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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't These Shoes Remind You Of Commas?

(Warning: This picture and the topic of this post are both repeats.) I've been discussing information we writers find on the Internet and how, often times, it's contradicting. The proper use of the comma is no exception, and the contradictions over its use expand beyond the Internet, especially when it comes to whether or not it should proceed the word 'too'. I've read on a couple of agents' websites or blogs that there should be no comma. Say what? I learned there should be, and after seeing this, I picked up several best sellers off my bookshelf and flipped through them. Some used the comma; some didn't; and some used it sometimes and not others. I also started paying attention to other agents' and editors' websites and blogs to see what they preferred, and although not specified, most used the comma in their own writing. Now, obviously, if I were submitting to one of the agents who specifically state not to use the comma, I wouldn't, but what about when submitting to others? I'm really not sure. What do you think? Should there or should there not be a comma before the word 'too'?

41 comments:

Kristi Faith said...

darn this pc-I wrote a fabulously eloquent comment and now it's gone. :( LOL

My college professor never allowed commas before the "too" or before "and" in a list. Which went against what I learned in grammar school. I guess it's preference, but I also feel like commas are secretly hated by editors and so less is better. LOL :0)

Abby Annis said...

I don't use them before too, unless I feel like that word needs to be emphasised. I agree with Kristi--less is better. :)

Matthew Delman said...

There are roughly half a dozen major grammar style guides in use both nationwide and worldwide, all of which contradict each other at least once.

Case in point: The Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook disagree on the serial comma. AP: "The flag is red, white and blue." Chicago: "The flag is red, white, and blue."

Both versions are correct, but it depends on which grammar book you follow.

And don't even get me started on British grammar vs. American grammar.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Comma rules are all over the place. I follow the basic rules like in dialogue tags and then use them wherever there's a natural pause.

Amy said...

My rule of thumb is, whenever in doubt, don't punctuate.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I don't use it for "too". That wasn't a conscious decision, just how it came out. So I guess that's what I learned at some point.

L. T. Host said...

I say you can't really go too wrong. And it depends on the context. For example, my first sentence: there, no comma. But if I were to say "And I really like commas, too," I would want one before it.

Janna Qualman said...

Most often, I put one. But I've caught myself really looking at sentences that end with "too," and sometimes it feels better to go without. Flow and content dictates it for me.

We got snow both yesterday and today, and it's piled up. Today is soooooo cold, though. Is it as cold where you are?

Dominique said...

I always use the comma before the word 'too,' but, then again, I basically love commas, so I don't mind an excuse to fit them in.

Paul Greci said...

Great question, I'm just not sure there's answer,lol. I, too, have seen it both ways, even in the same novel.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

I'm scared to answer this. I commented last time and can't remember what I said, so to avoid contradicting myself, I'm going with a no comment on the comma conundrum. :D

Robyn Campbell said...

UGH, this question has BOGGLED my mind for, l, these may days. When I don't insert a comma before the word too in my MS, my writing partner Beth goes all freaky on me.:) Not really. But she is a grammar queen.

I don't know the answer. If I did I'd sell it. (The answer.) :)

I'm watching to see what everyone else says. Thanks for bringing this up. So what if you do add a comma before the word too in your MS. Then you find an agent(Mr. Awesome agent) that abhors commas placed before the word too. Do you copy and go through the ENTIRE MS, taking out all those little suckers? Why does it have to be so dang COMPLICATED? :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Uh, in the first sentence in the above comment it is really saying, lo. :)

Carolyn V. said...

I think there shouldn't be. I took a college writing course and they said the fewer commas the better. =)

Lily Robinson said...

I question this more and more. I was taught to use the comma. I was taught it was optional in lists. I tend to use them in my lists. Guess I need to do some research...

Keep me posted on this one.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I use the comma before too.
But my editor ended up taking a few out. So I asked her why are some in and some out? She told me some grammar reasoning, but I forget why. Wah! LOL

But I have seen on some agents' websites that they want you to take them all out. Amazingly enough, different publishing houses have different grammar styles. Ugh. More confusion. :)

Jody Hedlund said...

I honestly can say that I'm terrible with commas! I'm hoping my editor will direct me with where I really need them. All that to say, commas won't make or break us with getting agents and editors--at least it didn't for me!

Diane said...

Rules, rules, rules. Hard to remember all the grammar lessons and now the new preferences.... BTW love your little elf shoes! :O)

Tamika: said...

I put them. Never even gave it a second thought, but I appreciate the discussion. I would hate to be in the minority.

Renee Pinner said...

I started to comment on style guides, but I see the good Mr. Delman beat me to the punch. So, I, will, just, say, that, I really, really, don't, like, comma, rules!

Angie Muresan said...

Oy!! Commas! I don't know why I read comas. Anyway, I think it's a matter of preference, but I KNOW I overuse them. Had to do with my ESL class years ago. I wanted to be the best student, and did everything I was told.

Beth said...

I use them before "too" and "and". I love commas. I'm learning they are not favorites though, so we shall see if I cut them out. I may just leave them in and let the editor deal with them as he/she sees fit. That is, if I ever GET an editor :P

Bane of Anubis said...

Great post (even if repeated ;). Comma inconsistency (across books and in them) is a big ole pain in the arse. I say just write however is natural to you (within reason).

Also, those shoes would make wicked weapons.

~Ellie Kings~ said...

Commas, to me, have always been tricky. Like Matthew said it depends on the grammar book you follow. I'm a bit of a perfectionist so it gets me a little crazy when I don't seem to know if the comma is to be or not to be. :) Thanks for driving me coo-coo Susan with these awesome posts! xo

Julie Dao said...

Guilty! I overuse the comma. Everyone who critiques my work says so. I like to read my work out loud to check the flow and I guess I can run out of breath easily!

Rae said...

LOL Depends on my mood. I follow my own rules. It changes everyday.
BTW I thought of you when I posted those sweeper shoes. I knew you wouldn't be able to resist. Be my guest.

Melanie's Randomness said...

Omg I've had soo many conversations well arguments about commas. Honestly I think it depends on the person. lol. Yeah that may not be grammatically correct answer but everyone was taught differently. I'd say Why not do the comma before the too and after the But.

Tabitha Bird said...

I am such the wrong girl to ask about commas. Australia has its own rules about them. For example, we don't use the before the word 'and' when it links sentences. And I am sure we have other rules that you guys don't. So I never know what to do with the darn things.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

You know, I don't use commas before the word "too". But I love commas--perhaps a little too much.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Okay, I really had to think about this one. I have a tendency to get a little comma-happy when I write. I usually end up going back over my work to remove extraneous commas. As far as before the word too, um...guess I vote no. (Man, I hope that doesn't prevent me from getting serious consideration from a book publisher some day!) ;o)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I'm old school, I still put the comma in.

Heather Sunseri said...

Does anyone REALLY know how to use a comma? I use way too many commas. My husband (he's so cute, bless his heart) and I argue all the time about whether a comma should be used in certain circumstances.

Erin Merryn said...

If I could get published as a senior in high school and just had my second book come out at 24 last month called "Living For Today" then you can do it too. Don't give up on that dream. It can happen if you go after it. It might take some hard work but if you have it in you then you can make it happen.

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

I too have found some contradicting info about writing, personally I love using commas.

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

One more thing, I just all the variety of shoes you use, gotta love shoes.

Jill Kemerer said...

Uggh! I used to have a good command of punctuation, but delving into the "rules" has made me doubt my abilities. I'm just doing what feels right.

Kathy said...

I usually put one.

I think commas are like accessories. Some people just have to add a necklace or earrings to their outfit, some would rather go without.

Amy said...

You know where else I've run into this issue? With names. In school I learned how to write this sentence: "I spoke with my friend, Susan, who wrote a story about commas." Now I've learned (just recently) that I can write the sentence without either of those commas. The woman who taught me this lesson is a freelance editor and said the "old" way is correct, but the "newer" way is preferred. ??? I learn something every day. Have you seen or heard this in your travels??

Jeff said...

It's a matter of style and can go either way. The key is to be consistent. If you use it once, use it all the way through.

Also, quotation marks go outside commas and periods. :)

WhisperingWriter said...

I have no idea, I'm really bad with commas.

#167 Dad said...

Grammar? I was taught grammar and sentence structure by ear pinching, hair pulling, knuckle banging nuns and they learned me good.
Actually, thinking about commas causes me to cover my ears and head, sacrificing my knuckes to the ruler. neurotic much???