The use of comma


Could you please tell me how you find the use of the comma in the following sentences?

1- What I need you to do is[color=red][size=167],[/size] follow him and see where he lives.

2- What do you mean [size=167][color=red],[/size]I am not taking interest in my job?

3- What I really meant is[size=167][color=red],[/size] are you feeling up to it?

I would like to know the rule according to which we put a comma here! If we should put it!


Hi Tom

I don’t think I’d put a comma in any of them.
I’d possibly reword the third sentence in order to eliminate the question of whether or not you need a comma:

What I really wanted to know was whether you’re feeling up to it.


Yes, I agree with Amy :wink:

Hi Tom,

The danger with the comma is using it too much and avoiding what is known as the spot plague where you overuse it. Remember that the comma should act as a guide to indicate a slight pause in written language. This is really only necessary when you need to make a quick break in a sentence to clarify what you are saying.


I understand your points and agree with your theories, but these are not easy sentences to deal with-- they seem more to be transciptions of the spoken language, which use commas to indicate pauses for breathing and reflection more than do composed written sentences. If we consider them as the latter, however:

1- What I need you to do is, follow him and see where he lives. – The comma is wrong; we should not place a comma between S and V, and here What I need you to do is the subject of the sentence, while follow (and see) is the verb.

2- What do you mean, I am not taking interest in my job? – Here, I would keep the comma; What do you mean seems to be some sort of interjected (‘prejected’?) comment… or I am not taking interest in my job is the verb complement? This is not an easy sentence for me to analyze. If there were no What, however, the comma would be wrong: Do you mean I am not taking interest in my job?

3- What I really meant is, are you feeling up to it? – here, are you feeling up to it is the object; again, the verb should not be separated from it by a comma; still, ‘is are’ is confusing, so I would take Amy’s advice and restructure somehow.

These are just my opinions. As Alan says, the two basics are brevity and clarity: is the sentence short and clear enough to avoid commas?-- if so, do so.

I am simply grateful–millions of thanks to all of you! :smiley:



An interesting topic, thank you.

Avoiding commas as much as possible, yes… as the main rule. :slight_smile:

By the way, from what I see/read, Alan, you seem to be the most successful forum’s moderators in avoiding commas. :slight_smile:
They actually rare occur in your posts, even though the meaning (of not short sentences) is quite clear.

Very special ‘light writing’.
Thanks you. :slight_smile: