1. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Comma in here?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lameri, Sep 10, 2011.

    I went home at night because it would make no sense for me to stay there if nothing was going to be done, while you needed me at home.
    ----
    I think the rule is to take it off because the subordination is in the second clause (not the first) so, leaving out the conditional, you would write:
    "I went home at night because it would make no sense for me to stay while you needed me at home"

    On the other hand, if I take it off, it sounds as if the conjunction implies time (nothing to be done at the same time as you needed me at home).

    Do you have a preference?
    Thank you!
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I like the second version better. The first is far too wordy.

    A comma before "while" is proper when you're using it as a contradiction...for example, "I like the color red best, while most of my friends prefer blue." If you're using "while" more in the sense of during a specific bit of time, i.e. "I babysat the kids while the parents went to the award ceremony," you don't need a comma.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the comma is needed in this case, since 'while' is a substitute for 'because' and is not meaning 'at the same time as'...
     
  4. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    That was exactly my thinking but, like I said, what about the second sentence (no if statement), would you also write a comma in front of "while" in here?
    "I went home at night because it would make no sense for me to stay while you needed me at home"
     
  5. Timothy Giant
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    Timothy Giant Member

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    Now this might be an extremely strange idea, but, given the second sentence, I would add a comma before 'because':
    "I went home at night, because it would make no sense for me to stay while you needed me at home."
    This makes the part after 'because' the subordinate clause, which seems more logical to me, as it states the reason for you leaving early.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the sentence is hard work however you punctuate it, so my preference would be to rewrite it. Even a minor rewrite, shuffling the order and removing some of the verbosity, would help:
    "I went home at night because you needed me at home, and it made no sense to stay if nothing was going to be done."​
    There's a serial comma in there. Some love them, some hate them. I think the smart money is on using them when they make the sentence flow better and not using them when they don't. I like that one, but it could legitimately be taken out. Or you could split it into two:
    "I went home at night because it made no sense to stay if nothing was going to be done. You needed me at home."​
    Or even three sentences:
    "I went home at night because it made no sense to stay. Nothing was going to be done. You needed me at home."​
    I'd go for that last one, but I don't know the speaker's voice.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want the reader to pause there, you could add a comma before 'while'... it's a matter of styling more than a rule... some writers/editors/publishing house styles lean toward a lot of commas and some to as few as possible...
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually can't understand what you mean in this sentence.

    Unless you say something like:

    "I went home at night because it MADE no sense for me to stay there DOING NOTHING while you needed me at home."

    The above way no commas are needed and the tense is clear, although the 'while' isn't clearly meaning 'because' instead of 'at the same time' in these sentences.

    "...it would make no sense..."? When would it? At some future point? Do you mean, "...it would have made no sense..."? Maybe it's a American English thing, the instinctive avoidance of the perfect tense at all costs...

    Still don't think I've totally grasped what you're trying to say, sorry.
     

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