25 June 2005

I should probably wear a hat when outside

I have the hardest time with commas.

I seem to recall that there are two schools of thought on the matter. One, the strict grammarian group much like the teachers I had when I was in school (50s & 60s). Here are the rules for use of the comma and thou shall not violate them, never! SMACK!

The other, for lack of a better term, is the write-it-like-you-talk-it group (or the WILYTIs as we call them here in Kentucky), i.e., say the sentence out loud and whenever you pause between two words, feel free to slap a big ol' comma right there at that spot. Your writing will flow and be a pleasure to peruse - or something like that.

The WILYTI method is the easiest if you think about it. "I'm going to the store, do you want anything?" But actually, that should probably be two separate sentences. "I'm going to the store. Do you want anything?" So, it's not as intuitive as it seems. You still need to remember the rules of grammar.

And now, for something completey different. [Drat! Should I have left that comma off? Hmmm...]

To you bloggers out there - Do you ever go back and read your stuff and the thought hits you that, "Hells-fire! I sound like Andy Rooney!" Think about it, if you lead in with a personal pronoun, you're risking a Rooney. "My dog doesn't like me." "I've tried, but I don't like spinach." "Our paperboy has never hit the porch." Personal pronoun and a negative, curmudgeonly tone = Andy Rooney.

Rooneyism, guard against it.

4 comments:

Ramblin' Ed said...

When in doubt, I comma out.

I do the method you describe where every time you have a pause when talking, you put a comma in. It just seems natural.

But....Andy Rooney I'm not.

Travelin' Ed

The Appalachianist said...

Well, I never thought of myself as Andy Rooney. FORBID! I was taught to comma.I use comma's where ever I feel it would go. In a writeres group I atended last summer it was stated that comma's are not nescasary in fiction if they wouldn't fit. I say just let your inner comma shine.

Jim Blake said...

Travelin' Ed offered my advice on the subject; surely we both offered that before Twain!

I did go back and read some of my stuff and the personal pronoun does appear as the first word from time to time. ... I've been accused of being a curmudgeon from time to time but, thankfully, never a Rooney clone!

Appalachian Gun Trash said...

It's kind of difficult to not use a personal pronoun in these blogs thing, isn't it? I guess you just have to not type like a curmudgeon.

Comma out? Mark Twain? Is that something they teach at Great Lakes? I never heard that one before and as a son of a Mom who taught in a one room school on Marrowbone Creek, Logan Co., WV during the Depression, I got lots of grammar correction at home. Don't do double negatives, the double preposition (where's it at?) irregardless is NOT a word, it's May I?, not Can I? etc. etc. But, I never heard that "doubting comma out" from my teacher Mom. Darned, and I thought she knew all those grammar sayings. :-(