An Introductory Learning Support on Using the Comma

Here is an introductory learning support on using the comma. This is the first of fifteen of these I will post in the next few weeks, which I expect merits an explanation.

Somewhere, either in Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, or Tropic of Capricorn (I read all three in one compulsive gulp about thirty years ago), i.e. Henry Miller’sObelisk Trilogy,” the author asserts (I paraphrase, but closely, because in spite of hours of research, I cannot find the direct quote online, and I don’t want to spend the money or time to buy the books and find the sentence) that it’s easier to describe the philosophy of Nietzsche than it is to teach adequately the proper use of the comma. Oscar Wilde famously made his own remarks about the use of the comma, which is a little easier (but much more complex in its origin) to track down, which I was able to do thanks to the excellent website Quote Investigator.

Commas tend to bedevil me as well; indeed, I have had a tendency to overuse them. For years, I have meant of create an extensive reference library on the multitudinous uses of the comma in prose. Using what I think is the best punctuation manual in print, I have at last done so. As I post each of them, should you choose to download them, you will notice they vary considerably in length. After thinking about this for several weeks, I decided to use the same major subdivisions that the author uses in her manual.

However, as you may see, there are numerous minor subdivisions within most of these documents. It may be that these need to be broken up further. Because these are Microsoft Word documents, you are able to manipulate these materials to suit your needs. If I’d broken them up myself, this project would have taken much longer than it did, which was plenty long per se.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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