I recently received a comment about the lack of commas in my writing. This is just a quick post to say that my comma decisions are deliberately made. I choose a flowing style when I can; this means I forgo putting commas in common places.
In the 1700’s, commas were much more common. Those writers dropped commas in places you didn’t realize existed. Eventually, the pauses were dropped in favor of a smoother style. We English writers will use fewer commas as time goes on. My general rule is to first think of eliminating ambiguity, then concentrate on the flow of the piece (flow is a very close second, though). Writing is meant to convey information and emotion. If you’re sure you are impressing people with the unambiguous meaning of your words, then make sure the tone of the work leaves the right impression as well. You want the reader to walk away with a feeling in their gut that comes from information in their head (and yes, I know I used “their” there, instead of “he” or “she.” That’s another post topic I’ll approach someday).
Here are some different areas around the web I visited today that talk about comma usage.
Blood Red Pencil articles on comma usage
Particularly helpful Blood Red Pencil article about Trask rules on commas
The New Yorker article looking into the book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves
Please weigh in with a comment about the comma controversy. How, by chance, do you use commas?