1. Densetsu
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    Densetsu New Member

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    Punctuation Should I place a comma after this phrase?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Densetsu, Jun 11, 2014.

    Hello, my question is simply as stated in the Thread title. Should I place a comma after the phrase Fifteen years ago found in the sentence below?

    "Fifteen years ago, local firefighters were called to the nearby hospital after it having succumb to an accidental fire."

    Several random posts on internet forums I have read suggested in a situation like this no comma is needed. Likewise, I have read other forums were they claim the opposite. What are your thoughts?

    Btw for the phrase "after it having succumb to" ... did I structure it well? Or should I reword it?
    Thanks!!
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Technically a comma is required, but in creative writing, it's the writer's choice (i.e., it depends on what effect the writer is going for).
     
  3. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Yes, comma. I'm not sure what creative effect could result from leaving it out.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Consider the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
    Now take out the commas and read it again. Do you notice a difference in how you read it? You should.
     
  5. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    If you're talking to me, I was referring to the OP's sentence. Of course removing commas can alter the meaning of some text.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the comma is needed, since those words are an adverbial phrase answering 'when?'... it could also be placed after 'hospital'...

    'having succumb to' is ungrammatical... should be 'having succumbed to'... and 'it having succumbed to' is very awkward and over-worded, as well as making little sense, since that verb doesn't really apply well to a hospital fire... a more readable/coherent sentence would be:

    "Fifteen years ago, local firefighters were called to the nearby hospital, to put out an accidental fire."
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm not talking about meaning; I'm talking about how the passage is read. From the Chicago Manual of Style:

    "The comma, aside from its technical uses in mathematical, bibliographical, and other contexts, indicates the smallest break in sentence structure. It denotes a slight pause. Effective use of the comma involves good judgment, with ease of reading the end in view."

    That small break, or "slight pause," affects how the reader reads the passage.
     

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