You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 4

So, you are the author of your dissertation or thesis. If you do the preparation work well and focus your topic, if you know you are adding to the existing body of knowledge out there, you can weather a difficult advisor and advisory committee.

A dysfunctional  advisory team

Be clear that there are two extremes with your advisory team, neither of them easy. This could apply to any one person on the team or a number of people.

Too much help

To start with, an over-helpful team member. Here are  two points about what the over-involved person might do:

  1. Be too demanding of you and not allow you your voice and thoughts. Everything you or anyone else says is wrong and must be done that person’s way.
  2. Be inflexible and demanding to the point that you are given incorrect writing help. Editors experience this especially with incorrect knowledge of formatting or house style. How about a few choice examples:
  • Never use passive voice: no such thing. The idea is to minimize the use of passive voice.
  • An APA favorite: write all numbers below 10 as words. Not true. APA has very clear rules about when numbers below 10 must be written as numbers and not words.
  • Frankly, the list is long. I’ve been known people who try to help make actual grammatical mistakes and insist they are correct. That is why tracking is important.

Interfering help is not helpful and is very burdensome. Doctoral and thesis work is already stressful and overbearing help can leave a student really confused or at a loss about how to handle such a person. When an academic editor has to navigate such a person, it usually means diluting the edit slightly. There are often academic hoops to jump and this may be one that needs jumping to keep the peace.

Next up, what too little help means.

Word Building with Chunks

This is getting serious now. Another language teaser.


  1. I had to write them down and play around with them.
  2. Actually cutting each piece up and moving them around works like a dream and is a great way to add to one’s vocab.

Below, 10 nine letter words have been broken into chunks of three letters.

These chunks have been mixed up, no chunk is used twice and all chunks are used.

Can you determine what the 10 words are?

cer ent ead rat uti spr
ful oun pro ann ope ockr
nce een oat est liv ionr
nou sev ion ast hou akfr
bre bea ens dim bed sebr

Continue reading

You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 3

You, your advisor and advisory team


What to do with this powerful team of academic help? If there is a good balance, all will proceed along a normal bumpy writing route.

But frankly, achieving a balance in the help you receive is not always easy.

  1. The less confident you are, the more you are going to want help.
  2. Of course, then the more help you receive, the more confused you are going to be.
  3. Receiving little help speaks for itself. Trouble and much extra effort on your part.
  4. Finding a good impartial academic editor to pull all the parts together and warn if there is still a content problem becomes even more essential when dealing with difficult advisory teams.

Ironically enough, both an involved team and uninvolved team can cause problems for an academic editor.

  • The interfering person usually wants to override good advice.
  • The non-involved person gives no added guidance that an editor can include to ensure the work is on the right track for your school.

But at the very least, make sure you are equipped to do some basic self-editing. Such knowledge will also allow you to recognize good help when offered so you can select what is best for you. Download your own handy copy of the Language Online 21 Proofreading Tips to help guide you through some self-editing to be sure you work becomes really powerful.

And if you like your student friends, be sure to let them know about the guide. Anyone can download it. Simply use the Share It link to email or post.

One Similarity for

Another language brain teaser.

scraughed, scrinched, scritched, scrooched, sprainged, spreathed, throughed, thrutched, strengths, straights, scratched, scrounged, scrunched, stretched, screeched, scraunched, broughams, and craunched.

All these words have one thing in common. I agree that some are really odd words.

What is it?

Continue reading

You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 2

So who else is involved in your thesis or doctoral journey. A reminder, you first, and of course an academic editor at some point.

Advisor and Committee

Next is your advisor/chair/supervisor/mentor/professor. I’ll just refer to a advisor from now on.

An advisor is there to guide you and encourage you. Likewise with your advisory committee members.

  1. If you are fortunate, everyone officially involved with your work will be interested enough in you and your process to give you sufficient guidance. Consider yourself lucky.
  2. Too much help, especially if it is pedantic is painful though. So much so that you will be unsure whose ideas to follow. Know that this situation is an added complication.
  3. If you are unfortunate, you will get so little help, you will not know before critical moments like submission of the proposal and submission of the dissertation or defense that there is a problem. Consider yourself very unlucky.

So your team is growing: you + academic editor + mentor + advisory team. The trick is to make sure you are well-equipped for the journey. Use a combination of the school’s resources and online resources. Language Online has much to offer. Browse and see what works for you.

Share the Language Online information with some of your cohort. Click below and email or post.

You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 1

You and Your editor.

Understanding the role of the various players in your thesis or doctoral writing is really important. If you don’t, you could end up confused, frustrated, angry and disillusioned. And all because you were not clear about who is supposed to do what. My focus is obviously the academic editor’s role, in particular the copy editor.

The copy editor is the one who is supposed to play the supportive role and help from the sidelines. The person who should in fact have no direct affiliation with your school, so some semblance of objectivity can be included.

Your job as a student is to read, plan, write, clarify your problem statement or research questions, and write and write, conduct research, analyze outcomes, and conclude and suggest. This is one mammoth task. Good reason it can takes many years, much energy, much time, and much money. But it is your role and no one else’s.

Also a good idea to start early with an academic editor. Work together chapter by chapter. Then have the proposal checked. And right at the end of the journey the whole thesis or dissertation. See what resources the person or website offers and use them. Like this blog. Or receiving regular grammar tips.

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The Forest for the Trees

I can’t help myself. I love word games and teasers. Recently I stumbled onto the website. I was particularly taken with the language type teasers. Will share a few, but they are straight from the braingle site. Nothing added by me.

In each sentence the name of a tree is hidden. The willow is hiding in the first sentence. Can you find the others?

  1. I will owe you a favor if you drive me to the airport.
  2. I am afraid of going up in elevators.
  3. Drinking cocoa keeps me warm on long winter nights.
  4. I hope the map leads us to buried treasure.
  5. “Eat another bonbon,” said our charming hostess.
  6. Nepal may be the most interesting place I have ever visited.
  7. Remember to fold the map, please.
  8. I feel many lumps in this mattress.
  9. Word processing is not as useful as pens and paper for creative brainstorming.

Continue reading

From a Course to a Degree

To finish this series of posts I had the following thoughts about how students often get to the point of studying online. This is particularly true for returning adult students.

Often studying seriously starts with doing a short course. Could be for your own interest or for work. That is exactly how my husband started.

  • He started with a short course recommended and paid-for by his work.
  • This in turn led to a certified course.
  • Then he really became interested in doing his degree.
  • But he was in his 30’s, married, had a job, was busy building a house, so guess what?
  • There was no chance of attending university onground and full-time or even at a brick and mortar school part-time.
  • So it had to be part-time, and more particularly it had to long distance.

The good news is what started out as studying mainly by post gradually started shifting to online. Okay, this was dark ages as in the last century (giggle), but today the options for studying online are endless.

Most local colleges and many traditional universities offer some or all courses and programs online. And then of course the traditionally well-known online universities like the University of Phoenix, DeVry, Kaplan, and Capella offer a wide selection of programs online. I think often the criticism leveled against online universities is because they offer a full range, from single courses all the way to 4-year degrees and master’s and doctoral programs. Not understanding the full range is where the confusion about the level of the education comes in. People end up judging a school by its starter and often fun courses. Silly really.

So start with a course, get the feel of the online process, and the world is at your feet.

Do share your own experiences: ShareThis button or comment.

Online Courses and Fields

You might also be wondering if some courses or fields of study are more suited to online studies than others.

Because of the nature of technology, the basics and theory of almost any course can be taught online. Type “online universities” into your browser and surprise yourself. Expect to see courses for

  • business
  • education
  • administration
  • marketing and advertising
  • human resources
  • nursing and pharmaceutical
  • law
  • and much more.
  • Don’t forget military education and technology.

Of course schools specialize. That is part of what you will investigate when researching a suitable university. Find a school that focuses on your interests or level of training like a diploma, an associate degree, a 4-year bachelors degree, a master’s, and a doctoral degree.

Interestingly enough, most so-called traditional schools have online aspects, either classes or full degree programs.

And also of interest is that the 5 schools I mentioned in the last post have both online and onground/offline classes and courses, but they are known for being online universities.

Now what are online schools’ specialties? I was simply putting your mind at ease about the legitimacy of studying online and where to start and what to check initially. Now it is really up to you to research what each school offers in terms of content and support. Consider it the beginning of your online journey.

Welcome to ShareThis, be it by email or to your social groups.

With Which Online Universities Should One Start One’s Research?

I was unsure whether to discuss which online universities are available. But since I mentioned Yale, Princeton, and Harvard, I might as well be bold and mention some of the online universities I see all the time.

I’ve had contact with students from all the online universities I plan to mention, so I know that just like any university, the success of the students from these universities is about how hard the student works. All reputable universities have their share of lazy students and hardworking students.

I feel it is useful to have a starting point so one can compare ones findings and find the university that suits your needs. Please be aware that I’m only talking about online American Universities. The world is a big place and there are many great online universities throughout the world.

These are well-known online universities. Each has its specialties.

  • DeVry University
  • Kaplan University
  • The University of Phoenix
  • Capella University
  • AIU Online

These all have solid reputations. Use their criteria to further your research of which online school suits you.

Would be nice to hear from instructors and learners at the above schools or other schools and what they offer and what works. Exactly what that cute ShareThis icon below is for. Let folk know so they come leave a comment. And of course, please leave your own thought via the Comment button.

Some More Thoughts about Online Accreditation

Which universities does one think about when one thinks traditional, respected, and accredited?

Most of us can real off a few personal favorites. But here is the interesting point. When you think about a traditional, brick and mortar university, do you ever think accreditation? I guess most times one assumes the accreditation is in place. I certainly never remember thinking accreditation when I first studied at my brick and mortar university.

So which universities are well known? How about Harvard, Princeton, and Yale for starters? Bet you’ve heard of those three. What did they have to do to be accredited. Quite simply they had to meet special predetermined criteria and maintain those criteria to keep their accreditation. So it is not a case of you are accredited and that’s it forever. On the contrary, standards have to be maintained.

Guess what? Online universities go through the same stringent requirements. I’ve been around when a new university or a newly acquired university was busy working towards accreditation. It takes work to achieve and some really hard work to maintain accreditation. But that is your barometer about the well-being of school. So if you have any concerns, do the work and check.

If you want the detail of accreditation, research it. Everything is available for those who want the details. Or be kind and share the information right here by using the ShareThis icon.

Saved by the Bell

Having read about how dangerous eating and drinking could be …

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So the obvious solution was to dig up coffins and take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave.

But … When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they started tying a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night.

Hence the saying:


The graveyard shift


They would be required to listen for the bell and in doing so save someone who seemed dead and had been buried.


And hence a saying I hear often still:

Saved by the bell

or one I hear less often

A dead ringer


The English language has tons of similar stories, but that’s me for this round.

The Self-Discipline of Online Studying

Here’s the rub. Studying online is hard work. Why? The discipline all rests with you. It is up to you to find a routine and stick to it. It is up to you to find those extra moments to put to good use.

The action of having to go to class means you are getting regular input. It is easy to let online classes slide. If you do not make a regular conscious effort to keep up to date with your online studies, you will be in trouble. Note I said regular. There is a point beyond which it becomes impossible to catch up if you are not a motivated, organized student when online. All that advice about being disciplined, having good study habits, having good reading and writing skills, all of that is even more important with online studying.

The trade off, you can work when at your best, wherever you are.

Just yesterday I had to do the tedious drive to and from the doctor, the wait, the X-ray, back to the doctor, and the pharmacist routine. I barely noticed the hours drag by. I had my ipod and ereader with me and some material I’m busy teaching myself. A brilliant use of time. And the extra bonus, it was midmorning when I’m at my best.

So studying online allows you to access your work from anywhere, a hotel, home, work, the sky is literally the limit :roll:. Often you can access your classes from any computer. You can download files, audio, video to use on devices that suit your learning style.

All of this means convenience, convenience and of course self-discipline and more self-discipline.

Holding a Wake

Still on the topic of food and drink and the dangers of taking anything into your body.

Not only could the lead in the pewter plates hurt you, so could the lead cups used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination of alcohol and lead would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.

Of course they were not necessarily dead. The folk back then simply knew that sometimes the apparently dead woke up. So they were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

Hence the custom and saying:

Holding a wake.


Again, the custom of eating and drinking has survived (usually the body is safely at the morgue or at the very least in a casket).

Makes one think!

Online education = Distance Learning

Immediate access to an editor

I’m so used to talking online and onground that I forget that online education is in fact distance education and onground education is the good old brick and mortar setup.

Before the internet, distance education was about receiving and sending your work via the postal service. That was great and had its place. It is not completely dead, but let’s face it, online means immediate access. I doubt that successful distance education will ever move back to the postal service. Postal gives you some flexibility, but of course we are living in a world of immediate communication and access.

Let me give some examples of how flexible online academic education is from my perspective.

Language Online often has one-to-one contact between students and tutors and editors. So we get to hear where students are physically situated at the moment they are in touch.

Let me share: babysitting the neighbors’ child or babysitting the grandchildren (how’s that for across the generations 😀 ), at a conference in a hotel, at work, on the plane, or my favorite, on a bus in China. Actually quite often we hear from folk at hospitals keeping vigil with friends or family. Such dedication is awesome. As you can tell this all about laptops and wireless access. Technology at its best.

I simply love that we are all so connected and that the educational playing field is so level. Gives a completely new meaning to distance education. Allows everyone the luxury of easy access to editing as well.

I’d appreciate your thoughts. Use the comment option, below right, or use the ShareThis button below left to share with a friend.

The Upper Crust

The last post did not have a saying. This one does again.

My story is short and simple. A reminder that we are still talking about the 1500s.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Tough life back then.

Hence the saying:

The upper crust.

The saying did also come to mean the top echelons of society.


What About an Online Academic Editing Service?

Before thinking more about online schools let me digress a little. The checklist for validating an educational institution and an online academic editing service differs. It is really about scale. I’m going to focus on Language Online, of course.

Unlike a school, an online editing service is often just a cyberspace presence with contact by email, website, and phone. More is simply not needed depending on the size of the service. So I will not invite you to visit my compact offices, or my home, or to meet the editors in person. Most of the LOL editors work from their homes and are based all over the country, but we are always in touch with each other via the internet and phone.

However, a word of mouth referral is worth gold. Usually a professor, adviser, friend, colleague, or even family member.

One of my favorite stories is when a young student who had literally used us for a first time, got really excited when she recognized a tutor name and realized that Language Online had worked with her mother at a different school. She could not stop praising us because her mom had spoken so highly about us.

So read the testimonials of an online service, or better yet, if someone you know refers a language service, LOL in this case, you know all is well. See my earlier post about the value of referrals.

But enough about Language Online for now. We’re confident about the quality of our service.

PS Do you want to create a checklist for choosing an online editor? Read Desray J Britz’s article at Ezine Magazine.

Pewter Plates and Lead Poisening

I’ve got a few more food and drink stories.

Those with money had plates made of pewter.

Guess what? Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach into the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

I always wondered why some people thought tomotoes dangerous.

I guess this must be the reason.

Some Pointers for Finding a Good Online University

Start with making sure it is a real school and not a diploma mill.

These are just thoughts. They are simply part of your investigations. You would still need to check the actual courses and type of university. Some schools are better at some disciplines than others. But before that decision, check that the school is real!

Here’s a provisional checklist. Add some of your own as well:

  1. Do they say they are accredited? That is a good start.
  2. Check their accreditation independently.
  3. Check that there a real physical address and not just a website. Even a completely online university needs administration staff: to keep track of your records and credits, to sort out your payments.
  4. Be sure the teaching is from actual qualified faculty and not just about course material.
  5. Do not pay for a whole degree. They should only require you to pay course by course, or semester by semester. Beware diploma mills.
  6. Some kind of assessment of your skills and education level will be needed. Could include an aptitude test and entrance exam. Rejoice if these are required.
  7. Does whoever is prepared to assist with financing, like an employer, accept the school.
  8. If possible, see if anyone you know has studied with the school. Nothing like a referral to settle the nerves. But do not put too much store on one person’s experience.
  9. I think you can see where I’m going. both an online and offline aspect of an online school or course must exist. The bonus with an online course is that the school could be based anywhere and you can still study through it successfully 😎 .

Does that help focus you thoughts?

Basically this will get you started when choosing an online school.

Bring Home the Bacon

Still thinking food and how times could be hard. Meat was often not on the menu for poorer families or not available at certain times of the year.

So on those occasions when families could obtain pork, it made them feel quite special.

When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.

It was a sign of wealth that a man could bring home the bacon.

They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Now that was interesting, two saying for the price of one. 😎

Communicating in Online Classrooms

My focus remains online studying.

Brick and mortar classrooms and online classrooms differ in how everyone communicates. The trick is getting used to online communication. The difficulty is often the lack of seeing a face and the nuances one can gather when seeing faces. One just has to work out how to get the most out of an online environment.

So what could online studying include?

  • Online classes could be through chat rooms and forums.
  • Typing, audio, and video can all come into play.
  • Online platforms, like the Blackboard classroom, are very popular.
  • Classes could be synchronous or asynchronous or a combination.
  • Asynchronous is harder to get a feel of the people, but allows anyone the freedom to log on at any time and work.
  • In addition to live audio and video, often classes can be downloaded and listened to at your convenience.
  • Study material is from an online library, and downloadable ebooks, audio and video.
  • Email, voip programs, and the trusted phone (for emergencies) also help keep the human element going.

But like a traditional classroom, there will still be a teacher and fellow students. Be sure to interact to gain the full learning experience. There are ways to get to know each other:

  • Sometimes faces
  • Sometimes voices
  • Definitely writing styles

It all feels very strange at first. Getting to grips with the technology is the first hurdle. But once that is done, it becomes like sending a text message on a mobile phone: old hat and what was there to be concerned about.

I’d love to hear both professors and students (young and old) share their online experiences; both good and bad. Important to realize that online education is not for everyone. And that applies to both the student and teacher.

Peas hot, Peas cold, Peas old

And now time to ponder some sayings about food.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.

Hence the rhyme:

Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold,

peas porridge in the pot nine days old.

I’ve always loved a good stew. Even a day-old stew. But this is going to make at stew with new eyes.

And I can’t help thinking back and wondering about Grandma’s old black stove and old black pot!

Criteria for Choosing that Online School?

The Essence of choosing a school

This is one hot potato depending on whom you talk to. The consensus out there is that choosing an accredited school or course is important if you want to be marketable. When I hear arguments about worthless degrees or diplomas, it always boils down to whether the marketplace values the course and school you have chosen.

Without intending to, this immediately drives me to the next hot potato. Does one choose a for-profit school or not? The not-for-profit graduates often look down their noses at the for-profit schools. I guess this is a leftover of an era where education and business did not mix and untarnished-by-money-ivory-tower thinking was expected. Frankly, those days are gone. I do not think the argument is about money anymore, but about being ethical. The academic arena is one competitive place, and not for the feint-hearted. If you want to see academic daggers, just think tenure and the need to publish regularly. And this has nothing to do with being a for-profit institution or not.

So let’s be clear. Identify a school the marketplace respects if that is important to you and do not confuse the issue about for-profit or not-for-profit. Do your research and find reputable online schools and courses. Many traditional campuses are now offering some online courses as well. To my mind, the fact that the traditional schools are coming onboard with online courses is pretty definitive that online is the new way.

So here is the criteria. Do not be misled. Stay focused. Find what works for you in terms of

  • time
  • reputation of institution or course
  • whether it is affordable.

I love that online is becoming so ordinary. I am a firm believer that students who have greater control over their studies and are able to work at their own pace are better student and gain a better understanding of what they are studying. This would include being able to choose to have independent academic tutoring and academic editing when needed.

Dovetails exactly with what Language Online is offering and believes in.

See the changing ShareThis icon below. Include at least one friend on this discussion. And be sure to comment if you can add to the discussion.

Beware the Thresh Hold

We looked in the rafters last time. How about some floor sayings?

Originally floors were simply compacted dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.


Hence the saying:

Dirt poor.

Kind of ouch!

So what solution did the wealthy have?.They had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet (not so rosy after all), so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way.

Hence the saying:

A thresh hold.


And of course, the clean smelling bride gets carried over that threshold.



Why Study Online?

The freedom of technology if comfortable with it

I constantly see question about why people study online and observations about how technology has given us greater freedoms.

No mystery why people study further. They need a skill or qualification to further a career of themselves. Simple really. The difficulty is about access to education. The difficulties can be many or few and will differ in degree for everyone.

Some obvious problems:

  1. Finding the time to study is a big problem.
  2. Finding the right school and course/s to study is important.
      * In terms of your needs
      * In terms of what they offer
  3. Finding a school that you can afford is important.

People who have time to dedicate themselves to studying, usually at a campus, often far from home, and with financial help are not overly concerned by the above points. But once life grabs you, any attempt to continue one’s studies can be tough. Studying online has opened up the educational doors to many learners who would have otherwise been stuck.

Would love to hear what other problems students or potential students face. Just follow the comments link below right.

Be sure to click on the changing ShareThis icon below to add more problem that students face.

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

Actually some sayings are very funny. They make sense, but in the modern western world, they are really hard to imagine, especially in the cities.

Way back, houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying.

It’s raining cats and dogs.


Who Chooses an Online Editor?

I read some information recently that got me thinking all over about what is involved with choosing to study online and in turn what kind of student chooses to use an online academic editing service.

Language Online is an online editing service. Hence students who are comfortable with being online are the ones most likely to use our service. That often translates into students who study online in some way. That could be studying only online, or taking a combination of onground and online classes, namely blended education.

My point is students must not be scared of

  • computers
  • the internet
  • transmitting data online
  • paying online.

If any of the 4 factors cause anxiety, we are not likely to see the student. Younger students, who often seemed hard wired for technology, usually have no problem using online resources. Older students are more circumspect. However, they often see the value of getting editing or tutoring help more than a younger person does, and hence once past the anxiety of using the computer, they are amazing to work with.

I think I’ll explore some ideas about online studying.

So more next time.

Babies and Bath Water

I have a few snippets about English customs and English language sayings.The fun part is that many are shared when one visits William Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon. Then I read them more recently and decided to share.

After all they make me smile 😛 .

In the 1500s, most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June . However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

What does it say about us still doing the same old thing?

But there is the one I really like because it is a favorite saying.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying:

Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water..


A Final Thought About Commas

Simple Comma Rules Observations

The rules may seem quite complicated at first. Just remember that, as with anything, it takes practice to get used to rules, and it may seem slow-going when trying to identify the problems in your own writing. Given time and concerted effort though, using these comma rules will become second nature.

(PS Can you recognize and name the above commas in the above paragraph? First look and decide. I’ll give the answers at the end of the post.)

The all important rule that will make things easier is the basic sentence unit. Just remember to keep the main clause intact and offset extra information with commas.

There are in fact other comma rules, but they are pretty specific. What I tried to achieve with the comma blog posts was to cover the day-to-day usages.

Just so you are familiar with some of the names of the rules not covered, here is a list. As always, sources will differ with how they name them and whether they are in fact even separate rules. But this is how I view them and teach them and use them!

  1. Commas between equal adjectives
  2. Commas with dates, addresses, place names, and long numbers
  3. Commas with direct quotations
  4. Commas with longer contrasting elements
  5. Commas to ensure clarity
  6. Commas when words are omitted

(PS The answers: two nonessential commas, a coordinate comma, and an introductory comma.)

Last chance to give me some comments about this series of blogs about using commas comfortably.

Series Comma Exercises

Apply your New Found Guidelines

Missing commas:

  1. The Constitution establishes the legislative executive and judicial branches of government.
  2. Anna married at the age of seventeen had three children by twenty-two and divorced by thirty.
  3. I’d like to thank my parents, Tom and Tessa.
  4. Alice James, William and Henry’s sister, experienced a life in her father’s siblings’ shadows consulted numerous doctors about her nerves had a series of breakdowns and never fully realized a life of her own.

Correct comma usage:

  1. The Constitution establishes the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
    A simple list of words.
  2. Anna married at the age of seventeen, had three children by twenty-two, and divorced by thirty.
    Slightly more complex list of phrases.
  3. This sentence depends on the meaning and is actually quite fun.
    If the parents are called Tom and Tessa, then the punctuation is correct.
    If not and you mean your parents AND Tom and Tessa, add commas.
    I’d like to thank my parents, Tom,and Tessa.
  4. Alice James, William and Henry’s sister, experienced a life in her father’s siblings’ shadows, consulted numerous doctors about her nerves, had a series of breakdowns, and never fully realized a life of her own.
    This sentence is plain horrible, but it demonstrates the point.

Believe it or not, that’s it for comma rules! I do have some final thoughts about commas, but the detail is done.

Now’ is the moment for some choices on your part:

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