Old Rules: A Lesson About Commas and Your Career Success

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Do you still cling to some of the “old rules” that supported your early successes?

A college instructor opened her English 101 class with the question: “Does a comma ‘always’ follow words such as — next, then, and finally — at the beginning of a sentence?

Most of the students indicated their agreement, with several commenting about learning this practice in their high school English classes.

The instructor then said, “There is no rule that a comma ‘always’ follows a particular word or phrase. The use of a comma depends on syntax (the structure of a sentence), pace, tone, and even personal preference.”

She went on to say, “Some of the grammar rules you learned in high school were helpful at that stage of your education. Now, we want to adjust those same rules to support better writing for your college-level assignments.”


Let’s take a moment to look beyond grammar and think about your career today. Do you still cling to some “old rules” that supported your early successes?

Ask yourself honestly: Do these rules still help you achieve successful outcomes, or are they starting to limit your career opportunities?

If the latter is true, it’s probably time to consider some adjustments. Regardless of your career stage, one thing is sure; you’re not in high school anymore.

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About the Author: David Cox

David Cox is a Co-owner of TPB Business Copyediting. He writes to encourage us to apply our multidisciplinary training and experiences to develop our current career role further.