Friday, April 5, 2013

Grammar Day: FANBOYS

Grammar is a tricky subject. With all the rules and exceptions, how can a person keep track? I can't answer that, but I can help with little pieces here and there.

Today's Topic: FANBOYS

I was recently reminded of this helpful acronym. It's a tool to remember where commas belong.

Basic Rule: When connecting two independent clauses (complete sentences), place a comma before all of the following words:
  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So
Sharon bought new shoes, and ran a mile.
Could be: Sharon bought new shoes. She ran a mile.
Jake made some gloves, but didn't use them.
Could be: Jake made some glove. He didn't use them.

Any Exceptions? I think there are always exceptions when dealing with commas.

#1: When one clause is dependent on the other (not a complete sentence), there is no comma.
Robert bought new shoes and socks.
"And socks" could not be a sentence, so a comma isn't needed.

#2: A comma can be omitted when independent clauses (complete sentences) are short. (This exception doesn't apply under traditional punctuation rules.)
She smiled and ran to hug him.
Could be: She smiled. She ran to hug him. 

Since "She smiled." is a short sentence, the comma isn't necessary.

Conclusion: It helps to use FANBOYS, but it's not perfect. (See what I did there?)

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