Tags:
  1. Edward G
    Offline

    Edward G Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    Messages:
    248
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Orleans area

    Subortinating Conjuctions

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Edward G, Feb 8, 2011.

    I was reading out of Jan Venolia's book, Write Right, about subordinating conjunctions, and I'm a bit confused.

    Because is a a subordinating conjunction, and subordinating conjunctions are supposed to be used between dependent and independent clauses; however, consider the following sentence:

    Always yield to temptation, because it may not pass by your way again.​

    In the above, because seems to separate two independent clauses. Couldn't a complete sentence be made from the phrase: "It may not pass by your way again."? Or does the pronoun "It" at the beginning of the sentence require an antecedent (thus making the clause dependent)?

    To protect my GPA, I had to drop an upper-level class in English grammar class in college for just this kind of crap. I've never gotten over it.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Edward
     
  2. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    'because it may not pass by your way again' and
    'may not pass by your way again' are both dependent clauses, i.e. they can't stand alone as sentences.

    'It may not pass by your way again.' can stand alone as a sentence, so it is an independent clause. The 'it' refers to the previous sentence, but that still doesn't make it a dependent clause, as far as grammar is concerned.

    'because' is a conjunction = joining word. You need something to glue the 2 sentences:
    Always yield to temptation. It may not pass by your way again.
    together. So:
    Always yield to temptation BECAUSE it may not pass by your way again. (no comma, btw)
     
  3. Edward G
    Offline

    Edward G Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    Messages:
    248
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Orleans area
    Okay, so you're saying that the sample sentence is made of two independent clauses. Perhaps the sample given in the book is a bad example, then. Or, perhaps "because" is not a good example of a subordinating conjunction.

    However, you definitely do use a comma. Two independent clauses seperated by a conjucntion always have a comma before the conjunction. Granted the Chicago Manual of Style gives some leeway on this in contemporary writing; however, I am not a contemporary kind of guy, so a comma is going there until you pry it from my cold lifeless fingers.:mad:
     
  4. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    No, you don't have to put a comma before the conjunction. You don't put a comma between short, balanced independent clauses with 'because'. I didn't say never put a comma before 'because'--you sometimes need one to avoid ambiguity, or if it's like parenthetic comment. I suggest you look this up--there are loads of examples you can find about this.
     
  5. Top Cat
    Offline

    Top Cat Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    England
    I would put a comma after 'because.' Now I'm troubled, and want this resolved!
     
  6. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Nooooooo! Just--don't. Ever.

    Off to lie down now.
     
  7. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Yes, a complete sentence could be made of "It may not pass your way again", but that doesn't tell you whether or not it's an independent clause. If it couldn't be a complete sentence then it would have to be dependent, but as it is you can't tell without looking at the conjunction. In this case it's a subordinating conjunction, so it's a dependent clause.
     
  8. Edward G
    Offline

    Edward G Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    Messages:
    248
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Orleans area
    As I said when I referenced what is probably the most authoritative text on the issue, there is some leeway given. I, however, choose to put a comma before because when it joins two independent clauses, and obviously so does Jan Venola in Write Right, since that is where I got the example from. Therefore, I suggest you do some looking up on this.
     
  9. Edward G
    Offline

    Edward G Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    Messages:
    248
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Orleans area
    Okay, that makes sense, and I suspected that might be the case. In fact, I suppose that gives meaning to the term "subordinating" in that it subordinates the otherwise independent clause that follows making it dependent as used.
     
  10. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    And I wish I could find my copy of the Longman student grammar to make sure I'm right, because the stuff I'm finding on the web is inconsistent. :rolleyes:
     
  11. N@asha
    Offline

    N@asha Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    3
    Always yield to temptation, because it may not pass by your way again.

    Should be written:

    Always yield to temptation because it may not pass by your way again.

    OR

    Because it may not pass your way again, always yield to temptation.


    For subordinating conjunctions my understanding is when the independant clause is first and the dependant second there shouldn't be a comma. However if the dependant clause is first there should be a comma.
     
  12. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Again, maybe British style differs from US style, but I've checked a corpus of about 3 million words and subordinating conjunctions usually (but not always) are set off by a preceding comma. I can't find anything stating a rule either way, and the Longman Student Grammar (I've found it now) sometimes has a comma there, sometimes doesn't.
     
  13. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Yes, I've found my textbook now, and that's correct. The giveaway for subordination is that a subordinate clause can be moved to the start of the sentence; a coordinated clause can't:
    I'm still just as afraid of her, although she's no longer my teacher.​
    Can become:
    Although she's no longer my teacher, I'm still just as afraid of her.​
    But
    She's no longer my teacher, but I'm still just as afraid of her.​
    Can't become:
    *But I'm still just as afraid of her, she's no longer my teacher.​
     
  14. N@asha
    Offline

    N@asha Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    3
    Interesting.

    I was taught that a coordinating conjunction does indeed require a comma.

    A subordinating conjunction definately doesn't (the only exception being a contrast e.g whereas and although). I just checked my old uni books.

    Probably a UK thing then.

    EDIT - Actually digitig I've noticed you're in London - I'm in Scotland!
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    a comma is called for before 'because'... not after...
     
  16. N@asha
    Offline

    N@asha Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    3
    Mammamaia,

    Can you explain why the comma should be used before because? (I know it wouldn't go after..)

    All the notes I have from my days at University sugget otherwise and so do the sites on google I've quickly just looked at.

    I'm always open to learning more, but in this case I don't understand why?

    Natasha
     
  17. Edward G
    Offline

    Edward G Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    Messages:
    248
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Orleans area
    Don't confuse this issue with dependent versus independent clauses. If an independent clause is followed by a dependent clause, there would be no comma. What we're talking about is two independent clauses seperated by the word because.

    In that case, because becomes a conjunction seperating two independent clauses, and here's what the Chicago Manual of Style says (in part):

    When the clauses of a compund sentences are joined by a conjunction , a comma is usually placed before the conjunction unless the clauses are short and closely related.

    In contemporary writing, the comma is often omitted, but this open style should be followed only when there is little or no risk of misreading.


    I prefer to use a comma unless it's a sentence like: I prefer the tuba but Betty sings.
     
  18. Chudz
    Offline

    Chudz Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2008
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Suburb outside of Chicago
    Here's where I'm at with subordinating conjunctions. . . .

    They threw me off as well. Then I realized that the simple addition of a subordinating conjunction to an independent clause transformed it into a dependent clause. When that is done, you no longer have a complete idea in that clause and are left wanting more information. Thus you really aren't joining two independent clauses.

    I agree with N@asha on the punctuation used with a subordinate conjunction. But I swear I've seen inconsistencies in how it's done as well.

    I'll have to pay more attention next time to see if those subordinate clauses were created with subordinate conjunctions or relative pronouns. If they're created with relative pronouns, I believe the comma usage is based on whether they contain essential (no comma) or nonessential (comma) information.
     
  19. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    This is for British and Commonwealth English users

    As the OP's original post concerns dependent clauses, I think punctuation matters do have relevancy.

    As you probably know, The Chicago style manual or any other US bible is exactly that--a guide for US practices. It is often very helpful, but quite a few of the 'rules' given are not applicable for us, even though a modified form of these guides is often used by British or Commonwealth universities or publishers.

    Putting in commas is a case in point. A comma is not always needed before a conjunction. Try to be familiar with the practices used in your home country. Don't forget that many of the articles on the Net are written by US users, so check sources before accepting the ideas.

    As to starting a sentence with 'because', just remember that this is slightly frowned on in academic writing, but fine for creative writing in most instances.
     
  20. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Sorry, but that's complete nonsense. If a clause is introduced by "because", it's no longer an independent clause. I think you're making the mistake of thinking a dependent clause couldn't stand alone. Adverbial dependent clauses -- and it's one of those we have here -- usually could stand alone, but they're dependent nevertheless. Look at section 8.15.2 of the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English. What we have here is one independent clause and one dependent clause subordinated by the word "because".
     
  21. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Your last point is true, but what we were actually saying is that if you leave off the 'because' as I did in my example, it then becomes an independent clause. So, two independent clauses, then.
    By its very name and nature, a dependent clause always needs to be supported by another--main--clause to prevent it being a fragment, although fragments do exist in creative writing.
     
  22. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    No, that is not the case. From the Longman Student Grammar which I quoted, "There's a term and a half left before he moves in." "Before he moves in" is a dependent clause but "He moves in" is not a fragment. Similarly, "They believe that the minimum wage could threaten their jobs." "That the minimum wage could threaten their jobs" is a dependent clause but "The minimum wage could threaten their jobs" is not a fragment. It's only true that dependent clauses always need to be supported by a main clause in the sense that if they're not they cease to be dependent clauses. It's not true that they would always be fragments. That's only true of what are called non-finite dependent clauses, and not all dependent clauses are non-finite. The examples I give above and the sentence under discussion in this thread all contain finite dependent clauses that would not be fragments in isolation.

    Wikipedia propagates the myth that "[d]ependent clauses cannot stand alone as a sentence" [sic] but goes on to give examples such as "No one understands why experience is something you don't get until just after you need it", and "Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it" plainly can stand alone as a sentence.
     
  23. N@asha
    Offline

    N@asha Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    3
    I totally agree and know the 'rules' both in the UK and US are basically:

    (independant clause)(no comma)(subordinate clause)
    (subordinate clause)(comma)(independant clause)

    When a subordinate clause starts with a relative pronoun:

    (independant clause)(no comma)(essential relative clause)
    (non-essential relative clause)(comma)(independant clause)

    I'm also aware that a comma would be placed before subordinate conjunctions presenting a contrast or to clarify meaning.

    However, I am struggling to justify the comma usage in the original sentence:

    Always yield to temptation, because it may may not pass by your way again.

    Am I just being insanely thick? :D
     
  24. N@asha
    Offline

    N@asha Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    3

    Not all dependant clauses would be fragments in isolation, agreed, if you remove the subordinating conjunction. If you do this you transform the dependant clause into an independant clause.

    But by the very act of attaching a subordinating conjunction to an independant clause you make the clause dependant.

    And if you have a dependant clause you always need a main clause.

    Edit: In your above example about experience it is the 'why' that makes the clause dependant and therefore the sentence would be a fragment without the main clause.
     
  25. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    But that isn't saying anything useful. A coordinated clause wouldn't be a complete sentence if you left the coordinator attached. "I boiled the kettle and made a cup of tea" -> "And made a cup of tea", which is not a complete sentence.
    Yes, just as you would if you attached it to a non-finite clause or some other suitable clause. "Dependent clause" tells you about the function of the clause in that particular sentence, not some property of the clause in isolation.
     

Share This Page