1. jakeybum
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    jakeybum Member

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    Writer's choice?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jakeybum, Aug 15, 2015.

    I often see writers place the comma after the conjunction (not before it) when it separates two independent clauses—as illustrated in the first example below. I think the second example is the way to go. Is it the writer's choice to punctuate it the way it's done in the first example below? Is it totally wrong to do it this way?

    1. He was offended with her and, quite frankly, I thought he was going to do something he'd regret.

    2. He was offended with her, and quite frankly, I thought he was going to do something he'd regret.
     
  2. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ew, I don't like #1. I understand why someone would do it that way, but it gives me a headache. I don't know for sure that it's absolutely incorrect, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's not right. Though, absolute correctness doesn't always have to be a writer's utmost priority.
     
  3. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would still be valid and mean the same thing without any commas:

    "He was offended with her and quite frankly I thought he was going to do something he'd regret."

    I point this out to show that a comma in either of the three locations does not change the meaning of this sentence. The commas just signify where the reader should pause if vocalizing the sentence. Put the commas where they sound best.

    In other sentences, however, a comma might resolve syntactic ambiguity and therefore change the meaning of the sentence. I am struggling to think of an example, though.
     
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  4. jakeybum
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    jakeybum Member

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    So, really, there are no set rules here.

    Thank you both!
     
  5. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I agree with @daemon . To me, the first example reads like someone has added 'quite frankly' on the spur of the moment, almost like an interjection in their own sentence. The second reads like it's premeditated and they'd intended to say it from the get-go (although it seems a bit 'stuttery' with that many commas). Based on that, for standard narrative/prose/whatever, I'd prefer the second. For dialogue, I think either could be used for subtle characterisation.

    For daemon's sans comma example, I'd just read it however sounded best to me :)

    Those are just my perceptions though; it's also true that people construct sentences differently, so I wouldn't consider either to be incorrect.

    A (lame) example of syntactic ambiguity could be:

    He was quite frankly offended with her.

    Is 'quite frankly' the narrator's aside, or does it describe His offense? (I think with no commas, most would assume the latter, so it's not a great example).
     
  6. jakeybum
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    jakeybum Member

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    Thank you, too, Sifunkle! :)
     
  7. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    This seems like a fun potential game ... how differently can you re-write the sentence until the meaning completely changes?

    Frankly, she offended him.

    Frank offends him.

    Offended, Frank offed him.
     
  8. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Don't call me Frank.
     

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