6- When introducing time or place.
On a gorgeous Saturday morning, Laura found herself making out with Gyles, the private investigator, into a very small closet.
Lately writers tend to use as few commas as they can. The general impression is that they slow the narration and might not be necessary.
Below is a paragraph where I chose to omit some commas (in parentheses) because of personal choice and style, not rules.
KEEPING ONLY NECESSARY COMMAS:
It was a gorgeous Saturday in mid May(,) and Dad had driven Mom, Viola, her bestie, and me to Como Lake. The lungolago, the walk along the lake, was an explosion of azaleas, lavender(,) and geranium. We were only a forty-five minute drive from Arese, but it seemed like a different world. Palm trees lined the cobblestone walk that wrapped around the calm dark waters of the lake, pierced by the characteristic posts painted in white and blue swirls, resembling those of American barbers. I had no idea if they were meant for boats to dock or to prevent them to get too close to the shore.Tall, dark mountains hugged the lake. Pastel-colored houses with bright white or dark green shutters were staggered on their slopes, red-tiled roofs contrasting against the lush forest surrounding them.
Making sense? I hope this helps ^_^
Questions? Write to me at gaia.b.amman at gmail.com
1-...You want to separate two independent clauses. Say what? Independent clauses are independent sentences, sentences that make sense on their own.
Charles wanted to talk to Laura, and he wanted to tell her that Gyles had cheated.
The two sentences above are independent because each one on its own would make sense and be “complete”.
-Charles wanted to talk to Laura
-He wanted to tell her that Gyles had cheated
Each one of these sentences has a subject, a verb, and an object. They are self-standing.
nonono*** Charles wanted to see Laura, and talk about Gyles.*** nonono
While the first sentence is independent (Charles wanted to see Laura) the second cannot stand on its own (talk about Gyles) because the subject is missing.
2-...you want to add a detail that is not required. Basically you use commas in place of parentheses.
Gyles, in his angered state, could not stop to think about Laura.
As you can see the two commas separate a sentence that is not independent on its own, but if you omitted what is included between them the rest would still make sense.
Gyles could not stop thinking about Laura.
3-Commas can be placed before FANBOYS (KEEPING IN MIND RULE 1). FANBOYS is an acronym to remember FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR, YET, SO.
4-Before a verb in ending in -ing supporting a sentence.
Ultimately t’s up to you and, with time, you will develop a good ear for commas, placing them only when necessary.
In the above sentence I used commas for case 2 and 4 :)
5- In lists separating items.
I wanted to talk to Laura, Gyles, and Charles.
The conundrum of the Oxford comma: people have been arguing about the “Oxford comma” the comma that separates the last two item on a list. Do you need it or not? It is funny to me how people feel strongly about this. Personally I don’t think the rule has to be black or white. In some cases the Oxford comma is necessary because its absence changes the meaning of the sentence.
Laura found herself lock in a closet with Gyles, a pervert and a private investigator.
Laura found herself lock in a closet with Gyles, a pervert, and a private investigator.
How many people are in the closet?