Stop Putting Commas Before Verbs!

My dearest internet writers who have chosen quantity over quality and eschewed the laws of grammar in the name of poorly constructed stream of consciousness sentences, this one is for you.

Rather, I suppose, it is meant for you, but it is really and truly for the grammarians and pedants of the world who will read this and agree with it and perhaps even share it, as you, my dear negligent scribes, seem to care little for those readily accessible rules you so flippantly ignore.

I don’t know where or when this horrendous trend started. Perhaps it’s been around as long as language itself, but one can hope that once upon a time the gatekeepers of publishing knew the proper rules of comma use and with a flick and a finagle would fix your writing to be readable. But as you, my overzealous bloggers, made such gatekeepers obsolete, their apparently arcane skills have been lost to history.

Stop putting commas between subjects and verbs.

Just don’t do it, okay? It’s wrong, it’s bad, and it makes me so very sad. ’Tis possible you were taught to add a comma when one might take a breath, because the laws of language were less important to your English teacher than the elusive spirit of the muse or the way poetry speaks to the soul. Sometimes that tactic works. Usually it doesn’t. Usually it places a comma smack in the middle of a sentence that doesn’t need one because your lung capacity is not as long-winded as you are.

So stop doing that. If your noun and your verb are part of the same clause, no matter how many prepositional phrases and asides you string together between them or before them, there should be no grammatical break. It’s all the same thought. Offset your phrases and clauses, sure. But take all your awkward, breathy commas and throw them in the trash where they belong, along with all your pluralizing apostrophes and adverbial dialogue tags.

If the first half of your sentence meanders enough that you feel, to avoid confusion, that you need a comma before your verb, you need to rewrite the sentence. Full stop. Your consciousness should never be streamed sans grammar, and big, long sentences don’t make you sound smart if you don’t know how to write them. Master the basics of sentence structure and comma use, then complicate things from there. Your serpentine structure with wanton commas is doing nothing for you, trust me.

So my dear, sweet, faux fact peddling reporters, I hope you read this and change your apathetic ways, though I have a sneaking suspicion that won’t be the case. But, at the very least, please, do the rest of us a favor: forget anyone ever told you to add a comma every time you take a breath. I would be so very grateful.