I like cooking my family and my pets

As the unpunctuated list in my headline shows, commas matter. But people are often vague about the rules for using them.

One persistent myth is that you should add a comma wherever you would pause for a breath when speaking. The trouble with this theory is that it depends on the reader knowing when pausing for a breath will benefit the meaning.

Pauses and punctuation (not just commas) are related. Both contribute to the meaning of whatever is being heard or read. But you can’t depend on one to tell you how to do the other.

Save your family and pets. Learn the comma rules, and make your meaning clear.

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