Commas Save Lives

written by Mikaela Cowles on September 30, 2014 in Punctuation with no comments

Lets Eat

Commas are pesky little things. Some folks use them a lot. Some folks don’t use them at all. And, some folks want to throw them against the wall and forget they ever existed.

I find myself parked in each of these camps from time to time. What about you?

All and all though, commas are glorious little things that give you incredible power. They, as the title of this post would suggest, save lives.

How so? Look at the image above. “Lets eat Grandma!” literally means lets chow down on a big Grandma steak. 

Where as, “Lets eat, Grandma!” is directed towards your grandmother. It’s an invitation to eat something (other than human flesh hopefully) together.

How’s that for important? That comma, which some folks want to punch in the face and forget, determines cannibalism. Now, tell me commas aren’t important.

In a case like this, how do you determine whether to use the comma or not?

While reading the sentence out loud is always a good place to start, the real key is to take a look at what you are trying to say.

Is the sentence broken into two thoughts? This is called an introductory phrase. It’s a short snippet, in this case “Let’s eat,” which is a thought in and of itself. However, should you want to eat Grandma, then by all means, forget the comma.


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