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By JUNE CASAGRANDE | September 9, 2009
Everyone knows how to use commas ? right up until the moment they think about them. As if on autopilot, most people will put commas in ?It was a dark, stormy, scary night,? just as they?ll leave them out of ?It was a bright green convertible sedan.? Just don?t ask them why. Put these two sentences next to each other, ask the author why the first has commas and the second doesn?t, and there?s a good chance he will have no idea. There?s even a chance that the next time he?s writing a sentence like this he will do a worse job of using commas, not better.
By By June Casagrande | January 25, 2006
Like everyone who lives in and around Los Angeles I sometimes read scripts. Friends' scripts. TV scripts. Movie scripts. Unfortunate scripts. Painful scripts. How-can-I-everlook-my-friendin-eye-again scripts. It's a sad commentary on our culture that everyone with a Southern California zip code thinks he has the next great blockbuster, or 10, tucked away in a desk drawer. But sadder yet is the fact that these scripts, wretched as they are, are still better than any of mine. But I've found a way to save face, in my own eyes at least.
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | February 7, 2007
Sex. Now that I have your attention I'd like to discuss the fact that this sentence you're reading is not necessarily a run-on sentence because run-on sentences are not simply sentences that run on and on but instead are a specific type of rambling sentence in which punctuation that should be separating two or more independent clauses is omitted as is any conjunction that could otherwise link the two independent — OK. That's enough of that....
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | February 28, 2007
I was taught that any little adverb like "too," "either" or "anyway" that appears at the end of a sentence should be preceded by a comma. I was also taught that saccharin is a smart choice. Take a sentence like, "I was told that steak is good for you, too." How do you like that comma before the "too"? I like it just fine. And so does the New York Times in most of the instances I found during a recent search. But I also found some sentences like this: "The music business is not the only thing that has changed in the eight years since Record Mart last sold a compact disc.
By June Casagrande | May 31, 2013
The handsome, articulate, intelligent man wore a bright green midriff peasant blouse. Not really. No intelligent person would do that. But I offer up this sentence not as an example of fashion sense or IQ testing. It's an example of a comma situation that confounds many people yet is surprisingly easy to handle. Did you notice that, in our sentence, there are commas between some adjectives but not others? If not, it could be a good thing: It means that the punctuation didn't leap out at you, which means it seems natural, which means you already have a sense of how to use commas between adjectives.
April 7, 2010
Last week in this column, I talked about one of the common comma misperceptions that, on a recent copy-editing job, created a lot of frustrating busywork for me. (Those of you who read it can bill me for your therapy services.) There?s a reason I discussed only one comma misperception: That?s all I could fit in the column. But the truth is there were several other comma errors that cropped up over and over again in the list of professionally written author biographies. And, because one week later I?
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