Thank you for joining the April blogfest - Blogging from A to Z. My theme is writing tips/grammar along with posting pictures of horses I have owned or known.
Today's grammar tip should be simple, but it's not.
The rule is to use a comma between complete, independent phrases joined by: but, and, or etc.
The bay horse lived at a rescue for three years, but he learned to love people and being ridden.
"The bay horse lived at a rescue..." is a complete sentence. So is "he learned to love people...". So it is correct to put the comma before the "but."
I see many writers ignore this comma because there's rarely any ambiguity in the meaning - but I do notice when it's missing. As much as I love rules and think they should be applied consistently, there are times when pacing and tension are blown by adding that tiny pause.
The horse flung his heels above his head and his rider flew into the fence.
It would technically be correct to use a comma after "head," but these actions are so connected, happening so fast, that tension would be lost if it were used.
Speaking of the bucking horse, here he is. No, he never threw me into a fence, but cactus and a tree - yes, he did. And was damn proud of it, I think! I found Bahzra at a horse rescue when he was 7 years old and not even halter trained. I did most of his training, and he's become a fabulous endurance horse.
We also enjoy doing a little jumping now and then. He recently acquired a new owner, but I still get to see him and his endurance career continues.
So what is your opinion on the comma when and or but separates independent clauses? Have you gotten editor feedback on that one?