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Thread: commas

  1. #1
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Default commas

    In these sentences are the commas:
    a-Necessary
    b-Neither necessary nor incorrect
    c-Incorrect

    1-I didn't verify what you said, because I trust you.
    2-He isn't in his room, because I looked.


    3-I didn't close the door, so that the cat could go out.
    4-I didn't close the door, for the cat to be able to go out.


    5-I didn't go out, to study for my exam.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    1 b
    2 a
    3 b
    4 a
    5 a

  3. #3
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: commas

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan
    In these sentences are the commas:
    a-Necessary
    b-Neither necessary nor incorrect
    c-Incorrect

    1-I didn't verify what you said, because I trust you.
    2-He isn't in his room, because I looked.


    3-I didn't close the door, so that the cat could go out.
    4-I didn't close the door, for the cat to be able to go out.


    5-I didn't go out, to study for my exam.
    1. b
    2. a
    3. a
    4. I don't like the sentcne at all
    5. This one depends on the intended meaning.

    I didn't go out, to study for my exam. (he stayed in so he could study)
    I didn't go out to study for my exam. (he did not go somewhere to study)

  4. #4
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Thank Mike.

    I don't see what's wrong with 4 though. I have asked a couple of others and people don't seem to like it. I thought this "for someone to do something" could replace "so that someone may do something" provided that the "someone" in question wanted to do it.

    They sacrificed their lives for us to be free.

    It's strange, because you don't say it is downright wrong (I always use this, I like the "wrong" following hard upon the "right") but you say you don't like it. A lot of people have the same reaction, it seems. TDOL doesn't seem to mind though.

    I seem to use "seem" a lot!

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan
    Thank Mike.

    I don't see what's wrong with 4 though. I have asked a couple of others and people don't seem to like it. I thought this "for someone to do something" could replace "so that someone may do something" provided that the "someone" in question wanted to do it.

    They sacrificed their lives for us to be free.

    It's strange, because you don't say it is downright wrong (I always use this, I like the "wrong" following hard upon the "right") but you say you don't like it. A lot of people have the same reaction, it seems. TDOL doesn't seem to mind though.

    I seem to use "seem" a lot!
    Sentence four, without the comma, reads as if you closed the door but not to allow the cat out. That doesn't make sense. The comma really doesn't help it that much. It is the neagtive that is the problem.

    A similar sentence would be:

    I didn't work double shifts for two years for you to buy a new set of golf clubs.

    That sentence works. The person did work hard, but not for that reason.

    I left the door open for the cat to be able to go out. That is still a bit clumsy.

    I left the door open for the cat to go out. That is better.

    By the way, I disagreed with TDOL's answer on #3 for the same reason.

    If you say "I didn't close the door so the cat can go out" without the comma, I read it it as saying you did close the door, but not for that reason. But you wouldn't close the door to let the cat out. Do you see?

  6. #6
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    I see what you mean, at least as far as the general idea is concerned. That is why I asked the question in the first place. At first, I thought the commas were necessary (in order to distinguish the two possibilites), but I thought 4 would work with the comma. But when I said the sentences, I didn't hear the comma, although the two versions sounded distinctly different (the "I did, but not to..." version and the "in order to..., I didn"t" version). I was sure that the two versions are "sung" differently, but wasn't sure that the comma reflected that. As for 4, I still don't see why it shouldn't work with a comma. I will try to avoid it though and go with "so that".
    Thanks.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan
    I see what you mean, at least as far as the general idea is concerned. That is why I asked the question in the first place. At first, I thought the commas were necessary (in order to distinguish the two possibilites), but I thought 4 would work with the comma. But when I said the sentences, I didn't hear the comma, although the two versions sounded distinctly different (the "I did, but not to..." version and the "in order to..., I didn"t" version). I was sure that the two versions are "sung" differently, but wasn't sure that the comma reflected that. As for 4, I still don't see why it shouldn't work with a comma. I will try to avoid it though and go with "so that".
    Thanks.
    I'm not sure why the negative changes it with that structure, but it seems to -- to me. :wink:

  8. #8
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    This is when English becomes difficult. You follow the rules and then you get to an unchartered area where there are no rules any more and you have to rely on linguistic "knack". A native speaker has one and a non-native speaker has to develop one or (in my case) tries hard to develop one.
    This thread is like a detective movie in which they don't find out who committed the crime! Damn!!
    Take care.

  9. #9
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    'for the cat to be able to go out' is related to 'I didn't close the door'. There shouldn't be a comma, :D

    4-I didn't close the door for the cat to be able to go out.

    Though, even without the comma 4- is awkward. It has to do with negation. Consider this,

    Pat: Why did you close the door? The cat wants out and it can't get out.
    Sam: I closed the door because I don't want the dog to come in. I didn't close the door for the cat not to be able to get out. :D

  10. #10
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Thanks Cas,

    But what does:

    4-I didn't close the door for the cat to be able to go out.

    mean?

    a-I did close the door, but for something else (to keep the dog out)
    b-In order for the cat to be able to go out, I didn't close the door.

    If I understand your reply correctly, you are saying that 4 can mean a. There, we have no problem. The question is whether 4 can mean b. And if we want it to mean b, should we use a comma?

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