Commas to clarify meaning: Namaqua chameleon
The Grammar Bit!
The correct placement of a comma within a sentence is very important. Incorrect placement can lead to confusion (ambiguity) for the reader and means they may not understand the text as intended by the author.
Read sentence 1A. Note where the comma is placed and discuss the meaning behind the sentence. Sentence 1B is worded exactly the same but the comma has been moved. How has this changed the meaning of the sentence?
Notice the placement of the comma in the second pair of sentences. How does this different placement change the meaning of each sentence?
Now discuss the third pair of sentences. Notice how the commas have been removed from the second sentence of this pair. How does this alter the meaning?
1A) As the setting sun shone, blood-red chameleons advanced across the desert.
1B) As the setting sun shone blood-red, chameleons advanced across the desert.
2A) When she saw the male at the top of the towering sand dune, the female knew that her torturous journey had not been in vain.
2B) When she saw the male, at the top of the towering sand dune the female knew that her torturous journey had not been in vain.
3A) The chamelon, said the narrator, was suited to the hostile environment due to his special adaptations.
3B) The chameleon said the narrator was suited to the hostile environment due to his special adaptations.
Did you know?
Contrary to popular belief, chameleons rarely change their skin colour to blend in with their environment. More often, this remarkable ability is used as a way of either controlling their body temperature or communicating their feelings.