Sadly, I saw this in an ad, an actual ad, that was paid for and probably a designer was paid and a copywriter too, yet no took a minute to actually proofread the darn thing. Do you see the mistake?
In the heart of a young woman, lies a secret that divides a nation.
Here’s the answer: The comma doesn’t belong because the two parts of that sentence can’t stand alone. How do I know? Because neither makes sense on its own. Here’s proof:
In the heart of a young woman.
Lies a secret that divides a nation.
Do either of those “sentences” work? No!
In contrast, this sentence has a comma because the two parts of the sentence can stand alone:
I went out to the barn to feed the cow, and then I headed to the coop to let the chickens out.
If you separate the sentence at the comma (and remove and), you get these two sentences:
I went out to the barn to feed the cow.
I headed to the coop to let the chickens out.
Those two sentences work, right?
You would also use a comma after an introductory phrase such as:
When I finished my coffee, I headed to the coop to let the chickens out.
In that case, When I finished my coffee can’t stand alone, but it doesn’t need to since it’s an introduction to the rest of the sentence.
So how should our mistake be written? Like this, without the comma:
In the heart of a young woman lies a secret that divides a nation.
Commas are not that hard if writers will stop and think for a second, right?
To make sure you get commas right, download my FREE guide to punctuation. It spells out several rules for commas with examples that make it easy to understand.