Tuesday, October 25, 2011


What are some of the first things they teach you when you are starting school for the first time? Well let’s see… the alphabet, (that’s a big one!), how to spell your first AND last name, (that was extremely hard for me, considering it is 9 letters long; I even had to come up with a song for me to sing to remember how to spell it!) and how to count to ten (little did we know, we would have to count A LOT higher than that in the future). Looking back, that all seems pretty easy. Yes, we do have our mix-ups here and there, but we get the gist and can fix our mistakes easily because our teachers did such a great job teaching us! However, one area I really wish we would have focused on more would have to be punctuation. We learned it, but do we REALLY understand it?

Picture it: Seven people sitting in a circle. We are all starring at each other with blank expressions on our faces. We are all embarrassed to be here. We don’t want anyone else to know that we have to be here or that we have this problem. Then, one by one we stand up. “Hi. My name is Kylie, and I am a Comma-Holic.”

We were taught punctuation from day one. We were basically just taught the basics like, exclamation points (!), question marks (?), and of course, the period (.). Later, we were taught more complicated forms such as colons and semi colons, and the killer: the comma. To this day, I do not understand when and when NOT to use a comma. Sometimes I think “Oh yeah, there definitely needs to be a comma here.” But then, when my mom or a peer is checking my paper, they will say to me, “Kylie! Why are you using a comma here?!” I am starting to think I have a serious problem. I don’t know where to put them or when the right time to use them is, therefore I over-use them.

I use to think you should use a comma when there is a break in something you are saying. But now, I realize that that isn’t always the case. I have been trying to talk to my APLANG teacher about re-teaching the usage of commas, but I feel stupid asking this question, since it was something we were supposed to have learned ten years ago!

Recently in my APLANG class we have been doing a writer’s workshop. (I would like to make note that when I originally typed this, I had a comma after “class,” why?! I don’t know! I am telling you, I have a problem!) The writer’s workshop is where we select a topic and write a paper over it. Then, we go through five drafts and have our peers revise and edit them. I have gotten a lot of feedback on mine such as, “Great job! Watch the use of your commas.” Then, when I am correcting others’ papers, I add commas where I THINK they should go, but in reality, they shouldn’t be there. This makes me feel like I am not doing my job as a good editor, because I don’t know where they really should go. I feel like I am failing them by giving my peers the wrong answer.

Since I am struggling with this so much, my APLANG teacher has been giving me tips on when to use commas. This is semi-helping, but I have asked her to re-teach the proper usage of commas. Through this writer’s workshop, I am realizing that I am not the only one who has this “comma-addiction.” It is actually pretty common (oops – I almost typed comma instead of common). Knowing this gives me strength and will power to help FIGHT my obsession so I can overcome it.

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