I have recently tried to learn how to place commas properly when writing in English, but I experienced a great difficulty in finding some good material on the subject.
My goal is to be good (or at least okay) at placing commas in English text in general, but it is mainly my academic writing I am concentrating on to begin with. More specifically, I am a mathematician, and it is in connection with my mathematical writing that I most of all would like to learn to place commas.
So far, the literature have had the following shortcomings:
- They only cover 'compound sentences' and 'complex sentences' but not 'compound-complex sentences' of which there are tons in mathematics.
- Instead of teaching you about long-and-complicated sentences, they tell you to write/rewrite in short-and-simple sentences. This is often not possible in mathematical writing.
- They are mainly books on grammar and punctuation, and often only have a small amount of information about placing commas. I realize that you cannot write about placing commas without discussing grammar, but it would be nice if the commas where treated more thorough.
- Some focus a lot on direct speech which I do not use at all in my mathematical writing.
- Some literature seems to be a quite subjective opinion to comma placing, which does not necessarily agree with other places.
- Many places they give examples instead of rules. This said, examples are good, and there should be a lot of them, but they should accompany rules/guidelines.
- They do not tell you when rules are definite rules (as much as they can be) and when they are not, that is, when there is a lot of exceptions.
What I am looking for are some good textbooks (or other means) from which I can learn about placing commas. Preferably avoiding the shortcomings I mentioned above. Especially the last point above would be nice to avoid. I looked at the The blue book of grammar, and in this book the author lists 21 rules about placing commas, but do not mention whether there are exceptions or if some of them are just guidelines. My impression is that some of them are not definite rules (though I am clearly not an expert).
So far, I have tried books such as Oxfords guide to English grammar, A student's introduction to English grammar and a few others.