The redundant comma?

Status
Not open for further replies.

bertietheblue

Senior Member
Joined
May 21, 2010
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
Why use a comma if the sense is clear without[,] and the comma doesn't in any affect how you read a piece of text (intonation, pauses[,] etc)? I'm asking this because in another thread I've been discussing ', which' non-restrictive relative clauses. If these are unambiguous[,] why do we need a comma? Look at the preceding 'If ...' sentence[,] for example - there's no comma after 'unambiguous'. It mattered before[,] but does it matter now?
 

BobK

Harmless drudge
Staff member
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
Some people and institutions wrongly insist on a comma before 'which', simply because they hold that 'which' should only be used non-restrictively. It's nothing to get upset about, but it explains the angry red line that keeps appearing in WinWord. ;-)

b
 

bertietheblue

Senior Member
Joined
May 21, 2010
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
Some people and institutions wrongly insist on a comma before 'which', simply because they hold that 'which' should only be used non-restrictively. It's nothing to get upset about, but it explains the angry red line that keeps appearing in WinWord. ;-)

b

Yeah, I'm aware of that but what I was asking was: why use a comma if the sense is clear without and the comma does not serve any other purpose (eg to modulate speech)? As an example, we learn that non-restrictive relative clauses are always preceded by a comma because otherwise they might be confused for restrictive relative clauses - since both can begin with the 'which' pronoun - and change the sense of a sentence from that intended. However, often with or without a comma there is only one possible sense so why bother? In other words, how far should grammatical prescription guide us in our punctuation?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top