“There’s no denying that commas are helpful little flecks of punctuation.”
— Matthew J.X. Malady
I was reading an article the other day on Slate (an online magazine) where the author Malady suggests that it may be time to put the lowly comma to rest. He points out in his article that no one uses commas in speaking and that very few people have trouble understanding what a person is saying whether or not they use a comma when writing.
He didn’t use any commas in his column which contained probably 12-1500 words and I had no trouble following his comments or illustrations. He also points out that we live in an age of tweets and instant messages where it seems that no one uses punctuation at all. Of course I beg to differ. Even when sending people a text message I capitalize first words and names and proper pronouns. I also use punctuation punctiliously. I can’t help it. That’s just the way I am wired.
Malady recognizes the place of commas in history time and space as he notes in the opening line which I quoted. Commas are helpful little flecks of punctuation. The well-worn illustration of “Let’s eat Grandma” could be understood as a cannibal child’s suggestion (without the comma) or as a plea from a child to his grandma if the comma is properly placed between the “eat” and the “Grandma.”...