Grammar has never been my thing.
I loved diagramming sentences in middle school, but the finer details have always escaped me.
I suppose that’s par for the course as I also have a tendency to skip directions, skim long descriptions in novels, and not put the last book/cup/stray sock in its place. When I weed a garden, a bucketful of weeds usually linger beside the garden long enough to kill the grass beneath it.
I’m an idea person.
So, the bigger grammatical elements I can handle; it’s the nitpicky stuff that trips me up.
Which is why my favorite person in the publishing process is the copy editor. The copy editor keeps me from sounding like I barely passed sixth grade English.
I recently received the proof for my book that’s coming out in August and there were over 400 marks on it. (YES, that’s a lot, even for me.)
And yes, the book had already been copyedited. The proofreader, though, seems to be a zealous person. A nit-picker of nit-pickers, which, I suppose you want in a proofreader.
Many of the nits she was picking pertained to my voice, so my editor and I decided we’d stet most of her marks, which is a fancy way of saying we’d ignore them. (stet= Latin for ‘let it stand’)
Many more of the marks were additional commas she’d added to make my overly long sentences clearer. Okay, maybe.
I’ve spent the better part of my week considering those commas. I’m only more confused, but at least Frankie has finally realized I’m not talking to him as I read sentence after sentence out loud with and without a comma. He no longer jumps off the futon in hopes of a treat each time he hears my voice.
The marks that pushed me over the edge, though, are the commas placed before the word ‘too.’
Everywhere the word appeared, the proofreader had inserted a comma preceding it.
I spent the entire day learning about commas, too.
Until a month ago, I had always put a comma before the word too, too.
But during the copy editing process, the copy editor had removed all my commas proceeding the word too at the end of a sentence. When I saw that, I thought—wait, wait, I don’t know much about grammar, but I KNOW there should be a comma before the word too!
A little research turned up the cold, hard, truth – my middle school English teacher was wrong.
That. Rocked. My. World.
Do you know how many times I’ve written a comma before the word too incorrectly? Do you know how many times that incorrect comma has been published?
Now, here was this proofreader reinserting every comma the copy editor had removed.
AGH! Who to trust? I posed the question to my editor and she said, The copy editor.
To prevent you from ever losing sleep over the use of a comma before the word too, let me set the record straight:
From no less than Grammarly, my go-to and permanently installed editor (which is a FREE Chrome extension- YOU should download it now!):
When using the word too, you only need to use a comma before it for emphasis. According to The Chicago Manual of Style, a comma before too should be used only to note an abrupt shift in thought. When too comes in the middle of a sentence, emphasis is almost always intended since it interrupts the natural flow of the sentence.
I, too, like bananas.
When a too comes at the end of a sentence, however, a comma is almost never needed.
I like bananas too.
So, now you know.
Always trust the copyeditor.
Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.
If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.
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COMING AUGUST 2018 FROM Pegasus Books (available for preorder now):
2 thoughts on “YOU Can Have Perfect Grammar Too!”
I feel your comma pain. When I got my first job as a reporter, I didn’t realize that I used commas with such wild abandon until I learned that the copy desk referred to me as “Susan, comma, Hunter.” I remain fond of them (the commas, not the copy desk editors) but I, too, use Grammarly to curb the worst of my tendencies. Although I am hard-headed enough to ignore its advice on occasion and go my own way.
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I love it, Susan, comma, Hunter! Keep flinging those commas with abandon -it gives the copy editors something to do. Plus, I’m pretty sure there is much more damage to be done from a missing comma than an overzealous one!
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