I’m always on the lookout for interesting uses of commas, and since I began the Zen Comma blog, this habit has become…well…an obsession.
This morning, while reading about the missing tattoo from Canalis’s arm, I found a good example. (No, I’m not interested in Dancing with the Stars; I’m amused when air-brushers get caught manipulating photos. Really.)
Here’s the sentence:
Yes, she is wearing a white wristband, but her tattoo is actually a bit farther up the arm, so we probably should be able to see it. (http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/yahoo-tv/elisabetta-canalis-tattoos-mysteriously-absent-dwts-photos-183047182.html)
This sentence has three great commas demonstrating two uses of commas.
Comma with Interjections
First, we see a comma after “Yes.” In this sentence, “Yes” is serving as an interjection, much like No and Gosh at the beginnings of sentences. This interjection is correctly followed by a comma, following Zen Comma Rule I: Separate interjections with commas.
We can turn to Zen Comma for another example of interjections separated from the sentence: “I have, alas, more than I need.” “Alas” is the interjection.
Comma Joining Sentences
Next, we see two more commas that do the same thing, precede a conjunction to join complete sentences. In fact, if we look at the sentence carefully, we can recognize that it is actually three complete sentences joined together.
- Yes, she is wearing a white wristband.
- Her tattoo is actually a bit farther up the arm.
- We probably should be able to see it.
Each of these sentences is joined with a comma and a conjunction, which is correct. The first two sentences are joined using a comma with but. The second two sentences are joined using a comma with so.
Using a comma with a conjunction to join two complete sentences (a.k.a. Independent Clause) follows Zen Comma Rule D: Put a comma before a coordinating conjunction that joins two independent clauses.
For reference, not all conjunctions can be used this way, only coordinating conjunctions: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. (I use the acronym FAN BOYS to remember this list.)
Need help with commas? Get Zen Comma, an instructive reference guide on the 17 major uses and misuses of commas, available in PDF and Kindle formats. Read more about Zen Comma.