SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Commas

Discussion started on

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ksmo
Hello, Grammar People,

So, you know you're to add a comma between two independent clauses (with a coordinating conjunction between them), right? For instance: I went to the store, and then I drove home. But what if there's a (you) understood subject in each clause, like: Pack up your bags, and run to the mall? Then is the comma correct? Or is it not correct because you're simply joining two verb phrases--"pack..." and "run..." and each phrase is dependent, rather than independent, because the (you) understood isn't really a subject? I thought I was solid on this stuff.  :slaphead
#1 - March 25, 2016, 06:50 PM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

Well, there is a subtle difference between your two examples that makes a difference in whether or not there should be a comma. Basically, you don't want to separate a verb from its subject. In the first example, there is a "then" indicating a time difference and another "I" as a subject. It's an independent clause that is its own diagramable sentence. In the second example, the "you" is understood, but is the single subject of both phrases. (You) pack up your bags and run to the mall. If you were diagraming this sentence, you would use a bracket on the verbs, connecting them with an "and" rather than diagraming a whole other sentence. If that helps you see when a verb is part of a dependent clause or independent clause.
#2 - March 25, 2016, 07:49 PM

If it's assumed that it's two parts of one action, "Pack up your bags and run to the mall", without commas, is correct.

If it's three ("Pack up your bags, lace your running shoes and run to the mall"), commas are necessary on all but the last two joined by "And", and if it's two unrelated things in a list--"Run to the mall, and remember to pick up my laundry on the way back"--commas also separate them.

Remember the old saying about "My hobbies are cooking my children and my pets"--It's a question of what clauses need to be separated.
#3 - March 25, 2016, 07:59 PM
Know the movies.  Show the movies.  Start the revolution:
http://movieactivist.blogspot.com

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
Check out compound predicate.
#4 - March 26, 2016, 06:08 AM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ksmo
Thank you. You're both confirming what I thought was correct: that a comma isn't necessary in my second example.

EricJ, I take a bit of exception to your example: "Pack up you bags, lace your running shoes and run to the mall." I'd add a second comma in the series--the Oxford comma--before the "and," but that's neither here nor there, in terms of my initial question.  ;)

Thanks again!
#5 - March 26, 2016, 06:18 AM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Moderator
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
To confuse matters further, Chicago states that the commas aren't necessary between independent clauses if the clauses are short enough, closely related, and there won't be any confusion. http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/16/ch06/ch06_sec028.html?sessionId=d36636ae-97e8-4d10-a198-ba09df899636

This link also answers the question about the understood subject, you.
#6 - March 27, 2016, 08:38 PM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
Not confusing means an author's judging reading expectations. It's easy for me to include the conjunctive comma to avoid confusing even a single reader. Otherwise, it's time spent thinking about deviating from standard punctuation and possibly causing confusion.

Chicago's advice sounds something like, fastening your seatbelt is not necessary if the distance between stores is short enough and there won't be an accident.

#7 - March 27, 2016, 09:14 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ksmo
Lol, Spence. I couldn't open the link, unless I signed up for a membership, but I'd have liked to see the example. Thanks, everyone.
#8 - March 27, 2016, 09:27 PM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Moderator
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
She died and he cried.

This is a place where Chicago might not use the comma. The two phrases are so short and so tightly connected, there can be no confusion. The pause might not feel natural. The author could put the comma in to slow the reader for emotional effect, but it's author's choice.
#9 - April 04, 2016, 06:22 AM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
Funny that, "she died; he cried" seems even tighter, despite the period-like semicolon.
#10 - April 04, 2016, 07:27 AM

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region ireland
Personally, I would never add a comma following "and", but that's just the way I was taught.
#11 - April 04, 2016, 08:31 AM

Funny that, "she died; he cried" seems even tighter, despite the period-like semicolon.

This might be a way to tell if something is an independent clause or not--can you substitute a semicolon and have it make sense? ::-)
#12 - April 04, 2016, 11:30 AM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ksmo
Yep, independent clauses need to have a subject and a verb.
#13 - April 04, 2016, 12:39 PM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
New!
I think the ", and" construction works best if the clauses are not too independent, as for example those in a family trip to a store below.

She took the kids in tow and headed off with a shopping cart, and he, trying to remember what time the game started, idly perused the magazines.

I also read somewhere that a series of items separated by commas should be related and structured to be grammatically similar to each other to avoid a "1, 2, 3, and d" situation. It should be "1, 2, and 3 and d" (despite the two and's). Otherwise place d in a separate clause or sentence.
#14 - April 04, 2016, 01:06 PM
« Last Edit: April 04, 2016, 01:08 PM by spence-blakely »

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.