Sunday, March 03, 2019

The Power of a Comma

I have to admit it, some commas are unsightly sometimes. But that shouldn't prevent us from using them. In fact, just because a comma may not look that pretty in a particular position doesn't mean we should just skip it. Because if we do, the meaning of the sentence may not be clear.

For example, today, Maya, my ex-girlfriend, wrote to me a list of times I could meet her to give her back her dog. Check out what what she wrote.

Which way is good for you [to give me back the dog]?

1. Tonight at 22:15 at the pool.
2. Tonight at 22:45 at the train station.
3. Tomorrow very early before your work at the train station.

Did you see in which of the three sentences there was some confusion? It was "3." 

According to what she wrote, she is asking me if I would like to give the dog back tomorrow very early before my work begins at the train station. But I don't work at the train station, and she knows that. 

What she meant was, "Would I like to give her back the dog very early tomorrow before my work begins, at the train station. Putting that comma in there -- after the word "begins" -- even though it's a bit unsightly, lets the reader know that that prepositional phrase "at the train station" has nothing to do with words "before your work begins."

Ah, the power of a comma. 

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