Do you know Cherie Tucker? She’s a grammarian whose claim to fame (one of them, at least) is getting Seattle’s Nordstrom stores to correct all of their signs from “Childrens shoes” to “Childrens’ shoes.”
The Seattle Chapter has hosted Cherie as a speaker a few times, and she’s also presented for SDA National (we love the grammar/writing knowledge she shares!).
One of the things that Cherie helped me remember was the use of commas in independent clauses. An independent clause is one that can stand on its own. Like this: This sentence is an independent clause, and you should insert a comma after clause. That’s a two-part sentence that contains the conjunction “and.” The second part of the sentence (you should insert a comma after clause) is a full sentence on its own. If both parts of the clause — joined by a conjunction — can stand on its own . . . it’s an independent clause.
What a lot of people do though, is not insert a comma before the conjunction in their independent clauses. Did you know that you should add a comma before each conjunction in that case?* (Note: It depends on the context; you might consider a semicolon instead.)
Here’s where Cherie came in and helped me remember all of the conjunctions, and thus the use of commas in my independent clauses. She calls the conjunctions “FANBOYS.”
If I have a FANBOY in a sentence, I know to stop and test whether I have any independent clauses. If I do, I know to insert a comma (or a semicolon) before the FANBOY. Will you?
*Tons of sites that back this up. For example:
Judy Beebe, FSDA is our resident Word Nerd.
She currently serves as the SDA Seattle Chapter President