Missing “earring” comma creates alcohol people?

There is an excellent article in this morning's The Birmingham News about the dangers of mixing alcohol and caffeine, a practice that can cause a "wide-awake drunk" and lead to dangerous behavior. The article contains a sentence that is confusing because of a missing comma:

Normally, when drinking alcohol people begin feeling sleepy and tired, and that's when they know they've had too much to drink.

Whoops! What was that again? The first two times I tried to read this sentence, I kept hearing "alcohol people" in my head. Then I spotted the "earring" comma problem. The phrase that should be set off by two commas is WHEN DRINKING ALCOHOL, but the second comma is missing. The sentence should be punctuated this way:

 Normally, when drinking alcohol, people begin feeling sleepy and tired, and that's when they know they've had too much to drink. 

If you would like more information about the dangers of mixing caffeine and alcohol, go to www.cdc.gov and type "caffeine and alcohol" in the Search box at the top of the page. It will bring up several references.

 

 


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