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Grammar for Ghost Hunters

Grammar  matters! No matter your career, hobbies, or social media, you are only as credible as the grammar you use. However, if you don’t write, you may have forgotten some of the rules.

This is a multi-blog series devoted to demystifying grammar using paranormal content as examples.

Today, we will discuss the ever useful comma.

The Comma: A comma is used to alleviate confusion. It was invented to help readers understand the intent of the writing. It is not where you pause. There are simple rules for usage.


Incorrect: If you cook zombies will congregate.

Correct: If you cook, zombies will congregate.

We usually don’t cook zombies. Further, you should avoid cooking smells when zombies are near.


When you write, you compose sentences combining nouns with verbs. In the above example, the noun is you; the verb is cook. Don’t worry about the zombies.


Rule 1: A sentence is an independent clause. When you have two or more independent clauses, you may join them with a comma. Use the seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet.


Most paranormal investigators have never photographed a full-bodied apparition, yet all remain hopeful.

Independent clause 1: noun = investigators; verb = never.

Independent clause 2: noun = all; verb = remain.


Exception: When the two independent clauses are short—very short. In general, don’t rely on the exceptions.


Rule 2: Place a comma after the opening word group.

Near the cemetery gates, the team discovered an overgrown trail.

Although Ronald “Butch” DeFeo, Jr. claimed he was possessed at the time, he was convicted of killing his family.

Although the movie The Amityville Horror was popular, it was not factually accurate.


Rule 3: Use a comma after all items in a series. This is sometimes called the Oxford Comma.

Paranormal investigators use digital cameras, infrared video cameras, and digital voices recorders to document investigations.

Investigations entail historical research, interviews, photographing the location, and filming.

Ghostbusters (2016) stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones.

There are four types of hauntings: residual haunting, intelligent haunting, poltergeist haunting, and demonic haunting.


Rule 4: Commas separate coordinate adjectives not joined with the word “and.”

The urban legend Bloody Mary has grown into a popular, lucrative movie franchise.

“Breaking the News” is a monthly, informative paranormal news segment on Paranormal Filler.


Rule 5: Use a comma after transitional expressions like however, moreover, and therefore.

Our investigation at Old South Pittsburg Hospital generated a lot of video; therefore, we will take longer to review.

The Internet has made sharing evidence easier; however, it has produced more faked evidence.

Black-eyed children sightings are up; however, their origin is unknown.


Rule 6: Do not use a comma to separate a noun from the verbs.

The Haunted Librarian writes a blog and dishes the paranormal news every month on Paranormal Filler with Wes Forsythe.


Note: This listing is not exhaustive. There are more discreet rules. However, these are the basic comma rules. For more information, please visit the various grammar Web sites found through your favorite search engine.