Thursday, September 27, 2007

Inappropriate Comma Use...Perhaps?

My mom recently brought home a small magazine entitled "Live It Up!" because the main cover featured a story on my boy J. Rivs. While reading the story I was somewhat impressed with their ability to keep to the facts. However, I did run into one sentence that confused me just a tad:

"He faced a lot of criticism, but instead of dwelling in the negative, Jason used it to his advantage."

The reason for my confusion was mainly due to the fact that I was unsure of the author's comma use. Is this an error? My high school AP English teacher told me that the easiest way to figure out if there should be a comma is to take out the portion of the sentence bracketed by the commas and read it again to see if it could stand alone:

"He faced a lot of criticism, Jason used it to his advantage."

Hah? That's not right. Perhaps I was ill-advised or perhaps, like we've recently learned, this is just a stylistic issue. I have to say that I would definitely have left the comma out.

Thoughts anyone?

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