Results 1 to 6 of 6
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain

    • Join Date: Aug 2014
    • Posts: 7
    #1

    Correct comma placement

    I am proof reading a book and keep encountering the same issue, which has me scratching my head. It is exemplified in the following sentences:


    1. ‘The result of his speech was that a large number of men agreed to strike, and, notwithstanding threats and blows and the menace of bayonet points, some two hundred men refused to leave their barrack room that night.’
    2. I ventured a little way from our hollow, taking care to remain hidden by the heath till I found a little channel of clear water and, filling our water bottle, made my way back to my companion.
    3. The men were told that they should receive no more parcels or letters until they resumed work, and that if they persisted in their attitude, they should be sent to work in punishment camps among the marshes of Hannover;


    I'd like to know the rule here. Should I place a comma before or after the conjunction 'and', or perhaps both before and after? (all three methods are used in the examples above!). I would like to know the rule that pertains here. Any links showing this rule would also be appreciated.


    Thanks!

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #2

    Re: Correct comma placement

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


    Hello, Pedantric:

    In my opinion, #1 is punctuated correctly.

    There are two sentences. (For the moment, let's forget the prepositional phrase starting with "notwithstanding.")

    1. "The result of his speech was that a large number of men agreed to strike. Some two hundred men refused to leave their barrack room that night."

    2. To make it smoother, the author has made it into a compound sentence (two or more sentences joined by a conjunction):

    "The result of his speech was that a large number of men agreed to strike, and some two hundred men refused to leave their barrack room that night."

    3. The author wanted to add a parenthetical element, i.e., some extra information "thrown" into the second sentence. For parenthetical elements, commas are often used:

    "The result of his speech was that a large number of men agreed to strike, and, notwithstanding threats and blows and the menace of bayonet points, some two hundred men refused to leave their barrack room that night."

    "Parenthetical" comes from the word "parenthesis." Some writers might choose not to use commas. They might actually use parentheses:

    "The result of his speech was that a large number of men agreed to strike, and (notwithstanding threats and blows and the menace of bayonet points) some two hundred men refused to leave their barrack room that night."



    James
    Last edited by TheParser; 27-Oct-2014 at 23:42. Reason: spacing

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain

    • Join Date: Aug 2014
    • Posts: 7
    #3

    Re: Correct comma placement

    Thanks James,

    That seems a logical approach, although I have just come across the following, which gives different advice:
    When a parenthetical element — an interjection, adverbial modifier, or even an adverbial clause — follows a coordinating conjunction used to connect two independent clauses, we do not put a comma in front of the parenthetical element.

    • The Red Sox were leading the league at the end of May, but of course, they always do well in the spring. [no comma after "but"]
    • The Yankees didn't do so well in the early going, but frankly, everyone expects them to win the season. [no comma after "but"]
    • The Tigers spent much of the season at the bottom of the league, and even though they picked up several promising rookies, they expect to be there again next year. [no comma after "and"]

    (This last piece of advice relies on the authority of William Strunk's Elements of Style. Examples our own.)
    -which came from this website: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm

    I'm not sure if there are hard and fast rules here. If there were it would make things easier, but I've looked a number of punctuation primers and they don't have much to say about this issue.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 28-Oct-2014 at 11:10. Reason: Removed unnecessary quote

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #4

    Re: Correct comma placement

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


    Hello, Pedantric:



    I do not understand your quoted sentence: "The Red Sox were leading the league at the end of May, but of course, they always do well in the spring."

    I checked Strunk, and he reminded us that IF we DO decide to use a parenthetical element, it needs two commas, not only one.

    Thus, in my OPINION, we have two choices:

    "The Red Sox were leading the league at the end of May, but of course they always do well in the spring."
    "The Red Sox were leading the league at the end of May, but, of course, they always do well in the spring." [I wish to indicate a pause, for I am strongly emphasizing "of course."]




    James
    Last edited by TheParser; 28-Oct-2014 at 11:56. Reason: deleted unnecessary quotation

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain

    • Join Date: Aug 2014
    • Posts: 7
    #5

    Re: Correct comma placement

    Hi James,

    Thanks for checking this. I was only going with what was quoted on the linked webpage, which may well be wrong. I suppose it depends somewhat on the sentence and the length of the parenthesis; if the parenthesis were longer, parenthetical commas would probably become more important. I prefer your second option, although many would think this overly fussy, including a copy-editor friend who advised me against this, saying that surrounding a one-word conjunction with commas looks 'ridiculous'!

    Richard

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #6

    Re: Correct comma placement

    There is a tendency these days to cut down on unnecessary commas. I no longer use a comma after a coordinating conjunction when the conjunction is followed by a phrase or clause that would normally be set off by commas. It seems superfluous to me.

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Correct comma placement.
    By mark1987 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 04-Dec-2013, 01:47
  2. [Grammar] Which is correct comma placement
    By scofansnags in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-Jan-2009, 21:28
  3. Comma Placement
    By crussell in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 09-Nov-2006, 22:19
  4. Correct placement of comma
    By crussell in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-Nov-2006, 17:54

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •