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Writing Well

What is missing from these sentences?

I will not revise the draft at this point so the final should look the same.
If not, we will send the final report by itself and you could send the original to accounting.

We would like to purchase the product but we do not have the budget right now.

Right! You guessed it! They are missing the comma before the coordinating conjunction. (Wasn’t that just on the tip of your tongue?)

We are not going into the whole rigmarole about coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. We will focus here on one kind of conjunction and its pal, the comma. 

In the Worktalk business writing training, we explain that commas serve three functions. They introduce, separate, and enclose.

Introduce:                   As you know, we are closed on Sunday.
  Once again, they won the award.
Separate: If you’re happy and you know itclap your hands.
  The plumbing is new, which is an added benefit.
  First I saw her walking her dog, and then I saw her duck.
Enclose: Angelawho has known me all my life, is coming with us.

As you can see, commas separate many things. One of their main roles is to separate independent clauses that are connected by a coordinating conjunction.

In plain English, an independent clause is a group of words that has a noun and a verb (subject and predicate), and that can stand alone. It represents a distinct thought.

A coordinating conjunction is a word that connects parts of a sentence that are of the same order or rank. These conjunctions often connect independent clauses. Coordinating conjunctions spell out the acronym FANBOYS. Place a comma before these conjunctions.The comma represents a pause between the thoughts. The FANBOYS conjunctions are:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So
FANBOYS Sentences
  • I am going to sleep, for I am tired.
  • We went to the restaurant, and then we went to the theater.
  • We are not going to the party, nor are we going to the show.
  • He would like to apply for the job, but he lacks the qualifications.
  • He is a quiet person, yet he has a lot to say when you get to know him.
  • I am hungry, so I am going to eat lunch.
Writers often omit these commas. This lack of punctuation leads the reader to plunge headlong through the sentence without seeing where she can look up, take a breath, or parse the sentence into its component thoughts. 

Commas are our friends: They tell the reader’s eye which words belong together. In future Writamins, we will explore more facets of the magical world of commas. For now, just remember to put a comma before your FANBOYS.
For a more comprehensive description of comma usages, see Purdue OWL’s web site athttps://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02/
Or take a look at Jane Strauss’s Grammarbook.com

(c) 2016 Elizabeth Danziger all rights reserved.
 Read Writamins on these topics:

Emailing Effectively

Writing Well

Choosing the Right Word

Thoughts on Writing

Writing Within Organizations

Bad writing is costly. Good writing builds relationships and productivity. Improve the business writing and email in your organization by offering business writing and email training programs from Worktalk. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information.

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Why choose WorkTalk trainings?

  • Taught by a professional writer. +

    These courses are not taught by a general skills trainer who happens to teach writing. Elizabeth Danziger has been published by major publishing houses such as Random House and Harcourt Brace. Her work has appeared in many national magazines. She is an expert writer and editor who brings her knowledge as a resource to participants.
  • Customized. +

    Every Worktalk training is customized to the client's needs. We meet with you, analyze writing samples from your organization, and customize our training to target the specific challenges that employees in your organization face.
  • Energetic and entertaining. +

    With plenty of exercises and opportunities for interaction, the Worktalk trainings move quickly. Subjects that were terrifying in grammar school become fun and interesting in these outstanding programs.
  • Proven results. +

    In trainings all over the country, Ms. Danziger has enabled participants to streamline their organizing process, eliminate persistent errors, and drastically cut their revision time. Clients spend less time on key communications while producing better relationships and results. Sales people get more positive responses from prospects.
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