Writing Glitch #416

Today’s glitch:

What do we want?

Commas for compound sentences!

When do we want them?


*clears throat*

As you probably guessed, the example sentence is compound and thus requires a comma before the conjunction. Add a comma after wedding day.

Now, during the reception is a nonrestrictive clause, which is supposed to be separated from the rest of the sentence with commas, but since it follows immediately after a conjunction, you may omit the comma before the nonrestrictive clause. (You may add a comma before during if you want, but you don’t have to.)

It’s your wedding day, and during the reception, your partner tells you they are from the future.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to Writing Glitch #416

  1. curioushart says:

    Who are “they?” The in-laws?
    Another question: If the Brothers McMullen is capitalized, would that apply to Grandparents Smith, to indicate two people who are grandparents with the same last name?


    • In modern usage, the pronoun “they” is sometimes construed as singular when the gender of the person referred to is not known. In the example, “they” refers to the new spouse of the viewpoint character.

      Something like “the Brothers McMullen” is not used most of the time; I’ve only seen it when it indicates brothers who are in business together, etc. (For example, the guys who wrote Stranger Things are named in the credits as “the Duffer Brothers,” but I’m sure most of the time they’re just “the Duffer brothers,” lowercase.) So you probably wouldn’t write “the Grandparents Smith.”


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