the sooner (,) the better

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I have a question about "the ... the ... " type of sentences: should we put a comma in between the two parts?

I would write a comma, but a colleague of mine said you should not do that. Indeed, I have notice that "the sooner the better" is not always written with comma, but other longer sentences contain a comma:

The longer you keep this wine, the better it tastes
The better your sentence, the easier it is to punctuate.

Can you clarify this point for me? Thanks

Curious Cat

Jul 6, 2005
Longer sentences need commas because each of them has its own subject-predicate set, that's why they should be separated. If "the sooner the better" is used indpendently, to me as a non-native speaker it looks better without any commas :) I'm not a grammarian, so please don't consider it as a rule :)


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Sep 21, 2003
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The general rule of thumb is to use a comma to set off a phrase or clause that expresses a contrast. For example,

[1] The sooner we get her to the hospital, the better off she'll be.
[2] The sooner, the better.

Note, if the phrase or clause is short and part of the flow of the sentence, then a comma is often not used:

[3] The sooner the better.
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