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    #1

    comma before as and which

    1) If a child participates in cooking classes, they will develop intellectually as they will learn how food affects growth.
    Do I need a comma before 'as'? I think I do because my understanding is if 'as' means 'because' it will require a comma. Is this correct?


    2) They may also become very aggressive as they cannot control what is happening to them which will result in behaviour problems.
    Do I need a comma before 'as' and 'which.' I think I do but when I use two commas it looks over punctuated.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 20-Mar-2017 at 11:39. Reason: Removed unnecessary box round text

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: comma before as and which

    Quote Originally Posted by gdvibes View Post

    1) If children participate in cooking classes, they will develop intellectually, as they will learn how food affects growth.
    Do I need a comma before 'as'? Yes.

    I think I do because my understanding is if 'as' means 'because' it will require a comma. Is this correct?


    2) Children may also become very aggressive, as they cannot control what is happening to them
    , which will result in behaviour problems.
    Do I need a comma before 'as' and 'which.' Yes.

    I think I do
    , but when I use two commas it looks over-punctuated.


    Don't worry! There's no such thing as over-punctuating. Punctuation marks provide a road map for the reader. Put them where they belong. Don't put it where they don't belong. Don't worry about how many or how few punctuation marks you have.

    In American English, plural pronouns may not represent singular nouns. A child is not they. A child is he, she, him, her, he and she, he or she, him and her, or him or her. Because you used plural pronouns throughout, I pluralized child.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #3

    Re: comma before as and which

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    In American English, plural pronouns may not represent singular nouns.
    While your suggested edits are fine, I can't agree with the assertion I've quoted. The plural pronoun they is very widely used to represent a single person in American English. It is true that some editors and holdout sticklers object to this usage.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: comma before as and which

    As a traditonalist in my own writing, I, like GS, prefer the plural noun. However, I do not consider they/them/their with a singular noun incorrect these days. I certainly use them in my own speech. I look forward to themself becoming accepted.

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    #5

    Re: comma before as and which

    The singular they solved a problem for Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the translators of the King James Bible, and many others. I humbly follow in their footsteps.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: comma before as and which

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    While your suggested edits are fine, I can't agree with the assertion I've quoted. The plural pronoun they is very widely used to represent a single person in American English. It is true that some editors and holdout sticklers object to this usage.
    Yes, absolutely. As I always agree and often mention here, they is widely used. Is it universally accepted yet? Maybe. Am I the only person in the English speaking world who thinks plural pronouns only go with plural nouns? I don't think I'm a holdout stickler any more than I think you're lazy, sloppy, or ignorant. I'm not. You're not.

    There's also the widely held belief that there are no rules of grammar and spelling, only practices. I agree with that, too. So which practices should we use? If I have several friends who are jazz musicians. All of them are fluent in reading sheet music and have in-depth understanding of music theory. How did they get there? They all say the same thing: First you learn the book. Then you throw it away.

    We all get that, right? But what book are we talking about when we talk about learning English?

    To put it another way: Where I live, rural New England, not only is they fine, but "Me and him seen this guy drive their skidder right into the lake" is perfectly acceptable. So when a student writes that, what would you correct and what would you leave alone? Where would you draw the line? HOW would you draw the line.

    Any line you draw is arbitrary and subjective. It will probably betray huge class and regional differences, too. The lines we all draw certainly don't have to match. That would be boring! The one I use comes from my own experience. When I studied and worked at the state university, the entire student body and faculty of all the campuses were expected to use the same reference, Dianne Hacker's grammar guide. My friends on the English department faculty and the ESL students who used the tutoring program were all expected to abide by it.

    I say "they" instead of "she" sometimes, too, and will happily welcome the day when, like "you," "they" is accepted as a singular pronoun in all formal printed references. (Although there must be some utility to separating singular from plural forms, or we wouldn't have so many regions that use "you all," "y'all," "youse," and "yiz.")

    But for the purpose of teaching correct, natural American English, it's short-changing students to let them throw the book away before learning it. (Or, here in central Maine, even opening it!) Today, "Me and him seen" is natural for some people but not okay for all people. When Ms. Hacker says it's fine, I will, too.
    Last edited by teechar; 20-Mar-2017 at 18:41.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #7

    Re: comma before as and which

    Quote Originally Posted by gdvibes View Post
    1) If a child participates in cooking classes, they will develop intellectually as they will learn how food affects growth.
    Do I need a comma before 'as'? I think I do because my understanding is if 'as' means 'because' it will require a comma. Is this correct?


    2) They may also become very aggressive as they cannot control what is happening to them which will result in behaviour problems.
    Do I need a comma before 'as' and 'which.' I think I do but when I use two commas it looks over punctuated.

    Why should there be a comma after as

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    #8

    Re: comma before as and which

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    To put it another way: Where I live, rural New England, not only is they fine, but "Me and him seen this guy drive their skidder right into the lake" is perfectly acceptable.
    I very much doubt that Me and him seen this guy is acceptable in school examinations, or at interviews for many white-collar jobs, even in rural New England.

    So when a student writes that, what would you correct and what would you leave alone? Where would you draw the line? HOW would you draw the line.
    They with singular reference is, in 2017, widely accepted in most parts of the English-speaking world. Me and him seen this guy is not. It's as simple as that.

    Any line you draw is arbitrary and subjective.
    'Twas ever thus.

    But for the purpose of teaching correct, natural American English, it's short-changing students to let them throw the book away before learning it.
    Most of us in the ELT world try to enable our learners to communicate efficiently in English in the widest possible/relevant range of situations. If they use singular they in communication with most users of English (or in most internationally recognised English language examinations), few would turn a hair.

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    #9

    Re: comma before as and which

    Quote Originally Posted by gdvibes View Post
    Why should there be a comma after as
    There is a natural pause in speech (shown by the comma in writing) when 'as' has a similar meaning to 'because'. Compare:

    They will understand this better as (= while) they continue to study.
    They understand this better now, as (= because) they have been studying it in depth for some time.

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    #10

    Re: comma before as and which

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    There is a natural pause in speech (shown by the comma in writing) when 'as' has a similar meaning to 'because'. Compare:

    They will understand this better as (= while) they continue to study.
    They understand this better now, as (= because) they have been studying it in depth for some time.

    I understand but could it also be correct without a comma because they will be growing intellectually while they are learning, not because they are learning.
    If a child participates in cooking classes, they will develop intellectually as they will learn how food affects growth.

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