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  1. #1
    LiuJing is offline Member
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    In strict sense, comma is required or optional?

    I went to the John's house, only to find he was not home.


    Colloquially, do we need a pause between 'house' and 'only'?
    Thank you.
    Last edited by LiuJing; 06-Jul-2010 at 12:51.

  2. #2
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    Re: In strict sense, comma is required or optional?

    The comma is not strictly necessary, but the sentence is better with it than without it. Did you mean to type, "I went to John's house"?

  3. #3
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Re: In strict sense, comma is required or optional?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiuJing View Post
    I went the John's house, only to find he was not home.


    Colloquially, do we need a pause between 'house' and 'only'? Yes, and I would definitely keep the comma.
    If you write 'I went to John's house only to........', it sounds like you will give the reason for going there.
    I went to John's house only to see Mary.


    Thank you.
    2006

  4. #4
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: In strict sense, comma is required or optional?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiuJing View Post
    I went the John's house, only to find he was not home.


    Colloquially, do we need a pause between 'house' and 'only'?
    Thank you.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, LiuJing.

    (1) I think that it would be helpful to remember that these are

    clauses of result -- not purpose.

    (2) I thnk that a comma is necessary if there is any possibility that the

    reader will think that it is a clause of purpose rather than result.

    (3) Here are some sentences from grammar books that do not use

    the comma:

    Thelma looked up suddenly to find a cat on the chair.

    He stopped smoking only to start again.

    (I would say that in speaking, a person would definitely pause after

    "smoking.")

    He arrived to find the place on fire.

    (4) I agree with the other posters that it would be helpful to use a

    comma if the word "only" is in the sentence. If the word "only" is

    absent, then a comma would not be necessary. In fact, it might be

    "wrong."

    ***** Thank you.
    Last edited by TheParser; 06-Jul-2010 at 12:31.

  5. #5
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    Re: In strict sense, comma is required or optional?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, LiuJing.

    (1) I think that it would be helpful to remember that these are

    clauses of result -- not purpose.

    (2) I thnk that a comma is necessary if there is any possibility that the

    reader will think that it is a clause of purpose rather than result.

    (3) Here are some sentences from grammar books that do not use

    the comma:

    Thelma looked up suddenly to find a cat on the chair.

    He stopped smoking only to start again.

    (I would say that in speaking, a person would definitely pause after

    "smoking.")

    He arrived to find the place on fire.

    (4) I agree with the other posters that it would be helpful to use a

    comma if the word "only" is in the sentence. If the word "only" is

    absent, then a comma would not be necessary. In fact, it might be

    "wrong."

    ***** Thank you.
    I had never before heard the distinction between comma of purpose and comma of result. It does make eminent sense. Thank you. I wonder why the grammar book would say to leave out the comma. I assume it wasn't suggesting that it was optional.

  6. #6
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: In strict sense, comma is required or optional?

    Quote Originally Posted by kfredson View Post
    I had never before heard the distinction between comma of purpose and comma of result. It does make eminent sense. Thank you. I wonder why the grammar book would say to leave out the comma. I assume it wasn't suggesting that it was optional.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Kfredson.

    (1) Thank you for your kind note.

    (2) I did not explain it clearly: The author (Mr. Bruce L. Liles, A Basic

    Grammar of Modern English, 1979) was discussing the difference between

    an infinitive phrase (I mistakenly used the word "clause") of purpose and

    one of result.

    (3) I gave three examples without the comma. Two were from

    Mr. Liles's book and one came from the Oxford Dictionary of English

    Grammar (1994). Actually, if the word "only" does not appear, I

    agree that a comma would not be "correct." With "only," however,

    I feel that a comma is really needed in order to signify to the reader

    that an infinitive of result is coming up.

    ***** Thank you very much *****

  7. #7
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    Re: In strict sense, comma is required or optional?

    Yes, I did not mean to say commas of purpose. And now it turns out that it is an infinitive phrase. It is all coming clear. Thank you! Most useful, indeed.

  8. #8
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Re: In strict sense, comma is required or optional?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiuJing View Post
    I went to the John's house, only to find he was not home.
    2006

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