I Love These Two Rules

I love this quotation, attributed to both Gustave Flaubert and Oscar Wilde (take your pick): “I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.”

Guys, I hear you. I’ve been there. Sometimes the rules aren’t much help. Back and forth I go.

Luckily some rules seem to work every time. Here are two of them:

1. Don’t put a comma in front of a parenthesis.

2. Don’t let a comma touch the word “that.”

Rule #1 is infallible. There are no exceptions. Rule #2 is a little slippery, but it works maybe 99% of the time. Those odds are good enough for me.

Do you want examples? Sure!

1. That pygmy date palm (Phoenix robellinii), which we installed two years ago, is the focal point of our front yard.

2. It took me a long time to convince her that we should switch to term life insurance.


Leave a Reply