TrinityUnderdog has likely mentioned this before. I am a bit of a grammar Nazi. Perhaps my biggest pet peeve are commas. Use them. Correctly. Without fail. Sentences are different when commas are used. There’s a big difference between “I like cooking my family and my pets” and “I like cooking, my family, and my pets.”

If you’re going for the psychopath route, then I highly recommend using as few commas as possible. However, if you’d like to actually sound like a sane member of society, please learn to use commas and use them. They are just like the blinkers on your car. They serve a purpose, and they should be used for that purpose. Of course, just like the blinkers on your car, the proper use of commas are rarely seen in today’s world.

So, allow me to educate you, just as I educate the 5th graders in my classroom. Here are four key times to use commas:

  • Making a list. I like burgers, sushi, and pizza.
  • Connecting sentences with a conjunction. I like burgers, but I don’t like spicy chicken sandwiches.
  • Dialogue. “I love rain showers,” she whispered.
  • After introductory elements. When I was young, I had a hamster.

As with many things in the English language, the best rule of thumb is to read it out loud to yourself. With commas, you listen for the natural pauses. Commas give a reader a chance to “breathe”. Without these visual breaths, your writing will become awkward to read – especially for grammar Nazis like myself.

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