The "humble" comma!

Somehow, the comma has not exactly my favourite punctuation in the last one year. My work has taught me that it is a very important punctuation in the English language. (For those who do not know, I read and write for a living.) Also, I’ve seen that the comma is the most abused, and at other times the most ignored punctuation. Almost no one gets it completely right. The Grammar Nazis can have a raging debate, spend hours talking over where it should be placed and from where it should be removed, and still reach an ambiguous consensus. Most people (even if you read and write for a living) are unsure of the placement of a comma. The English use them sparingly, while the Americans use it blatantly (it is an American’s nature to abuse anything he comes in contact with—they think the world was built for them alone.) Anyway, so it’s been a while and I have taken a few lessons on commas to see how I should be using them. And as I write this, I recall that I have made a mental note to spend some time alone with the Chicago Manual that sits 2 bays away from me.

As it also turns out, I woke up one morning and found commas all over my life’s design. Unfinished tasks, unattended events, unanswered e-mails and uninvited loose ends. There is so much to do; and so much to catch up on. What’s worse is that they appear to be in all the wrong places. Sometimes, they do not break my life’s sentences into a complete phrase, and at others, they sit smugly, unnoticed like typos. And while I’m busy attending to those, after some paragraphs, I have full stops even before I have had a chance to finish the sentence. Now that makes grammatically incorrect sentences! I wish some people would wait for me to finish adding a predicate before shooting away black dots!

So, I decided to take stock and put things in order before I had grammatically incorrect sentences all over my life. And considering the erratic time I’ve been having, I wanted to be a Superwoman to deal with all of it. I decided to take matters in my own hands (with all seriousness that the phrase is supposed to incite) and work on completing sentences left dangling half-way. Today happens to be Day 4 of being a Superwoman, and I’m not sure if I’ve been doing a great job all this while. The grammar is still messed up and the commas are still in the wrong place. A little editing I’ve been able to manage. And I know editing helps!

All said and done, it’s time to go visit the Chicago Manual.

Until more completed sentences.

I leave with an ellipsis…

– Sameen