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    • Join Date: Oct 2005
    • Posts: 71
    #1

    Unhappy drowning in a sea of commas...

    Hello,

    I'd like you to tell me whether the commas in the following example are correctly used:

    "Rooms in, and buildings around, the house"
    (it's a test aimed to revise rooms and a few buidings around the house(the garage, the barn, etc.)
    I simply don't understand the use of commas in the above-mentioned example.
    Shouldn't it be:
    "Rooms in and buildings around the house" ?

    Thank you,
    angela


    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 394
    #2

    Re: drowning in a sea of commas...

    "Rooms in, and buildings around, the house"...

    "Rooms in and buildings around the house."
    Some of the "rules" about comma usage are left up to the discretion of the writer. Of course, there are situations where commas are required; "required" in the sense that if you leave them out you've made a grammar error. For example, after what is intended to be a non-restrictive relative clause:

    Tom ran over the cat, which annoyed his wife.

    Tom ran over the cat which annoyed his wife. X

    (Gee, all that poor cat said was that her shoes didn't go with her dress...)

    The comma is required. However, sometimes commas are optional. Here's the question: is there something about the meaning of "rooms in, and buildings around, the house" that suddenly becomes unclear or misleading when changed to "rooms in and buildings around the house"? Not to me. Both are completely clear to my reading, and so I say the commas are optional. Some may prefer the commas, or sincerely believe the look or sound better. That's fine. But are they required? Others may disagree, but I say no. I'm with you. Lose the commas: not because they're wrong, but simply because they're unnecessary.

    Greg


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #3

    Re: drowning in a sea of commas...

    This seems to relate to an ongoing dissatisfaction with finding just the right "subtitle". Do you mean "subtitle" or subheading?
    How about:
    "Let me show you around my new house"
    ............The rooms, and (the) outbuildings.

    I take note of dragn's post, and agree - and use a comma here pointedly, to indicate a separation between the rooms of the house, and the separate, adjacent outbuildings.

    As dragn says, it's a matter of the writer's taste, and in the subtitle/subheading I've suggested, the meaning would probably be just as clear without! (I think the comma adds a certain cadence to the sentence.)

    outbuilding: a building, such as a shed, barn, or garage, on the same property but separate from a more important one, such as a house.
    Last edited by David L.; 24-Apr-2009 at 04:32.

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    #4

    Re: drowning in a sea of commas...

    I quite like that with the with the cat: Tom didn't like his wife. To annoy her he ran over her cat. Or was it the cat that annoyed his wife?


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #5

    Re: drowning in a sea of commas...

    Tom ran over the cat, which annoyed his wife.

    Tom ran over the cat which annoyed his wife.


    Omission of the comma only leads to poor grammar. It then refers to a particular cat of all the cats they own - the one that annoyed his wife - and so should be:

    Tom ran over the cat that annoyed his wife.

    Commas may come and go at a writer's whim - good grammar remains a final salvation of meaning.

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    #6

    Re: drowning in a sea of commas...

    Do you know that the lack of commas can cost lives?

    In ancient times, in an outpost of the Roman Empire, a man was condemned to death.

    He appealed to Ceasar in Rome. Ceasar read his appeal, found in favour of the accused and replied. A messenger brought the reply to the outpost, and handed it to the Commanding Officer. He read it, and had the man crucified.

    It said: Pardon no crucifixion

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    #7

    Re: drowning in a sea of commas...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post

    It said: Pardon no crucifixion
    Ouch!

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