I see it both ways with a comma before a sentence-ending 'too' and a comma on each side of 'too' when it's the second word in a sentence. Are these commas really needed? Would you personally use them? I think we could leave these sentences as is without the commas. Do you concur?

  1. He too makes a few unforced errors, and we're at deuce. (Comma needed before and after 'too'?)

  2. She too admired his looks and his courtliness. (Comma needed before and after 'too'?)

  3. She admired his looks and his courtliness too. (Comma before 'too'?)

  4. He wanted to go too but decided not to. (Comma before and after 'too'?)

  5. He wanted to go too, but he decided not to.(Comma before and after 'too'?)

  6. He too puts commas around 'too'. (Comma before and after the first 'too'?)

Headline: Obama Says He Too Is a Poverty Fighter In D.C., He Offers Contrast With Edwards (Comma before and after 'too'?)

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None of these sentences need the suggested commas, and in some of them it would even confuse the meaning of the sentence. The most times you only need a comma are to:

  1. Separate clauses (not all of the time)
  2. Separate infinitive phrases at the beginning of a sentence from the rest of the sentence
  3. Separate items of a list

Some of your sentences have one of a couple of exceptions to this rule of thumb, and one or both of you suggested commas are still grammatically correct. That being said, don't get comma-happy. When in doubt, leave the comma out. Take a look at this page and its many links for all the info you need on comma usage: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm

  • It's a good article. It doesn't touch upon what some have called the 'non-grammatical' usage (yes, some are going to say that 'punctuation isn't grammar', but it does usually show what constructions are being used). eg One Woman Shop "Commas: Use commas to create a pause if your breath units are getting too long." – Edwin Ashworth Mar 2 '14 at 15:56
  • @EdwinAshworth A fair point, but from a purist perspective the reader puts in the pauses, not the writer. I think of the writer's job as being to create a readable, sensible work, and the reader's job as being to make it sound good. – KnightOfNi Mar 2 '14 at 16:01
  • So you prefer picture books? – Edwin Ashworth Mar 2 '14 at 16:10
  • @EdwinAshworth Naturally. My favorite is the picture book version of Of Mice and Men. The characterization of Lennie is simply exquisite, to the imaginative and tasteful reader. ;) – KnightOfNi Mar 2 '14 at 16:16
  • 2
    For those preferring reading books, here is a source advocating a more reader-friendly approach: Using Commas to Prevent Misunderstanding Sometimes you must use a comma to make the reader pause in the appropriate place in the sentence in order to prevent misreading. Becoming a good writer means developing an awareness of how your sentences will sound to the reader. Reading your work aloud, to yourself or to a friend, is a good way to identify the places in the sentence where pauses--or commas--are needed. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 2 '14 at 16:22

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