Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Love Commas!

I love commas! (See my earlier posts about punctuation on 10/16/10 and 3/11/12.) A review of Cynthia Zarin’s new book, “An Enlarged Heart” (reviewed 3/10/13 by Dawn Raffel – a writer I admire – in the San Francisco Chronicle) says about this former New Yorker writer that “The magazine’s influence is evident in the old-school beauty and precision of Zarin’s sentence making. She appears never to have encountered a comma she didn’t like, which has the effect of inviting the reader to pause, to breathe, to have another look around, even in a sentence as simple as, ‘The girls had had a wonderful time, swimming.’” Well, yes, exactly. I like the part about the “old-school beauty and precision” -- let’s not throw out this old-school style – and I like the part about commas. One of my coauthors and I, when working on our academic publications, used to have a half-joking, half-serious running conversation about commas; when we were reading and editing each other’s drafts, I would put commas in, and she would take them out. We always managed to find a compromise, but I was reminded of those days when I read this statement about Zarin’s book.


  1. I know what you mean about commas. I have been accused of overusing them. And I would wonder just how much of an effect my early education (which you shared) had on my love of commas.

  2. Good point! I am sure those English classes did affect our sense of when commas are appropriate, and how they really make a difference in the sound and meaning of a sentence.


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