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evangaline
10-19-2012, 11:30 PM
I have a question about commas and coordinating conjunctions. This is the sentence:
He picked up his latest issue of Art Digest and willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, strolled to the sofa, emotional armor in place.
Should there be a comma after and or before? I personally think it should go after. If "willing himself to project an air of nonchalance" were removed, the sentence would still make sense.
I've read various opinions on this. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Fallen
10-19-2012, 11:48 PM
After:

He picked up his latest issue of Art Digest and, willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, strolled to the sofa, emotional armor in place.

:)

evangaline
10-19-2012, 11:58 PM
Oh, thanks so much for your quick reply!

F.E.
10-20-2012, 02:12 AM
I have a question about commas and coordinating conjunctions. This is the sentence:

He picked up his latest issue of Art Digest and willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, strolled to the sofa, emotional armor in place.
Should there be a comma after and or before? I personally think it should go after. If "willing himself to project an air of nonchalance" were removed, the sentence would still make sense.
I've read various opinions on this. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
My two cents, :)

If I had a sentence structured somewhat similar to yours, I would probably punctuate it like this:


He picked up his latest issue of Art Digest, and willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, strolled to the sofa, his emotional armor in place.



If this had been the Grammar and Syntax forum, then I might go into more depth and explain my reasoning, which might include stuff about native English speakers seemingly preferring to parse their sentences at the VP level, and about stuff concerning how some aspiring writers wanting to, unfortunately, treat English as if it were a logical programming language, etc.

Er, wait. This is the Grammar and Syntax forum, ain't it? ... Hmm. Gotta run. :D

Kevin Nelson
10-20-2012, 01:27 PM
I agree with Fallen's answer. But if you don't mind a little extra advice, my suggestion would be to split the sentence in two. Personally, I would rework it to something like the following:

He picked up the latest issue of Art Digest and willed himself to project an air of nonchalance. With his emotional armor in place, he strolled to the sofa.

evangaline
10-20-2012, 04:46 PM
:) I actually did split it into two sentences after I asked the question. Something seemed off with the original one. But I was still curious about the punctuation for future reference in case I wrote myself into a quandary again. Thanks for your help!

ArtsyAmy
10-20-2012, 05:23 PM
I agree that the comma should go after "and."

He picked up his latest issue of Art Digest and, willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, strolled to the sofa, emotional armor in place.

If you strip the sentence down to subject and compound verb (and keep the "and" needed to connect the compound verb), the sentence is "He picked and strolled."

He picked up his latest issue of Art Digest and, willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, strolled to the sofa, emotional armor in place.

The "and" is connecting the two verbs, so it needs to be outside of the "parenthetical" part, rather than being included in the "parenthetical" part--the comma needs to go after "and."

I also agree about adding "his" before "emotional." Although I don't think a reader would likely think you meant the sofa had emotional armor, it could still sound awkward if you say "the sofa, emotional armor in place. Better to change to "...the sofa, his emotional armor in place." Makes it perfectly clear that the armor was his, not the sofa's. :)

He picked up his latest issue of Art Digest and, willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, strolled to the sofa, his emotional armor in place.

F.E.
10-21-2012, 09:07 AM
I vote for what that F.E. guy said. :D

That ought to even stuff up a bit, I'd think. (It being a democracy and all, maybe.)

F.E.
10-21-2012, 09:10 AM
It see what types of punctuation seems to be more natural, or er, "standard", maybe check out the types of publications that you're kinda writing in or for. :)

For instance, if you're writing fiction, such as novels, then check out some of your favorite novels (that had been written recently) in the genre that you are currently writing your prose for.

F.E.
10-21-2012, 09:21 AM
For instance, here's some examples from Robert R. McCammon's Mystery Walk (since I'm sorta partial to horror genre):

Page 219: He looked up toward the house, and started to scream for help.
Page 225: Jimmy Jed Falconer had been dead for two days, and was going to be buried in the morning.
There's that tendency to seemingly help the reader parse the sentence at a VP level, maybe.

And oh, here's some examples of the use of "suddenly":

Page 221: Suddenly he realized his left arm was tingling.
Page 221: Suddenly, the blueberry pie tasted like ashes.
Oh, wait. Wrong thread. Sorry. :D

F.E.
10-22-2012, 09:08 PM
Parenthetical Elements/Coordinating Conjunctions
The conventions of punctuation are different when the phrases are parenthetical versus supplementary (or nonrestrictive). :)

Parenthetical expressions use punctuation to delimit the interpolation information from the rest of the clause or sentence.

1. Am I late, do you think? -- parenthetical
2. She is, I think, quite pretty. -- parenthetical
With a parenthetical phrase, the punctuation delimits the boundaries of that phrase. And the whole phrase can be deleted with ease with almost no tweaking of the remainder of the sentence.
.
In the OP's example:


He picked up his latest issue of Art Digest and willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, strolled to the sofa, emotional armor in place.

the phrase we're interested in is more like supplementary information (or seen as a non-restrictive modifier). It could easily be seen in stuff like the below, which use supplementary phrases:

A. Willing himself to project an air of nonchalance, he strolled to the sofa, his emotional armor in place.
B. The old man, worrying about the late bus, began to tap his cane on the floor.

.
The punctuation conventions are different between parenthetical and supplementary phrases. (Though there is often a lot in common.) You don't want to analyze supplementary phrases within the confines attached to parenthetical phrases.

F.E.
10-22-2012, 09:52 PM
Punctuation: For instance, there is a convention in modern fiction of tending to prefer not to let a comma separate a leading conjunction from the rest of a sentence, more or less. E.g.

1A. And, finally, he left. (seen in older fiction)
1B. And finally, he left. (more typically seen in modern fiction)
And similar to that is a modern fiction convention of tending to prefer not to let a conjunction be an "island" due to punctuation, e.g.

2A. She slammed the door shut, and, after five minutes, she creaked the door open and peeked inside. (older fiction)
2B. She slammed the door shut, and after five minutes, she creaked the door open and peeked inside. (modern fiction)
Of course, these are my impressions of the stuff that I've read and read about. (And of course, there are the various different punctuation styles of heavy and light, and the ranges in between.) You'll probably want to trust what you've seen in the types of fiction that you are reading, and thus, your opinions might differ from mine. :)

(Aside: nonfiction, such as textbooks, have their own punctuation conventions--punctuation conventions that often produce ungrammatical sentences. Which would be a hoot considering that the book might be a reference grammar, except I gotta parse the authors' intended meaning from their ungrammatical and/or ambiguous sentences.)

(Edited-to-add: Yes, yes, my usage of "creaked" might be stretching its meaning found in your dictionary.)

asroc
10-22-2012, 10:30 PM
I remember being taught that the sentence still has to make sense without the parenthetical element. If the comma were to go before "and," "and" would belong to the parenthetical and the sentence would not make sense anymore if you took the interrupter out. But I’m pretty sure the "and" belongs to "strolled to the sofa," so the comma should come afterit.

So, based on my shaky recollection of elementary school grammar, I agree with Fallen (and Kevin and Amy).

F.E.
10-23-2012, 02:16 AM
If the "info" is truly parenthetical, and the writer wants to truly emphasize that, then, the writer could possibly use parentheses to make that info parenthesized. E.g.

1. It seems that (not surprisingly) she rejected his offer.
The type of info, whether it is truly parenthetical or whether it is more like supplementary info, or perhaps as non-restrictive modifier, then, that could start getting in a gray area. Maybe. For instance, em dashes are often used for those types of info, through that gray range. E.g.

2. There's a difference over goals, but the end -- namely freedom -- is the same.
3. The book -- and the movie -- were strongly condemned by the Legion of Decency.
All three of those examples are taken from the reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., CGEL, pages 1748 and 1750. That example #3 is interesting, imo, because the verb is the plural "were" and not the singular "was". :)

So, one of the issues is to figure out what type of phrase that was in the OP's first post; and then treat it accordingly.

F.E.
10-23-2012, 04:33 AM
Since this thread is sorta about commas, :)

In Noah Lukeman's book, The First Five Pages, on page 11 are two interesting examples of comma usage:

1. There is no guarantee that you will come to this realization, but if you do, at least it will be your own.
2. Because ultimately, the only person who can teach you about writing is yourself.

Notice that for #1, that you can't merely delete the phrase between the commas. Note also that there is no comma after the word "but". Notice that for #2, there is no comma after the word "Because". (This might be useful info, which might be related to the OP's first post.)

Of course, this type of punctuation might fall more under the category of "style".