Thursday, January 8, 2015

Writing 101: Of Course, Comma

Commas are so confusing, I and just about every author who blogs about writing has tried to sort them out. I've written multiple posts about how to use commas, and when, and why not. But sometimes, you have to forget about all those rules. Some phrases are so special, they come with their own personal comma rules. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it... 


Of Course You Need a Comma There

I get hung up on little punctuation rules all the time. Of course, there's a lot of them to remember. But I found myself asking, several times, whether or not I was required to use a comma every time I use the phrase of course. It's confusing, because the phrase can be used in a multitude of ways. 



Of course is a phrase of course of course, and no one can ignore the rules of a phrase of course, that is of course unless the phrase is the one we call of course. If you sing that to the "Mr. Ed" theme in your head, you'll get it. The point is, of course comes with a special set of comma circumstances. You need to know what they are.

  • Interrupting

I saw him on Monday, of course, but I don't know what he's been doing since.

In some sentences, of course is used as an interrupting phrase. It breaks up thoughts and slows down the pace. When the phrase is used this way, it's got to have commas.

  • Transitional

Of course, it is illegal to do that sort of thing in the middle of the street.

Sometimes, the phrase is used as a transitioning phrase. It carries the reader from one thought into the next. Of course is a smooth phrase when you use it this way, but it's only correct when you give it a comma. Transitional phrases must always have a comma.


  • Final Clause 

We never got to eat the cake, of course.

Of course may appear at the end of a sentence as a last thought, a last word. When of course is tacked onto the end of a sentence like this, it always needs to follow a comma.

Of course I saw that great blog post!

In a lot of cases, a comma must accompany of course. When you're using the phrase differently than the examples above, however, no comma is required.

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