Comma story – Terisa Folaron

Commas are tricky things, especially when subordinates and conjunctions are involved. If you can remember a few basic rules, a simple law of physics, and some common scenarios, you will be able to use commas correctly. I like to think of the different parts of our sentence as characters. Let’s meet a few of them: the tiny conjunctions, the mighty subordinates, and the clever comma. Conjunctions are small and nimble. They are words that connect clauses, words, and phrases. You can easily remember the conjunctions by remembering the acronym FANBOYS. The conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Because they’re so small, more often than not, they require the help of a comma but not always. Subordinates, on the other hand, are the WWE heavyweight
champions of sentences. They are words that connect
two unequal things, dependent and independent clauses. Subordinates make it very clear what is being prioritized in a sentence. Commonly used subordinates are although, because, before, however, unless, and even though. Because subordinates are all about power, they can do a lot of heavy
lifting by themselves. But, of course, sometimes
even the strongest among us needs some help from our clever friends. Because our clever comma is so nice, she often roams her neighborhood looking for some community service to do. Today, as soon as she leaves her house, she sees a subordinate lifting the weight of two complete sentences, one on each arm. Bartheleme loves engaging
in political debate even though he usually loses. The comma asks the subordinate
if he needs help. Well, we know that subordinates are the WWE heavyweight
champions of sentences. They can easily hold the weight of these two complete sentences because they are distributed
evenly on both arms. So, when the comma asks if it can help, the subordinate is appalled at the idea of needing assistance. No thanks, maybe next time! So, the comma continues on. Soon, she seems a couple of subordinates attempting to lift the weight of sentences directly
in front of themselves. Even though Bartheleme loves to sing, he never sings in front of others. The comma asks the subordinates
if they need help. They might not want to admit it, but this time the subordinates
do need help. Complete sentences weigh quite a bit. Simple physics tells us that it’s easier to balance heavy objects if the weight is evenly distributed. So, while the subordinates
are quite capable of balancing two complete sentences when carrying the weight on both sides, they’re having trouble
picking just one up. The comma rushes over to help the struggling subordinates, but how will she help? When subordinates begin sentences, the comma will place herself directly after the first
thought or complete sentence. After helping the subordinates, our comma heroine continues on and spots a conjunction holding the weight
of two complete sentences. Bartheleme was accepted
into the University of Chicago, and he is on the waitlist
for Stanford University. The comma asks the conjunction
if he needs help. Of course he does! Hurry! The comma rushes and places
itself before the conjunction. Fanboys aren’t as militant
as subordinates. For this reason, the commas don’t have to fall
in line behind the fanboys. Fanboys are courteous creatures. They allow the comma to go ahead of them. Helping others is hard work! On her way home, our comma sees a conjunction
holding up the weight of a complete sentence and a fragment sentence. Bartheleme is going to major
in molecular biology or interpretive dance. The now-exhausted comma
asks the conjunction if he needs help lifting the items. This is one of the rare occassions where a conjunction doesn’t
need the help of a comma. The conjunction assures the comma that help isn’t needed, which is good for the comma because by now, all it wants to do is go home and rest up for another day of vigilant
sentence constructing.

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