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Thread: Differentiating between "And"

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  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    Differentiating between "And"

    One grammar thing I have trouble with is when to use a comma after "And."
    I don't know the rule. I know you put it when listing things (I went to school, the library, and later to the nightclub). How about two sentences like these:


    I put down the tray and ran to the door.
    Waverly got upset and I didn't know what to do.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW unthoughtknown's Avatar
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    Well, I'd say that both sentences don't require a comma...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mesh138
    One grammar thing I have trouble with is when to use a comma after "And"
    I guess you meant before "and".

    In your first example: "I put down the tray and ran to the door"
    it's not necessary, because only the first clause is independent.


    Your second example is an interesting (and potentially confusing) one, because in this case the comma is optional:

    "Waverly got upset, and I didn't know what to do."
    is correct, because the two clauses are independent -- that is, each can stand alone, as in: "Waverly got upset. I didn't know what to do."

    But equally, "Waverly got upset and I didn't know what to do." is fine, because the clauses are short.

    How long do independent clauses need to be before the comma ceases to be optional? Ah, well, there's a question. That appears to be a matter for writerly judgement, if not plain old common sense, in which faithfully representing the desired rhythm is a guiding principle.
    Last edited by pianoman5; 02-25-2006 at 06:21 AM. Reason: typo

  4. #4
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman5
    But equally, "Waverly got upset and I didn't know what to do." is fine, because the clauses are short.

    How long do independent clauses need to be before the comma ceases to be optional? Ah, well, there's a question. That appears to be a matter for writerly judgement, if not plain old common sense, in which faithfully representing the desired rhythm is a guiding principle.
    I didn't know this was an option.
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  5. #5
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    Two answers for the price of one

    Quote Originally Posted by mesh138
    I went to school, the library, and later to the nightclub.
    Pianoman took care of your question. Here's another one: is the sample sentence above correctly constructed? Answer: no.

    I went to
    school
    the library
    later to the nightclub

    "School" is a noun. "The library" is a noun with an article. So far, so good. But "to the nightclub" isn't a noun. It's a prepositional phrase. Not to get too technical, I hope, but the important thing isn't to have them all nouns or not; it's to have them all substantives or not. Nouns are substantives, and so are some other things.

    This is correct: "I went to school, to the library, and later to the nightclub."

    This is also correct: "I went to school, the library, and later the nightclub."

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW (grasshopper)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reph
    Pianoman took care of your question. Here's another one: is the sample sentence above correctly constructed? Answer: no.
    Ah yes, reph, you picked up on that, too.

    I think part of the mechanism involved here is parallelism.

    For example it would be okay to say:

    I went to the school, to the library, and later to the nightclub.

    But if you ellipse the preposition in one of the succeeding phrases, then you should ellipse it in all of them (just to keep things parallel).

    I went to the school, (to) the library, and later (to) the nightclub.

    I'm not sure but I think this is more a matter of aesthetics, rather than a rule.

  7. #7
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    Right, it's parallelism

    It's a rule. A failure of parallelism is a fault in the grammar of the sentence. People need to return to diagramming sentences.

  8. #8
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    comma

    Quote Originally Posted by mesh138
    One grammar thing I have trouble with is when to use a comma after "And."
    I don't know the rule. I know you put it when listing things (I went to school, the library, and later to the nightclub). How about two sentences like these:


    I put down the tray and ran to the door.
    Waverly got upset and I didn't know what to do.
    No comma in the first. Definitely a comma in the second.

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW (grasshopper)'s Avatar
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    So it is a rule. Thank you. I should have checked.

    Yes, I'd love to see the return of sentence diagramming in school. You know, when I was trying to find reference books on diagramming, I called my local grammar school to see if they had any books on the subject. They didn't, of course, and the concept was so foreign to them that they had trouble understanding what I wanted at first.

    I had to laugh at the irony when I hung up. It was a grammar school for heaven's sake!

  10. #10
    Esteemed New Member sacredmime's Avatar
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    Yes, grasshopper, I had the same problem when I had chemistry questions in my elementary school . Or when I had substance abuse questions for my high school counselor. (ugh, sorry about that

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW (grasshopper)'s Avatar
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    I'm sorry, sacredmime. I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean.

  12. #12
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    (g'hopper), s'mime was punning.

    chemistry . . . elementary school

    substance abuse . . . high school

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW (grasshopper)'s Avatar
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    Hang on a minute. . . .

    Chemistry questions in an elementary school . . .
    Abuse problems for a counselor . . .

    (Bing) the little light just went on.

    Good one.

    You deserve a rep point for that!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by (grasshopper)
    Yes, I'd love to see the return of sentence diagramming in school. You know, when I was trying to find reference books on diagramming, I called my local grammar school to see if they had any books on the subject. They didn't, of course, and the concept was so foreign to them that they had trouble understanding what I wanted at first.
    I latched on a treasure trove of Grammar books from the early 1920s and 30s off eBay, which covered all the diagramming and odd grammar concepts that I never saw in school. I absolutely love them, and I can diagram a sentence with the best of them.
    To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser.--R. Davies

  15. #15
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    Excuse me, but I may be reading this the wrong way.

    One grammar thing I have trouble with is when to use a comma after "And."

    All of the answers refer to a comma before "and", yes?

    "Today I went to the zoo and, ignoring the rain, I walked around for hours."

    I was taught at school that any clause, in the middle of a sentence, that could be taken out and still have the sentence make sense should be offset by commas.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmy
    All of the answers refer to a comma before "and", yes?
    Yes. See post #3.

  17. #17
    get thee behind me, satin SuperModerator poetinahat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmy
    Excuse me, but I may be reading this the wrong way.

    One grammar thing I have trouble with is when to use a comma after "And."

    All of the answers refer to a comma before "and", yes?

    "Today I went to the zoo and, ignoring the rain, I walked around for hours."

    I was taught at school that any clause, in the middle of a sentence, that could be taken out and still have the sentence make sense should be offset by commas.
    Based on the earlier discussion, there is also an optional comma between "zoo" and "and". Personally, I like having it there.

    The comma after the and is a different proposition altogether; it's not mutually exclusive with this optional comma.

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