search
top

Commas and FANBOYS

comma

Commas, commas everywhere! Yes, I’m talking about everyone’s least-favourite, most-misunderstood bit of punctuation, the lowly comma, yet again.

Here’s a sentence with two variations.

He stomped down the stairs and left the house in a rage.

He stomped down the stairs, and he left the house in a rage.

So what’s the difference? Why does the second have a comma but not the first?

In the first sentence, you do not have a complete phrase (with a subject and a verb) in the second half of the sentence. You have a verb (left) but no subject. In the second, you have both a subject (he) and a verb (left). That’s your first clue that you’ll need a comma.

The second clue is the presence of the conjunction “and,” which is one of the FANBOYS, the conjunctions which call for a comma IF the part of the sentence following said conjunction is complete with subject and verb.

So what are the FANBOYS?

For

And

Nor

But

Or

Yet

So

FANBOYS

I’ve been editing for clients quite a bit lately, and this is one of the most common mistakes I see: putting commas where there isn’t a FANBOYS or not putting one where there is.

It’s one of the easiest errors to correct in your writing, too. An easy mnemonic. An easy search for subjects and verbs.

The man entered his home, and he found his wife waiting for him in the living room.

The man entered his home and found his wife waiting for him in the living room.

She smiled at her husband and gave him the good news.

She smiled at her husband, and she gave him the good news.

Granted, these aren’t great sentences, but they show the FANBOYS in action.

One Response to “Commas and FANBOYS”

  1. Wendy Luane says:

    Thanks a lot for that. Clears things up.
    Wendy Luane recently posted..Start, Stop, Start

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Note: This post is over 2 months old. You may want to check later in this blog to see if there is new information relevant to your comment.

By submitting a comment here you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.

top