1. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Do you put commas after joining words?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Infinitytruth, Apr 8, 2011.

    I have a feeling this might be a pretty obvious question, but I can't find anything about it on the net. With joining words like 'before, after, until, since, when, whenever, while' do you put a comma after them? If not, what is their purpose?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't know that i'd call those 'joining' words, since they're not conjunctions, but prepostions... and i can't think an instance right now, where a comma would work after any of them, though they do take a comma before, most of the time... there may be cases where a comma would be needed after, however...

    give me some sample sentences where you're not sure what to do and i can answer you better...
     
  3. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    (commas or comma's?)
    Okay, good to know. Thats just what the website told me. But like I'll see people using commas before words like 'as, where, how' specifically. I can remember, some other cases too where I've seen a comma there, and I'm not sure how it can be there. If it's just a comma splice, or if it's grammatically correct, and I'm just not getting how it can be there.

    If I sound confused (comma here?) it's because I am very confused as to the rules of these bloody commas. I've been able to get a slightly better handle on it (comma?) since I joined this forum, but I still have tons and tons of problems when using comma's. If comma's don't need the 'for, and, nor' rule what's the point of having it?

    Since I came to the site (comma?) I've been trying to keep my comma usage to only 'for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.' To keep it as clean of errors as possible. I think that's improved, and cleaned up my writing a little. The problem with that is I feel like I should be putting a comma at certain points in my writing, or it'll end up being a runon sentence.

    So I'd say what my problem is, is that I don't know how to safely use 'comma's' (That looks better) without turning it into a runon sentence, or alternatively the very lovely comma splice that I end up with, so often in my writing.

    Feel like a therapist? I'm feeling somewhat like a comedian writer right now with this post. Lol, I have terrible comma trauma. :eek:

    Here are some sentences, that I have seen around with comma's that I'm not sure why there are comma's:

    1. In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family, avocados were meant for sweet, not savory dishes.

    How is that not a runon? I see that a lot. When I do it, it becomes a runon. :mad:
     
  4. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    Basically all of those words are supposed to create independent clauses, which can happen at the beginning of a sentence or at the end.

    For example:

    Before I brush my teeth, I eat my breakfast.
    or
    I eat my breakfast before I brush my teeth.

    Sometimes a word like before used alone might need a comma for clarification. For example,

    Before, I used to think football stars were hot. Now, I think they're huge and bulky.

    Some of the words in your list such as "while" and "until" are only used in full clauses and don't really appear by themselves as in the football star case.

    Hope this makes sense.
     
  5. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    oops. I meant dependent clause in the above post, not independent.
     
  6. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    @infinitytruth:

    I can totally give you the skinny on why your sentence is not a run-on.

    1. In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family, avocados were meant for sweet, not savory dishes.

    Ok. Here goes.

    The sentence is what we call a "complex" sentence, which means it has an independent clause and a dependent clause. An independent clause is a complete sentence in and of itself, and literally if you took away the other part, it would remain a complete sentence that is perfectly usable. Get it? It's "independent" of the rest of the sentence if it chooses to be.

    In your sentence, the independent clause is the following: "Avocados were meant for sweet, not savory dishes." When you look at it, it makes sense as a complete sentence, right?

    The thing is that the next part of the sentence is a dependent clause, which means that it depends on the independent clause in order to qualify as a sentence. Literally, all by itself, it would be a fragment.

    The dependent clause in your sentence is the following: "In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family." See how it doesn't make sense all by itself? It doesn't give a verb in this case, and it really needs something to come after it in order to work.

    The thing is that you can join the independent with the dependent to make a complex sentence. The dependent clause can go BEFORE the independent clause, like your example, OR you can put it after. When you put it after, you don't need an additional comma.

    Example:
    Avocados were meant for sweet, not savory dishes in the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan's family.

    Pretty nifty, huh?
     
  7. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Yeah, that's amazing but indeed a 'complex sentence'. The name really suits, lol. I love this stuff though! :D
     
  8. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    I know. I always thought the word "complex" was very fitting. In any case, complex sentences are very useful for transitions. I try to show my kids how to use them in essay writing all of the time. But, of course, they also work with creative writing as well.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    (commas or comma's?)

    ...commas never takes an apostrophe unless you're using it as a possessive... such as:

    the plural does not have one:

    get the difference?

    i explained that already... that would be in the case of a qualifying prepositional phrase that needs to be set off from the base sentence:

    you'll have to show me examples of 'how' done that way...
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have to disagree, or rather expand on it. There is one other permissable context for comma's: You can use it as a contraction of comma is.

     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nice try, but no. "In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family." isn't any sort of a clause, because a clause must contain a verb. "In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family" is a prepositional phrase, not a dependent clause.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    of course you're right, cog!

    i just didn't think of that one... blame it on the early hour and not having had my green tea yet... ;-)
     
  13. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    I think it depends on the type of sentence you are writing.

    I usually see commas come after those words whenever the sentence is started with that specific word.

    Though, when they are in the middle of a sentence, they usually do not.

    But like I said, it depends on your sentence.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Am I the only one who thinks that this sentence must have another comma in order to be correct? To me, it should be:

    In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family, avocados were meant for sweet, not savory, dishes.

    Both sweet and savory are modifying dishes, and I think that you need a comma to communicate that.

    The sentence could be rephrased as:

    In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family, avocados were meant for sweet dishes, not savory dishes.

    or

    In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family, avocados were meant for sweet dishes but not savory dishes.

    ChickenFreak
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no good grammatical reason i know of for that comma to be placed before 'savory'... though i can see why you'd think so, since when read, one tends to pause a tad, there...
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    (Edited to ask: You mean after 'savory, right?)

    I'm failing to find an example that confirms or denies my interpretation. Without the comma, it seems to me that "sweet" doesn't clearly modify "dishes". For example, the sentence could be changed to:

    In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family, avocados were meant for desserts, not savory dishes.

    Here, we're referring to "desserts" and "savory dishes", so a comma after "savory" would be wrong. But in the original sentence, we're referring to "sweet dishes" and "savory dishes". To me, that requires the comma after "savory".

    But I don't know the terminology required to properly research this. Grumble.

    ChickenFreak

    Edited to add: Aha! I just found an example, if not a definite rule, in the text of a web page about commas. :) They don't present this sentence as an example; it's part of the text:

    Comma usage is one of the most complex, and most misunderstood, questions of proper punctuation.

    to me, this is exactly analogous to:

    In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family, avocados were meant for sweet, not savory, dishes.

    I think that this sentence would become incorrect if the comma after "misunderstood" were removed, making the sentence:

    Comma usage is one of the most complex, and most misunderstood questions of proper punctuation.

    and, similar, the original sentence is wrong if the comma is removed, making the sentence:

    In the Vietnamese cooking of Hop Phan’s family, avocados were meant for sweet, not savory dishes.

    ChickenFreak
     
  17. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not something to grumble about. Delightful when these things come naturally.

    Tis a parenthetical comma.
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You've already been pointed to the terminology for the "sweet" case -- the commas set off a parenthetic phrase. In the "desserts" case "savoury dishes" form a single unit (a noun phrase) which is why there's no comma. If you did put a comma in there (or a corresponding pause when speaking) the effect would be to make "savory" parenthetic and so you'd have "desserts dishes" which is wrong.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cf... yes, i did mean 'after'... thanks for the catch!
     

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