Writing Madness Consolation Bracket #1 – Commas!

The first round of our Writing Madness bracket has concluded, which left us with eight writing issues that won’t be participating in the next round of voting. The Learning Hub’s writing staff have picked four of these eight, and over the next week we will be presenting them along with specific resources to help you overcome your frustrations with them. First up? Commas!

by James

The mysterious, perplexing, and maddening comma.  When do we use it?  When do we not use it?  It is a strange little piece of punctuation which helps avoid accidental cannibalism.  What do I mean?  Well consider this phrase “let’s eat, Grandma”.  Pretty harmless no?  Well take out the comma and the sentence becomes “let’s eat Grandma”.  Seeing as eating elders is frowned upon in our society you can see why the comma is important.  Yet, sometimes, it is hard, to tell, how many commas, one should use.  Clearly that sentence had too many.  For more information regarding commas please take a look at our handout below.  Despite being rather mystifying comma’s are not nearly as maddening as Citations, which was one of this week’s winners.  Check in soon for the next round or Writing Madness!

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by Alec


I received the feedback from my first college paper with the phrase “excessive comma usage” written at the end. The feedback raced through my head over and over again. How could a professor deduct so many points for such a small reason? That was just his opinion. Punctuation is subjective and decided by the author. I flipped back to the first page and began reading it out loud to myself. Surely, if I could prove to him that every comma was necessary, then he would consider raising my grade for the paper. I was quickly humbled as I stumbled over phrases, sentence after sentence. I realized just how distracting those commas were. There was a comma in almost every sentence, and I was clearly in the wrong.

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