To comma or not comma?

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Gregg Bell

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"them" is the mob in the sentence.

I just get hung up if the local police departments are small and ill-equipped. is an independant clause so there should be a comma after "known" or if it's part of a compound clause along with they moved out here where they’re less well known so no comma and so no comma after "known." And I'm sure the sentence could be re-written, but I'm looking to understand what this sentence might need (and maybe what the grammar rule that applies to it is). Thanks.

What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them, so they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.
 

jhe1valu

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Hi Gregg! The passage: the local police departments are small and ill-equipped. is a complete sentence in its own right and the conjunction "and" immediately preceding joins it to the initial compound sentence as a further compound sentence, so no comma is necessary after the words "well-known" to make it so.

Fun with commas, Joe
 

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"them" is the mob in the sentence.

I just get hung up if the local police departments are small and ill-equipped. is an independant clause so there should be a comma after "known" or if it's part of a compound clause along with they moved out here where they’re less well known so no comma and so no comma after "known." And I'm sure the sentence could be re-written, but I'm looking to understand what this sentence might need (and maybe what the grammar rule that applies to it is). Thanks.

What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them, so they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.
I suppose "they" and "they're" also refer to the mob, but I stopped, thinking it was the Chicago Police that moved out, which made no sense. So some clarity is missing.
 
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Brigid Barry

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What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them, so they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.
If you have to explain your pronoun, you have an unclear antecedent in your sentence that needs to be clarified. The Pronoun Game is a sin on Cinema Sins that I insist be brought into writing.

You are mashing too much into your single sentences that can (and should) be split into multiple sentences. As mentioned in your prior post about commas, it's called comma splicing. Don't do it. It's fine for a first draft but should get cleaned up in editing.
 

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Hello Gregg,
If you want to keep the whole sentence together, you can "semi-colon" your way out of this comma splice dilemma. My suggestion would be to link the independent clauses with a classic semi-colon, coordinating conjunction, comma.

What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them; so, they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.

Hope this is helpful and best wishes.
 
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jhe1valu

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Hey Gregg! One more thought before I go and leave you alone.

It's been my observation that readers enjoy simple sentences more than complex, so since your original post was attempting to append another complete sentence onto an already-compound one, why not let it stand alone, starting with Then?

BTW - in Shadow Beam's example, with a semicolon (my favorite) the so, is superfluous; anytime there is a doubt, just read everything to the right of, or following, the semicolon; if it reads correctly as a complete "stand-alone" sentence, you're good to go.

Thanks, and remember, I learned my style from James Fenimore Cooper! Joe
 

Gregg Bell

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Hi Gregg! The passage: the local police departments are small and ill-equipped. is a complete sentence in its own right and the conjunction "and" immediately preceding joins it to the initial compound sentence as a further compound sentence, so no comma is necessary after the words "well-known" to make it so.

Fun with commas, Joe
Thanks Joe but I don't understand. I thought since the local police departments are small and ill-equipped was a full sentence there should be a comma after "well-known." And what do you mean by "a further compound sentence"?
 

Gregg Bell

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I suppose "they" and "they're" also refer to the mob, but I stopped, thinking it was the Chicago Police that moved out, which made no sense. So some clarity is missing.
Thanks Elaine. Hopefully the broader context makes it clear.

But be careful. White Pines may seem like a sleepy suburb, and for the most part it is, but that’s deceiving because organized crime in Chicago, or “the Outfit” as it’s known, has moved into the burbs. What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them, so they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped. So yes, be careful.
 

Gregg Bell

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If you have to explain your pronoun, you have an unclear antecedent in your sentence that needs to be clarified. The Pronoun Game is a sin on Cinema Sins that I insist be brought into writing.

You are mashing too much into your single sentences that can (and should) be split into multiple sentences. As mentioned in your prior post about commas, it's called comma splicing. Don't do it. It's fine for a first draft but should get cleaned up in editing.
Thanks Brigid. But where is the comma splice?

And here's the complete paragraph.

But be careful. White Pines may seem like a sleepy suburb, and for the most part it is, but that’s deceiving because organized crime in Chicago, or “the Outfit” as it’s known, has moved into the burbs. What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them, so they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped. So yes, be careful.
 

Gregg Bell

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Hello Gregg,
If you want to keep the whole sentence together, you can "semi-colon" your way out of this comma splice dilemma. My suggestion would be to link the independent clauses with a classic semi-colon, coordinating conjunction, comma.

What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them; so, they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.

Hope this is helpful and best wishes.
Hello Shadow. Thank you but semi colons have always been over my head. (I'm sure you've used it expertly yourself.)
 
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Gregg Bell

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Hey Gregg! One more thought before I go and leave you alone.

It's been my observation that readers enjoy simple sentences more than complex, so since your original post was attempting to append another complete sentence onto an already-compound one, why not let it stand alone, starting with Then?

BTW - in Shadow Beam's example, with a semicolon (my favorite) the so, is superfluous; anytime there is a doubt, just read everything to the right of, or following, the semicolon; if it reads correctly as a complete "stand-alone" sentence, you're good to go.

Thanks, and remember, I learned my style from James Fenimore Cooper! Joe
Thanks Joe.

It's been my observation that readers enjoy simple sentences more than complex
Did you perhaps mean "long" or "complicated" instead of "complex"?

why not let it stand alone, starting with Then?
Can you show me what you're talking about?

I think I'm missing something fundamental about punctuation. Yes, the sentence is complete at "well-known," but it's not some egregious full-page sentence with endless independant clauses.

My vibe is not to have a comma after "well-known" but my (relatively faulty it seems) inner grammarian says since the local police departments are small and ill-equipped is a full sentence there should be a comma after "well-known."

PS. Calling out to the ghost of James Fenimore Cooper for help!

 

jhe1valu

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Thanks Joe.


Did you perhaps mean "long" or "complicated" instead of "complex"?


Can you show me what you're talking about?

I think I'm missing something fundamental about punctuation. Yes, the sentence is complete at "well-known," but it's not some egregious full-page sentence with endless independant clauses.

My vibe is not to have a comma after "well-known" but my (relatively faulty it seems) inner grammarian says since the local police departments are small and ill-equipped is a full sentence there should be a comma after "well-known."

PS. Calling out to the ghost of James Fenimore Cooper for help!
 

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But be careful. White Pines may seem like a sleepy suburb, and for the most part it is, but that’s deceiving because organized crime in Chicago, or “the Outfit” as it’s known, has moved into the burbs. What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them, so they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped. So yes, be careful.
* "but that's deceiving" is probably intended to refer to "may seem like a sleepy suburb," but its antecedent, the thing that comes bfeore and referred to by "but that's deceiving" is the next statement "for the most part it is."

I'd kill "What's happened is" entirely. It isn't doing anything.
 

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Thanks Joe.


Did you perhaps mean "long" or "complicated" instead of "complex"?


Can you show me what you're talking about?

I think I'm missing something fundamental about punctuation. Yes, the sentence is complete at "well-known," but it's not some egregious full-page sentence with endless independant clauses.

My vibe is not to have a comma after "well-known" but my (relatively faulty it seems) inner grammarian says since the local police departments are small and ill-equipped is a full sentence there should be a comma after "well-known."

PS. Calling out to the ghost of James Fenimore Cooper for help!
Hey Gregg! Yes, simple (declarative) sentences as an alternative to complex (compound or compound/complex with dependent clauses, etc.) were what I was speaking of when I wrote "complex" , I'm sorry for the confusion caused by my poor choice of words there.

By and large, to construct a compound sentence which contains three complete sentences, as your original post did, can make it cumbersome sometimes for even the best reader to follow. You might just pick the points you want to make in each sentence and let them stand alone.

It's your story; tell it as you will; let your editor deal with your commas and semicolons; they'll fix them. Joe
 

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I suppose "they" and "they're" also refer to the mob, but I stopped, thinking it was the Chicago Police that moved out, which made no sense. So some clarity is missing.
This is an interesting point; anytime you have two nouns in a sentence what is your go-to method for making sure the reader does not get confused? Personally, I will repeat one of the proper nouns in a later clause (see example below), but I've been curious to know how other writers handle this issue.

Example:

What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them, so the mob moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.
 
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Gregg

You have a pattern of errors, based on the two threads in this forum. You need to get a basic grammer reference, like the handbooks used for freshman comp classes. Diane Hacker has written many of them. There are other good ones too. Get a used one; they don't change much from year to year.

Read about vague pronoun references and comma splices, in particular. While there are a lot of discussions of both of these online, there's also a lot that, well, it's wrong.

Just remember when you are writing that most people do not necessarily speak grammatically perfectly, all the time, particularly in terms of usage/style rules.
 

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What’s happened is, through the years, the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them, so they moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.
I am sure that this sentence is within a paragraph that gives context to the situation being presented, but, on it's own, there are a few things that would be beneficial to change.

In my opinion, your sentence is wordy. I suggest omitting "What’s happened is, through the years" and replacing it with "since." The comma will fall after "the mob" where there is a natural pause. Here's what I mean:
Since the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them,
If you feel that the phrase "through the years" is an important aspect of the sentence. I suggest placing it after "them" and before the comma since the new natural pause will be after the phrase.
Since the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them throughout the years,
With the sentence starting with "since," your original "so" is no longer needed.

As Brigid Barry said, it is a bad thing if you have to explain a pronoun, best if you just replace one of your pronouns with your antecedent, the mob. Though, which one, "they" or "them?" It might take a second for the reader to understand which party is being referenced to if you replace "them." This is because there will be two possible antecedents, "the Chicago Police Department" and "the mob," within the first section of the sentence. If you replace "they," the reader can more easily infer that "them" and "they're" are the mob because there will be a question of who "them" is in the first section and the mob will be the only antecedent in the second section for "they're."

Since the word "here" is non-specific, if you have yet to introduce the location, you can include it within the sentence using two commas. The commas act as an information section, separating the delivery of the information. There is a pause before the information and a pause afterward to get back into the original sentence. Here are the finished options:
Since the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them throughout the years, the mob moved out here where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.
Since the Chicago Police Department has gotten better at dealing with them throughout the years, the mob moved out here, in Dekalb, where they’re less well known and the local police departments are small and ill-equipped.
 
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Gregg Bell

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Gregg

You have a pattern of errors, based on the two threads in this forum. You need to get a basic grammer reference, like the handbooks used for freshman comp classes. Diane Hacker has written many of them. There are other good ones too. Get a used one; they don't change much from year to year.

Read about vague pronoun references and comma splices, in particular. While there are a lot of discussions of both of these online, there's also a lot that, well, it's wrong.

Just remember when you are writing that most people do not necessarily speak grammatically perfectly, all the time, particularly in terms of usage/style rules.
Thanks Herder. I looked at Hacker's books. She has so many. Can you point out one in particular that would be good?
 

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Thanks Herder. I looked at Hacker's books. She has so many. Can you point out one in particular that would be good?
The Handbooks, by Hacker or the ones from other textbook publishers are pretty much the same. I mostly used A Writer's Reference because students could find used copies cheaply. Many people also really like The Little Brown Handbook. If you have a used bookstore or college textbook store near you, I
would go look.
 
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Gregg Bell

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The Handbooks, by Hacker or the ones from other textbook publishers are pretty much the same. I mostly used A Writer's Reference because students could find used copies cheaply. Many people also really like The Little Brown Handbook. If you have a used bookstore or college textbook store near you, I
would go look.
Thank you!