Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blogging from A to Z - today's words are "but" and Bahzra

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?


  1. I agree that the comma is necessary. There's a moment of transition in a sentence joined by but that needs a pause. Like your horses approaching a fence gather themselves before launching up and over.

    Happy A-Zing!
    Laurel's Leaves

  2. Replies
    1. I used to conserve commas (like we'd run out of them?) but writing without enough stands out painfully now that I'm learning the rules!

  3. Man, I am already learning from your tips. I have a lot to learn about this topic. I often let my fears of using proper punctuation and grammar stop me from writing more.
    Shawn from Laughing at Life 2

    1. I don't think grammar should even matter when writing. Just the words. That's what I tell myself and I know many people successfully write that way. I can't. I notice. I fix. I re-read. But it's when I'm editing that the REAL good ideas come out. I can only write about three paragraphs before I feel the need to back up cuz I just know there's a stupid comma in the wrong place. Just find what works for you! And find a critique group with a grammar Nazi!

  4. I'm loving the horses and thinking that I may learn a thing or two from you over the course of this challenge. Of course, now I'm worried about the grammar in my comment... :) I'll be back for more! Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

    1. Haha, I rarely proofread my own blog comments. They're supposed to be off the cuff!

  5. WOW Marlene, I have to go back and check on all you other gramma tutorials. this is just what i needed because i recently installed Grammar help me correct things because my posts tend to be riddled with errors. And i noticed there is a lot of recommendations for the use of the comma before and...i have to read more closely before clicking yes to the.

    Your blog is most certainly on my list.

    I just love your horses, i am suffering from horse envy over here. yours is the second post i've seen with them in two days.

    xo Wendy @ Fabulosity Reads Book Promotions

  6. I love grammar but have slipped into some very bad habits so will be back to "refresh"! I love the A to Z Challenge for the opportunity to find wonderful blogs such as yours!