Tags:
  1. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0

    a comma before the AND

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by linchpin, Sep 21, 2009.

    Sometimes grammar references told us that you cannot put a comma between the two verbs of a double predicate sentence, but I often found that usage in articles in famous websites or newspapers. Could you please tell me whether the following sentences are right or not and why. And another question is whether the two verbs in a double predicate sentence can show two difference tenses. Thanks for your help.

    1) I was passing by, and notice your posting.

    2) The police have installed 2.75 million surveillance cameras since 2003 and are expanding the system into the countryside

    3) we understood to mean that she had reached an impasse, and needed to be lowered.
     
  2. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    I wouldn't put a comma in 1) and 3). There should be a comma before a coordinating conjunction if the two clauses around it are independent clauses. In fiction you might see a comma before a coordination conjunction even though the clause after it is a dependent clause. However, this is only to signify a pause in the narrative, and I would argue that there is nothing wrong with that.

    By the way, sentence 1) makes no sense. I'm assuming you meant "noticed" instead of "notice."
     
  3. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Thirdwind,
    Thanks for your answer.
    For the 3) instance, it's from Nytimes.com, and I think those editors are very serious and responsible; thus, I am very confused. I have digged much on websites but got nothing specifics of it yet. I don't see any topcs on gramma forums about it. Could you please give me some leads?
    And for 1) or the other 2 samples, I am also confused by the two different tenses that modify the same subject. Does it make any sence?
     
  4. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Are you sure that's the sentence they used in the NY Times? It seems like it's missing a word, so either you made a mistake copying the sentence or the editors of NY Times are not doing a good job.

    1) doesn't make sense because the first clause is in the past tense while the second clause is in present tense.

    You can check out sites or even books that teach grammar. They can probably do a much better job at teaching grammar than I can. I can't think of any sites off the top of my head, but if you do a quick search, I'm sure you'll find plenty of resources.
     
  5. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Please refer to :

    I checked it again, and it's still there. I never found any mistake left there for more than 3 days of nytimes, so I assume it's not a mistake. In my opinion, nytimes editors are living gramma books.
    As I have said, I checked many sites, but most say you cannot put a comma between a compound verbs, and I found that a comma links two verbs ("and" between) basically have two tenses. Therefore, I need someone to give me an official explanation or reference so that I can understand.
     
  6. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    By the way, you should know what we have a policy against offsite links. You may want to edit your post and delete the link.

    You left out a little portion of the sentence when you copied it. The phrase before "...which we understood to mean..." is important to the sentence. The sentence itself makes sense, but I'm not quite sure why there is a comma before "and." I would not have put it there. My best guess is that it was placed there to signify a dramatic pause in the narration. The only other reason it could be there is because the editors thought the clause before "and" is too long. Thus, adding a comma would help break the long sentence into smaller fragments which are easier to read. But like I said, this is just a guess.
     
  7. witch wyzwurd
    Offline

    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Racine, Wisconsin
    I work for a newspaper. There are grammatical and syntactical mistakes all the time. I've even seen repeated paragraphs. Although you've never seen the NYTimes leave mistakes on their web site , that doesn't mean there aren't any.

    This can be right.

    Break it down as follows:

    I was passing by, and I notice your posting.

    Here's another example:

    I was looking for beautiful women, and find you.

    Hmmm. It's somewhat conversational. Like if someone asks you and your friends what you're doing at the moment, you might say: We were just hanging out. That doesn't necessarily mean that you are no longer hanging out.

    Since the job isn't started or complete in the countryside, to say the police have expanded the system into the countryside would be reporting false facts. In example 1), the phrase after the comma doesn't directly relate to the information in the phrase before the conjunction. The person was passing by, but not looking for a posting. That was just a happenchance result of passing by. In 2), there is no comma after the conjunction because the phrase after the conjunction directly relates to the phrase before it.

    (I apologize for not being able to use technical terms when speaking about grammatical/syntactical issues. I can eye the data, but I just don't know all the jargon for expressing it; hence, the long examples.).

    First off, let's view the whole sentence:
    This is correct.

    It can be read as follows:

    One finally called out “Descendez-moi,” and needed to be lowered.

    Here's another example:

    I finally yelled "Shut up," which Suzy took as a joke, and ate a sandwich.
     
  8. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Whoops, I was wrong for 3). I read the sentence wrong on the NY Times page (I need some sleep ASAP, been reading papers all day).

    WW is right about 3). However, I would have phrased the sentence better. I don't like the long phrase in the middle beginning with "which." It kind of makes the sentence awkward to read.
     
  9. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for Thirdwind's red eyes(absolutely from staying up) on my posting and thanks for Witch Wyzwurd detailed explanation. By the way, I want to say sth. of the NY times. I think it's the best one among its couterparts in USA. I've read many ones, but Nytimes is the best one. Though, as WW mentioned, there're mistakes on it; one can easily find there's a column for correction. But it's hardly for you to find some serious gramma mistakes on it, while I found many mistakes on FDA's website, from typo to gramma.
    Now we're clear that all the instances that I listed are right. Especially for 1), I can undertand the difference of whether you put a comma on it or not, but my gramma book told me that this is not right, and even as of yet, I still have not find any authoritative website discuss this phenomenon. The only explanation, I guess, is it's actually two independent setences when the latter one was omitted the subject.
    Yet for the 3), I guess WW' interpretation might not be accurate. “Descendez-moi,” I assume it is " Descend us", that is to say, they shouted out:"Descend us" and needed to be lowered. Here "and" can only be understood as "thus". But I think there should not be any comma before the "and". If we can interprete it this way, then we can say "that she had reached an impasse, and needed to be lowered. " is also reasonable, as this is what we MEAN of “Descendez-moi”; othewise, you have to interprete “Descendez-moi” as "she had reached an impasse," and that seems not complete
     
  10. witch wyzwurd
    Offline

    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Racine, Wisconsin
    Now knowing what the phrase means, I still think the comma is correct.

    This part is subjective: which we understood to mean that she had reached an impasse,

    This part is objective: One finally called out “Descendez-moi,” and needed to be lowered.

    The objective part could be written as: One finally called out “Descendez-moi,” and that one needed to be lowered.

    I don't know if thus would necessarily be the right option here. You're assuming the people who thought the french phrase meant "impasse" also knew it meant "descend us" because it was shouted out. It is written from the perspective of non-french speaking people. Also, the climber could of yelled out the french phrase then was lowered (the climber needed to be lowered... not like he was still up there waiting to be lowered).

    Try this:

    One martian yelled "Aziferspluf," which linchpin assumed to mean that the martian was hungry, and needed to be spoon-fed.

    (translation)

    One martian yelled "Feed me," and needed to be spoon fed.

    You have to think about the fact that were talking about something that already happened. And that we don't know what is being said when it is said. We're just observing the situation when it happens and learning meanings later on. Also keep in mind that you actually watched the martian get spoon-fed.
     
  11. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    My grammar book by Warriner says not to use commas for compound predicates. I imagine the reason the NY times did this in the first sentence is because of the tense change.
     
  12. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    that means 'lower me'... not 'us'... 'moi' is 'me' and 'nous' is 'us'...

    and the comma is often optional, usage rules 'n regs not as rigid in all cases, as for some other marks...
     
  13. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi WW,
    Your instance is a good one. Let's take a look at it. It can be shortened as following:
    "The martian yelled and needed to be fed up." And I assume this is the writer WW wants to say in his insance. My question is when you only want to state an object as " A martian yelled", and all the rest is subordinative, what would you say? maybe you have omit the comma between "hungry" and "AND" as "One martian yelled "Aziferspluf," which linchpin assumed to mean that the martian was hungry and needed to be spoon-fed."
    Now comes the point, as WW indicates, when the 2nd verb is nonessential to the first verb, you have to use a comma, and here is a paradox, that why there's no comma between "hungry" and "AND".
     
  14. witch wyzwurd
    Offline

    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Racine, Wisconsin
    linchpin. You lost me.

    According to your sentence...

    One martian yelled "Aziferspluf," which linchpin assumed to mean that the martian was hungry and needed to be spoon-fed.

    ...there wouldn't need to be a comma after hungry. Your sentence explains that linchpin translated the martians speech to mean hungry and spoon-fed. But try this sentence...

    One martian yelled "Aziferspluf comisertug," which linchpin assumed to mean that the martian was hungry, and that's all linchpin could figure out.

    Ther preceding sentence is a bad one. It could be used, and would rely on the reader's intelligence to understand it correctly. But it would be best to break it down for easier reading:

    One martian yelled "Aziferspluf comisertug." (l)inchpin assumed Aziferspluf meant that the martian was hungry, but he couldn't decipher the word "comisertug."
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    to most who speak english, to be 'fed up' means they're reached the upper limit of their patience, not to be given food...
     
  16. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Mammaia. I don't speak English, but I like English, for I enjoy reading many works written by English.
    And ww. , it seems I did confuse you.
    Let's put it another way. My topic is that why a comma before the AND in a double predicate sentence. Your answer gives me an express that if the 2nd phrase is non essential to the first phrase, we could(or should?) use a comma. Yet in my 3) instance and your instance, how could we explain which way the comma goes?
    E.g., in my instance 3), "which we understood to mean that she had reached an impasse, " this could be seen as an interrupter as you said, but it could also, together with the rest, be seen as a translation to "One finally called out “Descendez-moi” because "and needed to be lowered" is non-essential to "she had reached an impasse, " and that comma before it does make sense. Thus, there're two explanations for this sentence. Am I clear?
     
  17. witch wyzwurd
    Offline

    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Racine, Wisconsin
    Linchpin, I'm getting lost in your posts. It would be alot easier if you explained yourself fully and correctly. Your misspelled words and misplaced words and broken sentences and unseparated paragraphs is getting in the way.

    Take the time to list your questions and assumptions in a more legible manner, and then I can better assist you.
     
  18. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    we understand that you are not fluent in english, linch, but i have to agree with ww that your posts being near incomprehensible make it hard, to impossible for us to reply to them...
     
  19. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for WW and Maia answers.
    I am trying to make it explicit as far as I can
    (1) I still have a question about the usage of the comma in my instance 3).
    (2) In instance 3), the main clause is-One finally called out “Descendez-moi,” and needed to be lowered. Right? And the clause "which we understood to mean that she had reached an impasse, " can be seen as an interrupter. Right?
    (3) now let's come to my first instance: I was passing by, and notice your posting.
    You accept this usage and list your own sample: I was looking for beautiful women, and find you.
    ** I assume you are right and deduce sth. out as following:
    △△As in grammar books, you cannot put a comma between two clauses unless the 2nd is non-essential to the main clause. In this way, we analyse your instance as following:
    I was looking for beautiful women this is the main clause. It has a completing meaning. Without "and find you", the main clause still can express itself clearly, as it can mean "I didn't find you" when " I was looking for a beautiful woman", and now, "I find you". I think this is the way we can explain my instance 1) and your instance.
    (4) Let's come back to my 3). Remember we have already an interpretation in the said
    (2)- the interrupter? I think I can educe another meaning based on the above (3)
    ** Now we take "One finally called out “Descendez-moi,” as the main clause. From "which" to the end is the whole subordinate clause. Why does this make sense? As in △△, we can understand "she had reached an impasse, and needed to be lowered. " easily. She had reached an impasse(we don't know wheter she was still in the dilemma), but NOW she needed to be lowered.
    Thank you for your patience for reading all these words.
     
  20. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'd also appreciate it very much that you point out where it rubs native speakers the wrong way

     
  21. witch wyzwurd
    Offline

    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Racine, Wisconsin
    It's not necessarily a native speaker thing. But look at your post. There's no white space. It looks like one big blob of blackness. Very daunting. Special symbols don't help neither. It only makes it look like a calculus problem, which is worse since this is a writer's forum not a mathematician's forum.

    Plus, you're asking for our help, so make it easy for us. If you have to actually repeat your examples, then do so. Don't leave it up to us to go back searching through your thread to read full sentences and such. And don't list half-examples; by doing so you're altering their meanings.

    Read the following again. Concentrate on "we saw climbers from Quebec poised near the top of an ascent, seemingly unable to go farther." That means the narrator was there when the climber was stuck.
    If you're questioning if the narrator could have seen the climber stuck, but not have actually heard the climber yell out "Descendez-moi," but, instead, was told by another onlooker that the climber yelled out "Descendez-moi," and, at the same time, assumed that the climber's exclamation, which was conveyed by the onlooker, meant that an impasse was reached, then you're putting imaginary meaning into the alphabet soup and creating a message of your own. If that's the case, then, sure, you can put the comma wherever you like.
     
  22. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    'which' only refers to the french plea, 'Descendez-moi' and of course has to be preceded by a comma, since it's a subordinate clause... the comma after 'and,' however, is not needed, but is also not incorrect, if the writer wants to indicate a pause there...

    does that clear up your confusion, linch?
     
  23. linchpin
    Offline

    linchpin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi, WW & MM,
    Thanks for the efforts for trying to pull me out of it. And WW, you are right, I should've made a good edit of my posts.

    Instead, I am still befuddled by your replies. Maybe you will say, oh, come on, you are really boring; I'm going to other posts. You just stuck there with yourself.

    But wait a minute and give me seconds on my new findings.

    As I stated at the beginning, this post is a question of comma in double-predicate sentences. Many grammar books, websites, claim that it is incorrect to use a comma between the two verbs in a double-predicate sentence. Since WW holds the positive idea of the acceptance of such a usage, please check the following.

    However, when necessary, that in cases it will cause ambiguity, you will need a comma.

    E.g. I’ll go to the supermarket to get dinner and fill up the car with gas.

    constructing the sentence this way might cause confusion. This is meant to communicate, “I’ll go to the supermarket to get dinner,” and, “I’ll fill up the car with gas,” but without the comma, it could be read as “I’ll go to the supermarket to get dinner” and “I’ll go to the supermarket to fill up the car with gas.” The latter doesn’t make any sense, but it’s better not to make your reader stop and reason through that. In cases where confusion may result from no comma usage, many consider it acceptable to use a comma:

    I’ll go to the supermarket to get dinner, and fill up the car with gas.

    All in all, I can hardly find anything bracket the usage like : I was looking for beautiful women, and find you.

    Now, what would you say, WW & MM?
     
  24. witch wyzwurd
    Offline

    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Racine, Wisconsin
    Maybe it's the fact your native tongue isn't English. I don't know. But I can't figure out what you're trying to communicate. Sorry. It seems like you say one thing's a problem, but then go off and bring up something else in an example.
     
  25. Kas
    Offline

    Kas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    The ***hole of the world
    linchpin, I understood your post, and you're on the right track. You were right about your supermarket example. I would use a comma. Some people wouldn't. It's a matter of opinion, but your reasoning is correct.

    As for the last, I would write, "I was looking for beautiful women, and then I found you."

    I don't think the comma is required, but it's a lot like using a turn signal when driving. Some people think it's obvious when they're about to make a turn, so they don't bother. That's a bad idea. You should always use your turn signal when driving! I tend to apply the same thought to my comma placement, though sometimes I omit the comma for a more fluid sentence.

    Without the turn signal (comma), the reader is apt to expect a list of things I was looking for. . as in, "I was looking for beautiful women and herpes."

    If you write a list, then say something else, you definitely need a comma.

    "I was looking for beautiful women and herpes, and then I found you." <-- Comma required, IMO
     

Share This Page