Monday, 18 February 2008

Take the comma quiz

Can you handle a comma?

I have a slight problem with that tricky little punctuation mark, the comma; I'm sometimes uncertain whether I need one or not. I'm not going to discuss them, as Lynne Truss has done it much better than I could in Eats, Shoots & Leaves. But it's high time I directed my loyal readers to a quiz, so here is one to test your comma usage:

It gives you handy advice and comments at the top; they are easy to miss.

(Oh, um, I got 76%. Dear me).


  1. I got 90% and a bit cheesed off. Some of those examples had two correct sentences in them. That whole - you can't have a comma before an 'and' business - is a real pet hate of mine.

    I read a really good explanation of comma useage somewhere; which goes something like this:

    This is the first use of a comma, and it is a simple one.

    Grumble over.

  2. Nik, you are obviously a Master of the Comma. Take an honourary 100%.

    It's an American site, and they probably do things slightly differently.

  3. Blimey! I wouldn't go that far! ;)

    Commas can be tricky - which that site illustrates well. Have you got a copy of New Hart's Rules? If not I think it's well worth a look. You can be comma savvy without being Ms Truss. :)

    (Look at me, using smilies!)


  4. I haven't got New Hart's Rules. My trouble is, I am confident about punctuation - huh, who needs a guide - then while revising, I find myself putting in commas, then taking them out again...

  5. Oh I know what you mean. Without meaning to sound patronising... what I find works best for me is reading my work aloud.

    Reminds me of that poet joke: (s)he spent all morning putting a comma in, and all afternoon taking it out.

    Feels like that at times though, doesn't it!


  6. Well done, Oli.

    I now quite badly need someone to do even worse than I did...and admit it, of course.

  7. I'd like to dedicate my result, 60%, to my parents, the pope and Mother Theresa. I do use the serial comma and the site marks those incorrect.

    Listen to Martha Barnette;id=8702

    or just read what she has to say at

  8. Thank you, Timber, for doing even worse than I did, and going public with it.

    I am sure you wield a fine comma.

    Though I doubt Mother Theresa cares, where she is now.