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    #1

    comma or no comma

    Hello,

    Here is my sentence:

    The Caribbean region has evolved from a history of slavery, and today its development, as measured by GDP per capita and the Human Development Index, varies significantly from territory to territory.

    Isn't a comma required after today? Or are such commas subjective?

    Thanks again!

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    #2

    Re: comma or no comma

    I believe many commas are subjective.

    Could you try testing it out with this short sentence/extract: Today its development varies.
    Does it need a comma now? I think that may decide it.
    (or to avoid the question; try , and its development today, ​)

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    #3

    Re: comma or no comma

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

    Hello, LaMelange:


    I think that commas before and after "today" would be intolerable to today's readers.

    Look at how ugly all those commas look:


    "The Caribbean region has evolved from a history of slavery, and, today, its development, as measured by GDP per capita and the Human Development Index, varies significantly from territory to territory."

    On the other hand, if you were giving a speech, then I think that it would be fine to surround "today" with pauses if you wanted to indicate the word "today" as a parenthetical word that you have decided to throw in for emphasis. You would be the only person to see the commas in the copy of your speech. And listeners would hear only the pauses. Personally, I would like the sound of setting off "today" with pauses.

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    #4

    Re: comma or no comma

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Look at how ugly all those commas look:

    "The Caribbean region has evolved from a history of slavery, and, today, its development, as measured by GDP per capita and the Human Development Index, varies significantly from territory to territory."
    I'd drop the comma after 'slavery'.


    On the other hand, if you were giving a speech, then I think that it would be fine to surround "today" with pauses if you wanted to indicate the word "today" as a parenthetical word that you have decided to throw in for emphasis. You would be the only person to see the commas in the copy of your speech. And listeners would hear only the pauses. Personally, I would like the sound of setting off "today" with pauses.
    If there is a good case for pauses in speech, there seems to be a good case for commas in writing. Still, as Peedeebee suggested, it's subjective.

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    #5

    Re: comma or no comma

    Reading like this, I think we can do away with the comma! The last one is better, though! Thank you, Peedeebee!

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    #6

    Re: comma or no comma

    I'm glad to find everyone voting for fewer commas rather than more! I totally agree. My subjective instinct is to use as few as possible. Parenthesis phrases are the times when you really need them.
    My experience is teaching children for many years and they like rules. If they think a pause always needs a comma they will always give it a comma and end up with far too many.
    Connecting with Parser's and Piscean's suggestions, a good way to check is to read your work aloud and judge whether the pauses need written commas.

    (They- children- also fall into the trap of comma splicing, but that's another story. )

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    #7

    Re: comma or no comma

    Quote Originally Posted by Peedeebee View Post
    My experience is teaching children for many years and they like rules. If they think a pause always needs a comma they will always give it a comma and end up with far too many.
    I would hate to have to try to teach comma usage in English to children nowadays. When I was learning about commas some sixty years ago, the rules were fairly fixed. There may not have been sound reasons for some of them(,) but, if you persevered, you learnt the rules in the end. It's not so straightforward today.

    The one that used to get me in my youth was a defining relative clause (especially a a longer one) This is often followed by a slight pause in speech but must not be followed by a comma in writing:

    The man who made such a fuss about the service here last week is sitting at the next table.

    For a long time a comma minimalist, I have taken to using them more in recent years.I write a lot(,) and I find, when re-reading what I have just written, that the addition of a comma here and there makes what I have written easier to read.

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