Commas, and How Complicated Things Might Really Be

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When properly used, commas can be used to keep discourse clear, to bring statements together, and to suffuse language with detail. In “The Comma From Which My Heart Hangs,”  Benjamin Samuel makes the case for using commas correctly, exploring the difference between the sentences “I love Tom” and “I love, Tom,” among a number of other examples.

Samuel writes about sentences that are seemingly clear at first glance, such as: “You’re just too difficult to love” and “I’ve met someone else.” He goes on to critique these sentences for being vague and unclear, even though they seem direct at first glance. He points to the “glaring absence” of commas in both of these cases, attributing the lack of clarity to “the failure to elaborate” and “the disregard for how complicated things might really be.”


Serena Candelaria is a Rumpus intern, and a self-proclaimed fiction addict. This summer, she worked at 29th Street Publishing and began writing a novella. She is currently a senior at Yale, where she studies Literature. More from this author →