Say a big hello to the FANBOYS of grammar: FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR, YET, and SO.
Their official names are coordinating conjunctions. It's no wonder they prefer to be called FANBOYS!
The FANBOYS may look harmless, but don't be fooled: they have the tendency to muscle into unsuspecting sentences. Unfortunately, they delight in causing comma confusion wherever they land. To clear some of that confusion, I'll review the comma rules one at a time.
COMMA RULE #1: Always put a comma before a FANBOY if it's joining two complete sentences together.
Let's start with two simple sentences, both standing alone nicely.
Sentence #1: It's raining cats and dogs.
Sentence #2: I can't find my umbrella.
Now let's use AND to combine them into one. Do we need a comma before AND? YES! YES! YES!
It's raining cats and dogs, and I can't find my umbrella.
In grammar, Sentence #3 gets a fancy name all it's own: a COMPOUND sentence. If you write or see a sentence with a FANBOY, ask yourself this question: could I break this into two separate sentences? If the answer is YES, put a comma before the FANBOY! If NO...stay tuned for the next spoonful, which will also feature a funny poem by Doug Florian.
That's it for this spoonful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. You can comment right here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Fineberg Cooper