This is a bit embarrassing. I was taught grammar as a child (a rare thing and one I am devoutly grateful for). When I see poor grammar in other people’s writing it irritates me. If you can’t get there, their, they’re right then go and look up basic spelling and contractions! Seriously, nerd rage. But commas…
I tend to use commas as breaths or pauses in a sentence, but reading doesn’t work in the same way as speech. That comma in the last sentence was wholly unnecessary from a grammatical perspective, despite the fact that if I were speaking out loud I would have breathed there. Unfortunately it seems to be a hard habit to kick.
The comma has a very specific purpose and that is to make sense of the words in a particular way. Take the famous example:
Let’s eat Grandpa
Let’s eat, Grandpa
One of those endorses cannibalism and one doesn’t, purely thanks to the comma. It’s not a Swiss Army Knife, intended to do everything, and I should stop using it as such. My first draft came back covered in little red crosses where the raptor freed the comma from my press-ganging ways. He said he used up one entire editing pen on commas.
I’m sorry, comma. I will try not to mentally breathe when writing.