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Thread: Commas

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    #1

    Commas

    It is the fruit trucks that are most rigorously checked. They typically carry crates of watermelons.
    Piled on top of each other, they are, the authorities say, a classic place for immigrants to hide.
    One of the vehicles pulls up at Patras port. The customs officers spring into action, cutting holes in the cardboard boxes to check the fruit, clambering inside to prod and search and shining torches underneath. After a lengthy process, the truck is cleared to board the ferry.
    Patras is Greece's biggest port - known as the gateway to the west. Ships here leave to Italy and the vehicles on board often travel further still. It is a smugglers' hub into Europe - one of the continent's most vulnerable borders.
    Suddenly there is a commotion in one corner. The guards have opened a vehicle containing gas canisters. And five men are found crammed inside. They sit, heads bowed. One says he is from Afghanistan.
    .................................................. ................
    Piled on top of each other, they are, the authorities say, a classic place for immigrants to hide.
    Are the commas necessary in the above sentence?

    I think the following is the correct one.
    Piled on top of each other they are, the authorities say, a classic place for immigrants to hide.



    They sit, heads bowed.
    The comma is completely wrong in the above.
    It should be the following:
    They sit heads bowed.


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    #2

    Re: Commas

    The commas in the original are fine, in my opinion.

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    #3

    Re: Commas

    I don't understand it.

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    #4

    Re: Commas

    Piled on top of each other(, end of subordinate clause, beginning of main clause) they are (, beginning of parenthetical note) the authorities say(, end of parenthetical note, return to main clause) a classic place for immigrants to hide.

    They sit(, end of main clause, beginning of subordinate clause) heads bowed.

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    #5

    Re: Commas

    Thank you
    Piled on top of each other, they are, the authorities say, a classic place for immigrants to hide.
    I don't know very much about main clauses and subordinate clauses.
    I think a subordinate clause can't stand alone.
    The words or rather the clause 'the authorities say' is not essential to the sentence.

    So the following is fine.
    Piled on top of each other, they are a classic place for immigrants to hide.
    I think I am correct.

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    #6

    Re: Commas

    Quote Originally Posted by Tina3 View Post
    Piled on top of each other, they are a classic place for immigrants to hide.
    I think I am correct.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    I agree that you are correct.

    The words "the authorities say" are an extra remark that the author "threw" into the sentence. You are 100% correct:

    it is not essential. That is why, as 5jj said, it is called a parenthetical expression. The writer of that sentence wanted

    to make it clear that it was not he/she who was making that claim about hiding immigrants. It was the authorities. So

    if the information in the sentence angers a reader, the writer can reply: Don't get angry with me. Direct your anger at

    the authorities.

    Maybe if we punctuate it in another way, this idea would come out more clearly for you:

    Piled on top of each other, they are (the authorities say) a classic place for immigrants to hide.
    Piled on top of each other, they are -- the authorities say -- a classic place for immigrants to hide.

    *****

    "They sit, heads bowed" seems to interest you. Would rearranging the words help make it clearer for you?

    Heads bowed, they sit. = With their heads bowed, they sit.

    They sit, [with their] heads bowed.

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    #7

    Re: Commas

    Thanks for the replies.
    They sit,heads bowed.
    If you remove the comma, does it change the meaning?
    Such a short sentence doesn't need a comma; that is how I feel.

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    #8

    Re: Commas

    [QUOTE=Tina
    Such a short sentence doesn't need a comma; that is how I feel.[/QUOTE]


    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    I have read that famous authors can write any way that they wish. That is, they already know the

    "rules." So they are free to break the rules in order to write with a special style of their own.

    But I think that ordinary people usually follow the rules. I am 99.99% sure that 99.99% of English teachers would

    give you a lower mark if you left out the comma.

    You need the comma for two reasons:

    a. It tells the reader to pause.

    b. Native readers are used to seeing a comma in such a sentence.

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    #9

    Re: Commas

    Quote Originally Posted by Tina3 View Post
    Such a short sentence doesn't need a comma; that is how I feel.
    You raised the question and I, a teacher and native speaker, gave my opinion. If you prefer to follow your own feelings, fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    But I think that ordinary people usually follow the rules. I am 99.99% sure that 99.99% of English teachers would give you a lower mark if you left out the comma.
    I would not give a lower mark, but I would certainly point out that a comma is needed there.

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    #10

    Re: Commas

    Thanks
    You have written the following:
    It tells the reader to pause.

    I have heard this before.
    So you can place everywhere to pause.

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