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  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Question Commans with subordinating conjunctions

    Hi there. In Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers, Fourth Canadian Edition, I read something that amazed me like a swimming cat. Namely, the authors wrote that I should not use a comma when a subordinate clause follows the independent clause. Are not commas used with many such sentences with subordinating conjunctions such as because, as, since, (al)though or even though, so (that), provided that, whereas, etc.? I just can't believe this is a rule!
    All the best,
    Nyggus
    Last edited by nyggus; 10-Dec-2006 at 16:16. Reason: Changed 'coordinating to subordinating'

  2. #2
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Commans with subordinating conjunctions

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    Hi there. In Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers, Fourth Canadian Edition, I read something that amazed me like a swimming cat. Namely, the authors wrote that I should not use a comma when a subordinate clause follows the independent clause. Are not commas used with many such sentences with coordinating conjunctions such as because, as, since, (al)though or even though, so (that), provided that, whereas, etc.? I just can't believe this is a rule!
    All the best,
    Nyggus
    You have a mixture of termonology in your question. By definition, a coordinating conjunction joins two independent clauses (of equal importance). Subordinating conjunctions, join subordinate (dependent) clauses to a main clause. There are also different rules for conjunctive adverbs. Normally, we do not use a comma before a real subordinating conjunction, but we use one after an initial subordinate clause.

    See here:

    Subordinate Conjunctions

  3. #3
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Commans with subordinating conjunctions

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    You have a mixture of termonology in your question. By definition, a coordinating conjunction joins two independent clauses (of equal importance). Subordinating conjunctions, join subordinate (dependent) clauses to a main clause. There are also different rules for conjunctive adverbs. Normally, we do not use a comma before a real subordinating conjunction, but we use one after an initial subordinate clause.

    See here:

    Subordinate Conjunctions
    Indeed, but, actually, I meant subordinating conjunctions in the whole post (I edited the post). What do you mean by "a real subordinating conjunction"? Can you give any examples?

    Nyggus

  4. #4
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Commans with subordinating conjunctions

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    Indeed, but, actually, I meant subordinating conjunctions in the whole post (I edited the post). What do you mean by "a real subordinating conjunction"? Can you give any examples?

    Nyggus
    I meant those that were not coordinating conjunctions or conjunctive adverbs.

    The site I gave you listed many, if not all.

  5. #5
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Commas with subordinating conjunctions

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I meant those that were not coordinating conjunctions or conjunctive adverbs.

    The site I gave you listed many, if not all.
    Frankly, I am still not convinced. If subordinate conjunctions so that, provided that, or because are used before a dependent clause that follows an independent clause, should they not be followed by a comma as a rule?

    Best,
    Nyggus

  6. #6
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Commas with subordinating conjunctions

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    Frankly, I am still not convinced. If subordinate conjunctions so that, provided that, or because are used before a dependent clause that follows an independent clause, should they not be followed by a comma as a rule?

    Best,
    Nyggus
    Well, some of it depends the complexity of the sentence. There are few punctuation rules that are immutable.

    That said, one would hardly ever use a comma before the conjunctions on that list.

    He quit his job because the boss wouldn't listen to his opinions.
    He said he would return if the boss changed his ways.
    The boss said he would talk to personal so that the policy would be stated more clearly.

    "Provided" is the conjunction, not "provided that". I would be more likely to use a comma before this one than the others you listed, but that would depend on the length of the clause.

    He will come provided that you come also.

    The lawyers said that the contracts would be signed, provided that the two parties have adequate time to work out their differences.
    Last edited by MikeNewYork; 11-Dec-2006 at 04:57.

  7. #7
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Commans with subordinating conjunctions

    OK, get your point. I suppose that if the independent part (which may consist of more than one independent clauses) of a sentence is complex, it is posible that a comma may need to be used before a subordinating conjuction. So often you can find a comma before because and so that, and these two always (I am right, ain't I?) introduce dependent clauses.

    As for the provided that, the reference book I cited in the first post of this thread give it is a subordinating conjuction, so it was not my idea--another thing to discuss!

    Thanks, MNY, for your help.
    Nyggus

  8. #8
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Commans with subordinating conjunctions

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    OK, get your point. I suppose that if the independent part (which may consist of more than one independent clauses) of a sentence is complex, it is posible that a comma may need to be used before a subordinating conjuction. So often you can find a comma before because and so that, and these two always (I am right, ain't I?) introduce dependent clauses.

    As for the provided that, the reference book I cited in the first post of this thread give it is a subordinating conjuction, so it was not my idea--another thing to discuss!

    Thanks, MNY, for your help.
    Nyggus
    You're welcome. I mentioned that about "provided" because the "that" can usually be omitted.

  9. #9
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Commans with subordinating conjunctions

    I have looked through some references for this problem. Michael Swan in his "Practical English Usage" gives that in short sentences one should not use a comma; however, if a sentence is long or complex, a comma should be used. But, interestingly, I found there a sentence, "I liked him, so I tried to help." Would you tell this is a long or a complex sentence? I don't think so. Why, then, did he use a comma there?

    Best,
    Nyggus

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Commans with subordinating conjunctions

    It's often a matter of personal choice with punctuation and trying to make hard and fast rules can break down in many cases. It's not a long sentence and you would be able to find people who wouldn't use a camma there, but there are two clear clauses.

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