General Writing and Grammar Help/Grammar


Although a Canadian at birth, Robert Frost moved to New England.  

The above sentence contains a comma.  Can you tell me the reason for the comma.  At first glance it looks like a subordinate clause, but a subordinate clause is suppose to have a subject and a verb even though it does not express a complete thought.  The first part of the sentence [Although a Canadian at birth] does not have a verb.  Is the first part of this sentence a dependent clause? And if so, could you please explain how that is so when it does not have a verb.

Hello Stephanie - and thanks for your question

The comma COULD be omitted in this sentence.

But at this level, it becomes a matter of personal taste.

Here's a guidance note on the use of the comma

You could put the two parts of the statement the other way round

Robert Frost moved to New England, although he was a Canadian at birth

I think the comma is necessary there

Hope that helps.

Best wishes

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Roy Johnson


I can answer questions on English language, grammar, writing skills, and study skills. I am particularly experienced in the writing skills required for academic essays, term papers, reports, dissertations, and post-graduate theses.


I have forty years experience as a tutor and as the author of books on writing and study skills. For thirty years I was a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association, which specialises in courses for adult students and preparing mature students for university. I was also a tutor for the Open University between 1975 and 2010. During that time I have also written a number of books on writing and study skills. In the last ten years or more I have specialised in creating computer-aided learning materials and online learning courses.

"Making the Grade" (Manchester University Press) 1990 "Studying Fiction" (Manchester University Press) 1991 "Marking Essays" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Revision and Examinations" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Writing Essays" (Clifton Ress) 1996 "Study Skills" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Electronic Writing" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Improve your Writing Skills" (Clifton Press) 2010 "Writing Essays 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "English Language 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "Study Skills 2.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program]

My first degree was in mechanical engineering (HNC). I then switched to literary studies and philosophy. My second degree was a BA in English and American Literature (from Manchester University - UK). I also have an MA in Comparative Literary Studies, and my doctoral thesis (PhD) was in the relationship between literature and politics.

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