To comma or not to comma?

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To comma or not to comma?

Postby Dmitri on Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:17 pm

Hello all y'all literary nerds-turned-martial artists; I've got a question.

Variant #1: "I spoke with the team, and while not everyone was in agreement, a consensus was reached."

Variant #2: "I spoke with the team, and, while not everyone was in agreement, a consensus was reached."

To me both are equally valid, and[,] :) while #2 reads a bit heavier, it is IMO completely legitimate grammatically, if the author feels like the extra emphasis/pause is warranted for whatever reason(s).

I have asked several people and everyone thus far vehemently rejected #2.

What is your opinion, and why? (I.e. please substantiate your opinion if you can, especially if you think that there's nothing wrong with #2.)

TIA!
Last edited by Dmitri on Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Michael on Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:08 pm

The correct:

Variant #3: "I spoke with the team and, while not everyone was in agreement, a consensus was reached."

If the sentence is rewritten to make it simpler, we can see it's just contrasting two opposing clauses, and has a time variable:

"Although a consensus was reached when I spoke with the team, not everyone was in agreement."

I don't know the exact grammar rule in play, perhaps an independent clause and a dependent adverb (time) clause, but here are some examples from the book "English Grammar in Use, Intermediate" [2003]

Image

Or these examples from a lesser known grammar book, where example C is operative.

Image
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Steve James on Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:48 pm

I have asked several people and everyone thus far vehemently rejected #2.


Variant #2: "I spoke with the team, and, while not everyone was in agreement, a consensus was reached."


The first comma is mechanically incorrect and stylistically unnecessary. The sentence could be rewritten, but that depends on what the writer actually wants to say. Generally, if a comma is unnecessary, avoid it. For ex:

"I spoke with the team and while everyone was not in agreement a consensus was reached." Using a comma might be grammatically sound, but can you say that the sentence is unreadable the way it is, or would be more understandable or mean something different with commas?

A grammarian might argue that some form of punctuation is necessary because there are two clauses that can be independent. (I spoke with the team) and (Everyone was in agreement).

A logician might argue that the sentence is inconsistent: i.e., a consensus is agreement by a group as a whole.

As an English teacher, I'd prefer v1, but I would accept a version without commas. I'd reject v2 because the comma is misplaced.
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby wayne hansen on Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:54 pm

ITS,THE,INTER,NET
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Steve James on Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:00 pm

I don't think he was writing for the internet. My only cred is a my PhD in English. But, I'm just not a hypercorrect kinda guy. As long as I understand what the writer wants to say, I think it's fine. However, I also think it's important to learn how to use grammar to say exactly what one wants to say --that's if one thinks one has to say is worth anything. I tell my students that language/grammar is totally at their service. I tell them they can write the way they want on the internet and texts.
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby marvin8 on Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:23 pm

Dmitri wrote:Hello all y'all literary nerds-turned-martial artists; I've got a question.

Variant #1: "I spoke with the team, and while not everyone was in agreement, a consensus was reached."

Variant #2: "I spoke with the team, and, while not everyone was in agreement, a consensus was reached."

To me both are equally valid, and[,] :) while #2 reads a bit heavier, it is IMO completely legitimate grammatically, if the author feels like the extra emphasis/pause is warranted for whatever reason(s).

I have asked several people and everyone thus far vehemently rejected #2.

What is your opinion, and why? (I.e. please substantiate your opinion if you can, especially if you think that there's nothing wrong with #2.)

TIA!

For examples, google: "and while not everyone"

IMO, #1 is correct. #2 is not correct.

Another correct version for "extra emphasis/pause:"

"I spoke with the team. And while not everyone was in agreement, a consensus was reached."

Based on copying from https://www.bizpacreview.com/2015/12/21 ... vid=4CDbUK:

Tom Tillison on December 21, 2015 wrote:And while not everyone was in agreement, most Trump supporters were convinced.


Another version:

"I spoke with the team and while not everyone was in agreement, a consensus was reached."

The "and" can be italicized for emphasis.

(Steve James can correct, if wrong.)
Last edited by marvin8 on Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Steve James on Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:25 pm

And while not everyone was in agreement, most Trump supporters were convinced.


It'd be okay with a comma after "and," but it'd be unnecessary. The comma after "agreement" is necessary. If it weren't there, I would expect that there'd be an idea after "were convinced." For example,

"And while not everyone was in agreement, most Trump supporters were convinced that he would win the election."

However, usually one can reverse the order of dependent and independent clauses in a sentence and remove the comma. For ex.,

"Although he didn't die, he was injured." One could also say "He was injured although he didn't die."

Try to do that with "Most Trump supporters were convinced and while not everyone was in agreement." It'd be clear that editing would improve the sentence.:) But, the reason isn't good grammar; it's to make the writing more clear.

If I can read through a student's writing without pausing to try to make sense of sentences, I almost ignore grammar errors --or "infelicities" as one of my teachers used to say. On the internet, I just don't give a frack.
Last edited by Steve James on Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby edededed on Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:12 pm

In English, punctuation is less choice, more rules (e.g. you "have" to have a comma here).

In Japanese, punctuation is more choice, less rules (a lot of commas are placed for performance reasons).
E.g an advertisement like:
"This, is the ice cream for me."
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Steve James on Mon Mar 11, 2019 6:42 pm

The "rules" are there for reasons of clarity. Commas can be critical. For example, the difference between "Hurry, we're going to cook and eat, children" and "Hurry, we're going to cook and eat children." :)
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Michael on Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:08 pm

In English, punctuation is less choice, more rules (e.g. you "have" to have a comma here).


Oxford Comma Dispute Is Settled as Maine Drivers Get $5 Million

Ending a case that electrified punctuation pedants, grammar goons and comma connoisseurs, Oakhurst Dairy settled an overtime dispute with its drivers that hinged entirely on the lack of an Oxford comma in state law.
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Trick on Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:52 pm

wayne hansen wrote:ITS,THE,INTER,NET

as the OP write, its for the literaty nerds, of which im clearly not, so im off,
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby vadaga on Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:23 pm

There is no particular reason to have it be a single sentence. I cannot for the life of me recall if it was Strunk and White or my 10th grade English teacher but I remember being told sometime in the past not to link clauses with 'and' in written communication thus I would go with:

'I spoke with the team. While not everybody was in agreement, a consensus was reached.'

But then again, Schoolhouse Rock had no problem with it:

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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Steve James on Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:14 pm

I cannot for the life of me recall if it was Strunk and White or my 10th grade English teacher but I remember being told sometime in the past not to link clauses with 'and' in written communication thus I would go with:


The "Rule" is not to link independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction. :) Do you see what you wrote up there? Is it wrong? I tend to think it's more important that I understand what you wrote.
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Dmitri on Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:17 pm

Thanks a lot guys!

So what about using a comma purely for emphasis (as long as it's not "forbidden" grammatically)?
E.g. "he ate the soup, and a giant steak, and two whole pizzas, and, even after all that, he still managed to down a pint of ice cream"
I am very well aware that the above can be written in a number of different ways; I'm wondering if that particular sentence is grammatically correct.
Last edited by Dmitri on Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: To comma or not to comma?

Postby Steve James on Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:24 pm

"Correct" will depend on the reader. So, it will depend on the audience you are expecting. For ex., if it were for an academic essay, I'd say it was poorly written. Otoh, if were dialogue in a story, I wouldn't complain --because it would seem like an attempt to sound the way a character speaks.

However, to illustrate, here's a story by a famous writer. Note the sentence structure, or lack of same. There's a reason the story is written this way that also aids an understanding what the writer is trying to say.

http://www.napavalley.edu/people/LYanov ... 20Ship.pdf
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