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  1. Newbie
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    Comma usage

    Hi everyone,

    Reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Ring I’ve noticed those two sentences:

    1. Even in ancient days they were, as a rule, shy of ‘the Big Folk’, as they call us, and now they avoid us with dismay and are becoming hard to find.
    2. Their faces were as a rule good-natured rather than beautiful, broad, bright-eyed, red-cheeked, with mouths apt to laughter, and to eating and drinking.

    Does anyone can tell me why in first sentence phrase ‘as a rule’ is separated by commas, while in later it isn’t. Is there any rule behind which I cannot see or it is rather a matter of choice and a stylistic device unimportant for meaning of sentence at large?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Re: Comma usage

    Normally, "as a rule" is set off by commas. I have no idea why there is a difference. A writer should be consistent.

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Re: Comma usage

    I admit that I would hesitate to criticise Tolkien's writing, but I have to say that I don't have a problem with it.

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