They are such a little thing, the comma, but boy they do pack a punch, especially when we don’t use them correctly. For anyone who has researched their usage, you know the rules around them are numerous and not something that we can quickly brush up on. One particular area of trouble for me has been the compound sentence and when and where to put those cantankerous commas.

I think the best place to start on this subject is to first explain exactly what a compound sentence is: a compound sentence is a sentence that has at least two independent clauses joined by a comma, semicolon or conjunction.

Here are independent clauses: That house is blue. It’s my favorite color.

Here is a compound sentence made up of the two clauses with the proper punctuation: That house is blue, and it’s my favorite color.

When the creative process takes over I seldom give grammar any attention, focusing instead on getting the words out. Going back and spotting all my mistakes is tricky. For compound sentences, the key is FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet & so. Most compound sentences are joined by one of these coordinating conjunction.

Spot the coordinating conjunctions between two independent clauses (FANBOYS), and you’ll know exactly where to edit in those cantankerous commas left out during the creative rush.