Q. An author of an article I am copyediting asked me to restore the commas I had deleted in the following sentence: “Most of my nightmares are a process of working out a deeper objectivity about, and unity with, what God would have me do.” I do not mind the two commas in this sentence, although I prefer it without. However, I know the proofreader will object. Can you refer me to a rule I can cite to get either the author or the proofreader to back down?
Q. I have noticed in e-mails that people who want to be informal begin with “Hi Fred.” I have also seen the salutation as “Hi, Fred.” Since e-mail is an electronic letter, is it OK to simply begin with “Hi Fred,”? The other way seems a bit awkward.
Q. Must a comma always precede the phrase “such as”? If not, what is the rule for when there should be a comma?
Q. I’ve got a run-in list in which one of the items is a quoted question. The author put the comma after the closing quotation mark, which looks odd, but so does no comma at all. Any suggestions? The sentence: She can ask herself, “Why?”, formulate her own response, and see which option it closely matches.
Q. My editor and I disagree about comma placement in this sentence. I added the comma, but he says it’s not necessary. Your opinion, please? “The screen design includes functional elements like text-entry boxes and list boxes, and stylistic elements like graphics and multimedia.” Thanks!
Q. Some editors at my office believe the word so should always have a comma after it when it begins a sentence. (“I am a clumsy person. So, I try not to wear white on days when I will drink coffee.”) I believe so should be treated like and or but; they think it should be treated like thus. Yet they don’t use the comma if the clause is in the second half of a sentence. Is the comma optional, never allowed, or allowed only in certain situations?
Q. Your opinion, please, of the comma in this sentence: “The difference, is affiance.” It is a commercial tagline, so all bets may be off, but one of us has the nagging feeling that there may be a reason for that comma buried in grammar rules of yore. Another of us wondered if the construction is related to “What it is, is football.” Both of us hope you can help sort things out.
Q. Prepositional phrases beginning sentences. No longer followed by a comma?
Q. In the following sentence, it would appear that naming Fred as my brother is a nonrestrictive parenthetical: My brother, Fred, and I teach at the same school. However, these commas could be taken as serial commas (my brother and Fred and I teach at the same school). Thus, I was taught to write such a sentence as follows: My brother Fred and I teach at the same school. Which would you consider correct?
Q. I’ve been having a debate with a vendor regarding commas. What is the proper way to punctuate a compound sentence with an introductory clause that applies to both parts of the sentence? For example, “During percussion, tympany is a hollow sound over an air-filled structure and dullness is a thud-type sound over a solid structure.” Most style guides cover the need for a comma after an introductory phrase (unless it is very short and clear) and the need for a comma between the independent clauses of a compound sentence (unless they are very short and related), but they don’t provide specific guidance for both elements in one sentence. I have interpreted this omission to mean that the comma should generally be used in both places, after the introductory phrase and between the independent clauses, but my vendor is insisting that the comma isn’t needed between the independent clauses because the introductory phrase applies to both of them.