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  1. Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland

    • Join Date: Jan 2006
    • Posts: 2,083

    Smile Commas once more

    Punctuation has been discussed here so many times that some may think it's a shame I am doing that once more. But I've an observation that is quite, well, funny in my eyes, and I want to share it with you. Let's go with it.

    First of all, theory (still sometimes practiced in formal writing) gives many rules for using commas. Most of them can be omitted and usually are, especially in contemporary writing that aims not to sound too formal, such as that of magazines and fiction. For example, commas should be put before coordinating conjunctions, the examples of which are and and but. This rule is very often violated, especially when there's no ambiguity and the clauses joined are not too complex. Another rule is that before a clause starting with a subordinating conjunction, the examples of which may be although and because, a comma should not be put. This rule is also quite often disregarded and the comma is put before the subordinating conjunction.

    So quite often we may find sentences similar to the second one of the following passage:
    "It was raining. I was very tired and I was totally wet, because I had forgotten the umbrella."

    Let us note that being strict we should write this sentence as:
    "I was very tired, and I was totally wet because I had forgotten the umbrella."

    First, it's clearer and more precise, and second, the rules are not violated. But still people love using a comma before "because" even where it's not required and does not help understand the sentence.

    My main point and question is, why people like to add commas in such places (read: before subordinating conjunctions) even though (1) it's against the corresponding rule, and (2) the tendency is to use as few commas as possible?

    Just a remark of mine. I'd be happy to learn your opinion on this.


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

    • Join Date: Feb 2003
    • Posts: 16,551

    Re: Commas once more

    Why do it? Habit, I suppose.


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