Tags:
  1. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19

    Punctuation comma before ‘because’

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by dillseed, May 5, 2014.

    I'm not going to the banquet[,] because I dislike Judy.
    The comma before "because" in this sentence means that I'm not going to the banquet. Period. The sole reason is that I dislike Judy.
    *In this sentence I *am not* going to the banquet.

    I'm not going to the banquet because I dislike Judy.
    Omission of the comma before "because" in this sentence says that I'm not going to the banquet because I dislike Judy; I am in fact going to the banquet, but for an unspecified reason altogether different.
    *In this sentence *I am* going to the banquet.

    Is this correct punctuation? Does the inclusion of the comma in the first sentence and the omission of the comma in the second sentence change each sentence's meaning due to the reasons I've outlined?

    Would you encourage this punctuation, or lack thereof, to represent the change in each sentence's meaning?

    Thank you. :)
     
  2. minstrel
    Online

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,726
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I read your second example the opposite of the way you do. I think

    I'm not going to the banquet because I dislike Judy.

    means you're not going to the banquet, and it's because you dislike Judy. There may be other reasons, too. But you're not going to the banquet, that's for sure. It just seems more emphatic than the first version - it almost wants an exclamation point instead of a period.

    I can see how it can be read the other way, though. Maybe you should rephrase:

    I'm going to the banquet, but not because I dislike Judy.
     
  3. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    Excellent.

    Thank you. :)
     
  4. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    To me they both read the same. In creative writing, you can use commas pretty much anywhere you want to signify a dramatic pause. So your first example would be correct in creative writing but not in formal writing.
     
  5. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    Awesome. Thank you.

    I'll just omit the comma in all instances.
     
  6. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    I think less commas are better in general (for no particular reason), although I think I tend to use commas too much as it is, such as in this sentence, maybe. (?)
     
  7. minstrel
    Online

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,726
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I don't like using too many commas either. If I can find an excuse to leave one out, I'll leave it out. I like a faster pace, and if a comma slows me down when I'm reading aloud, it goes.
     
  8. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    In the following sentence, would you eliminate the comma after 'frankly' as I've done?

    Joseph hated the way his son treated strangers, and quite frankly I did too.

    And would you forgo the comma after 'fairness' below as I did?

    I admit that I made a bad call on the ball field, and in the interest of fairness I will reverse my decision.

    No comma after 'involved'?

    I admit that I made a bad call on the ball field, and in the interest of fairness to everyone involved I will reverse my decision.
     
  9. minstrel
    Online

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,726
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    There are several ways to handle this, @dillseed, and in my view, they'd all be acceptable. It depends on the tone you're aiming for. All of your examples in the post above are first-person; the question is, how does this person talk? Where does he put the pauses? Where does the character want the commas to be?
     

Share This Page