Episode 11 marks the return of the “2 Minute Approval Tips” video series. We’ll make this quick!
This video series is meant to give you tips for getting your articles approved on the first submission every time. We looked back at submission records to find common reasons why articles aren’t approved initially. Then, we compressed that information into individual 2-minute videos to save you time.
This episode focuses on proper comma usage. Commas can make or break the meaning of your writing. If they’re used in the right way, they’ll help you get your point across. If not, they could cause your message to get lost in translation.
In this video, I share a two-part tip for the proper use of commas.
A Quick Recap of the 11th “2 Minute Approval Tip”
There are two parts to today’s tip: using commas to separate items in a list and using commas to separate adjectives of equal rank.
- List Items
First, when listing a series of adjectives or nouns, use commas to separate individual elements. For example, in the sentence:
“In college, I learned how to speak German, French and Spanish.”
… you put a comma between the words “German” and “French” to show that they are individual elements. It’s a matter of preference whether you put a comma between the last two list items. The current accepted style by the Associated Press stylebook is to leave it out.
- Separating Adjectives
Another rule that we see causing problems is the use of commas to separate adjectives of equal rank. Many people think that if you have two adjectives next to each other in a sentence, you always separate them with a comma. This isn’t always the case. You only apply this rule when both adjectives describe, or modify, the same noun. Take these sentences, for example:
DOESN’T Modify Same Noun
- He is a fantastic mystery writer.
- We drove by the old-fashioned colonial house.
- That’s how you become a fast cross-country runner.
Modifies Same Noun
- I’m going to submit more high-quality, original articles to EzineArticles.
- The long, arduous journey took ten days.
- Expect to be greeted by knowledgeable, considerate residents.
Notice, there aren’t any commas in the first set of sentences, but they are present in the second set. In the second set, each adjective describes the noun of the sentence separately. When deciding whether to use a comma in these situations, use the “and” trick. Substitute the word “and” where the comma would go. If that changes the sentence meaning, you don’t need the comma. If it still makes sense, you need the comma.
An alternate test is to flip the order of the two adjectives. If the meaning is still the same, you need the comma.
Also, watch comma usage when separating clauses, adding non-essential information and when you’re writing out dates, geographical names and numbers greater than 1,000.
To check out the entire “2 Minute Approval Tips” series, click here. Put this and all the other “2 Minute Approval Tips” to good use by writing your next set of high-quality, original articles for more traffic back to your website or blog. Also, leave a comment to share your own spelling and grammar tips.