma. There is no more baffling character in the entire English language. In the world of homeschooling, there are whole units based solely upon the proper use of this tiny squiggle.

Sadly, the comma is being neglected by today’s society. Granted, anything that small which requires college courses to master is bound to eventually become, if not obsolete, widely ignored.

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This is a COMMA butterfly. If the comma was good enough to get a butterfly named after it, it’s good enough to go in my writing.

But, People, is it really necessary to consign periods to the same fate? They’re so simple. In the UK, they are quite sensibly referred to as full stops. All you must do to determine their place is to decide when you would have taken a breath if you were speaking. They take hardly any time or space, so even the verbose among us need not cast them aside.

In years past, punctuation was considered important in any form of writing, even informal letters. Since social media became the primary means of communication, the use of punctuation has dropped off. This is a minor disaster. Not so much for us, but for the folks trying to translate our writings in the future. More than one ancient language lacked punctuation. This lack of itsy-bitsy indicator marks causes dedicated linguists no end of trouble. So please, Everyone, don’t neglect the period.

And for those of you who really want to know, the basic functions of a comma are as follows:

1. To separate the two halves of a compound sentence. In other words, if you’re smooshing two sentences together, you put the comma where they smash.

I wrote a new post today. Then I played with my kids.

Becomes

I wrote a new post today, and then played with my kids.

2. To separate the introductory phrases and clauses.

For example, in a sentence beginning with “for example,” a comma is placed after the phrase “for example” because it introduces the rest of the sentence. These are easy to pick out because the clause being separated can go at either end of the sentence.

For example, many people leave punctuation out of their social media updates.

OR

Many people leave punctuation out of their social media updates for example.

3. To separate interrupters. That is, names and words like Oh, Ah, Well, etc.

Oh, dear

OR

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4. To separate items in lists.

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