Differences between comma usage (especially after several hours of staring at the computer screen) sometimes result in an odd combo of rules. So I’ll share some notes with you that may come in handy for those longer works that have you tapping away late into the night.
Mind you, this isn’t an exhaustive list, just one with a relatively common oops factor.
Rules that are the same in both languages:
- If-then (an when-then) statements get a comma: If I were a rich man, all day long I’d biddy biddy bum…
- Interruptions are set off with commas: Where, pray tell, did the whole comma thing start?
- Separating the subject and verb with a comma is a major sin, no matter how long the subject: Beautiful breezy beech houses with large windows and gorgeous views sprinkle the coastline.
- Ellipsed verbs (the ones we swallowed) trigger a comma: The brown purses are leather; the black ones, vinyl.
Rules that are different:
- A serial comma is never an option in Spanish: manzanas, peras y guayabas. Seriously, resist the urge–it’s always wrong.
- Addresses often have commas separating the house number and the street number, although there’s variation from one country to the next, so please (pretty please!) tell us where you are and what the use is: Boulevard Precioso, 35.
- Dates don’t separate the year in Spanish, only days: Firmado el martes, 4 de noviembre de 2008.
- Bibliographies with books that have a volume number: Libro, 4. In English, MLS/APA cite this way: Book. Vol. 4.
- In Spanish there is NO comma after but before a question or exclamation: Pero ¿por qué no? Pero ¡se ve raro! (Sorry, the gods of Spanish prescriptivism say no.)
I know you guys have questions and observations. Share that we may all puzzle together
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