Answers to Questions About Commas #4
Here are several questions about punctuation from DailyWritingTips.com readers, including two about too, and my responses.
1. I was taught to always put a comma before the word too. I realize this is a technical part of punctuation, but I see several instances where no comma precedes too. Is there an absolute rule for this, or are there times when the comma isn’t necessary?
A trend toward open punctuation, a minimalist approach to commas that includes omitting punctuation before too, has prevailed in informal writing for some time. However, I support closed punctuation and advise always retaining the comma to set off too, regardless of the degree of formality of the prose.
2. Should you place a comma before too when it’s at the end of a sentence? “He decided to go, too,” or “He decided to go too”? Does it depend on the context of too?
Some writing handbooks advise that inserting the comma in such sentences is optional; it’s necessary only to signal emphasis. But in that case, it would be better to state, “He, too, decided to go.”
When too is at the end of the sentence, a comma to signal emphasis might be inserted when the word indicates an additional action or thought, rather than a similar one: “He watched her jump, and he jumped too,” but “He decided to hop and skip. He jumped, too.” But these distinctions, I think, are too complicated. My solution is to always insert the comma.
3. In the sentence “The subdimensions that were measured were accessibility and responsiveness and security,” responsiveness and security go together. How should I punctuate it to give clarity to the reader?
Here are several options to clarify the subdimensions; I prefer the third one, which is more direct and concise, is in active voice, and omits intrusive punctuation or numeration:
a) “The subdimensions that were measured were accessibility, and responsiveness and security.”
b) “The subdimensions that were measured were 1) accessibility and 2) responsiveness and security.”
c) “The test measured accessibility, as well as responsiveness and security.”
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