General Writing and Grammar Help/Question about comma

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QUESTION: People seem to place comma every where they think that the sentence is experiencing a slight pause. Is the comma placed everywhere when the sentence seems to pause? For example, lets take a look at the following sentence:-


1) However, with the passage of time, you will learn it.

2) However, with the passage of time you will learn it.

In the first sentence, there is a comma after "time". There seems to be a slight pause in the sentence after "time". Is the comma here optional?

Which one is correct?

ANSWER: I am sorry for this tardy response.  There is a glitch at AllExperts, and I did not know your question was here.  This has happened before, but I do apologize.  mb

~~

In this sentence, the comma emphasizes the that you will not learn it immediately.  It will take time to learn it.  The writer wants to make sure you know not to give up.

Without the comma, there is no such help.  There's just a statement of fact without any amplification.

~~

I'm nitpicking here, but you left the apostrophe out of =let's=.

~~

I am not nitpicking here: never start a sentence with =however=.  Using this word implies there is a comparison *in the same sentence.*

If you want to use =however=, you must place it in the middle of the sentence or at the end:

With the passage of time, however, you will learn it.
You will learn it with the passage of time, however.

Notice in the first sentence, you need commas both before and after =however=.

~~

I agree that there is a problem of converting "speech rhythms" to written form.

One way people are doing it is with a comma.  Usually, however [not the beginning of the sentence!], people put two sentences together, joined by a comma.  This is wrong!!  (The formal term is "comma splice.")

A better way is to use a period and make two sentences:

wrong:  She came with chocolate chip cookies, I love them!
right:  She came with chocolate chip cooks.  I love them!

Another way is to use a semi-colon.  

right:  She came with chocolate chip cookies; I love them!

Using two sentences is better, in my opinion, and easier to remember how to do.

Using a comma for a pause can be used only in a single sentence:

Listening for her footfalls, they heard her approach with the chocolate chip cookies.

~~

As long as I'm on a rant (and please feel free to pass these along to people who need to know the gross error they are making!):

1.  =Anyways= is not a word.  It's =anyway=.

2.  Acronyms and year numbers are pluralized with plain =S=, not with ='S=.

wrong:  The TV's are on sale.
right: The TVs are on sale.

wrong:  This happened in the 90's.
right:  This happened in the '90s.

(Note also the apostrophe because =19= has been excised:  ='90= is a contraction.)

3.  =Myself= is something you do to you own person.  It is not a "fancy" and "well-educated" substitute for =I= or =me=.  It is too bad that you hear people like newscasters making this error!  People hear it [often], assume a public news-teller is educated or else wouldn't be sitting at a news anchor desk, and think that usage must be correct!

wrong:  I was angry for forgetting the chocolate chip cookies for her and myself.
also wrong:  I was angry for forgetting the chocolate chip cookies for her and I.
right:  I was angry for forgetting the chocolate chip cookies for her and me.
better: I was angry for forgetting the chocolate chip cookies for us.

=Her and me= is the object of the preposition =for=.
wrong:  I will do something for she.
right: I will do something for her.

The first example is so obviously wrong when put in that sentence order.  People become confused when it's at the end of the sentence!  So do watch out for those objects of prepositions!  

Getting down from my soapbox now!
mb

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hey Martha,

Thanks for your answer. It was comprehensive. I don't know whether you respond to follow-ups. Actually, the sentences I mentioned in my question were continuation of another sentence. For example,

"Johnson was not present in the class. However, no one questioned him."

I didn't mention the real sentence, and It was my mistake. The actual complete sentence was:-

"You are not so good at bowling. However, with the passage of time, you will learn it."

Is it correct?

I've seen many writers starting a new sentence with "however" when they want to make a contradictory or opposite statement. Can you clarify this?


In the above sentence, Another sentence started with "However".

If a sentence has stopped with a full stop, then can we start another sentence with "However"? I found many people starting another sentence with "however" many times.

Secondly, you said in your answer that a semicolon can be used to connect two different independent sentences. But the comma before "and" in a sentence can be a bit confusing. A comma before "and" is considered when two independent sentences are joined. Can you explain this? How can a person identify an "independent sentence". Please correct me if I am wrong. For example, let's take a look at these sentences:-

1) Trying to repair the machine on your own could actually cause more trouble, and could cost you extra dollars.

2) He was stealing from the garage, and you looked the other way.

3) She loved him to death, and therefore, she married him.

4) He was given medication for his disease, but he is still suffering.

I strongly believe that there is something wrong with some of the above sentences.

Thanks.

ANSWER: Yes, I answer follow-ups.  What I don't do is worry about rankings.  I'm here to help, not gather "points."

~~

In your bowling question, this is still incorrect.  

It is assumed that the first sentence is related to the second sentence.  Otherwise, there would be no need for a comparison (and the comparison is indicated by =however=).

This first sentence does not imply any comparison to the second.
I am eating chocolate.  High buildings require specialized engineering.

~~

What's important in your example is that the second sentence is starting with =however=.  It doesn't matter what the previous sentence is.  We would expect it to be related, however.  (Notice placement of =however=!)**

Either (1) join the sentences with =[comma] however [comma]=; or (2) or move =however= to the end of the second sentence, using a comma before it; (3) put =however= (with commas before and after) in the middle of the second sentence.

Do NOT join the two sentences with a semi-colon because you have =however= starting the second sentence.  This is the same situation as if you had two separate sentences, each ending with a period.

Incorrect:  
He is having trouble bowling. However, with practice he will learn it.
He is having trouble bowling; however, with practice he will learn it.

Correct:
He is having trouble bowling.  With practice he will learn it, however.
He is having trouble bowling.  With practice, however, he will learn it.

~~

Yes, you do hear people taking a breath between sentences; or dropping the voice to a lower sound after the first.

BUT....

You cannot write this way.

This having been said, if you are writing a novel and one of your characters is speaking this, the situation is different.  Let's not cloud the issue, ok?!

~~

4) He was given medication for his disease, but he is still suffering.

This is correct.  You have a subject in each.  The skeleton is:
He was given, but he is suffering.
Therefore, you join these with a comma and a conjunction (=but=).

YOU ALSO could omit the conjunction and substitute a semi-colon here.
He was given; he is suffering.

2) This is also correct.
He was stealing, but you looked.
He was stealing; you looked.

3) This is correct, but you need a comma to set off =therefore=, as well as after it.
She loved him to death, and, therefore, she married him.

Yes, I know there are a lot of commas close to each other.  If this bothers you:
She loved him to death, and she married him, therefore. [very clumsy!]

Better:
She loved him to death, so she married him.
Because she loved him to death, she married him.
She married him because she loved him to death.

I have replaced =therefore= with =so= and =because=.  Or, I have rearranged the words, making the second half of the sentence into a dependent clause.

Notice that =therefore= and =however= must be treated in the same way (commas before and after) when used in the middle of a sentence.

~~

1) This one is wrong.  =Trying to repair= is the subject of both halves (both clauses).  Here's the skeleton:
Trying to repair could cause, and trying to repair could cost.

If you want to shorten the sentence, use:
Trying to repair could cause and could cost.

Otherwise, you'd need to use:
Trying to repair could cause, and trying to repair could cost. [above]

You would not use:
Trying to repair could cause, and could cost. [This is your example.]
This is because the comma tells the reader another complete sentence (or a complete clause) will follow. =And could cost= does not have a subject, so the reader is wondering specifically what it is that "could cost."

In long sentences, it is sometimes confusing whether the subject of the first clause is also the subject of the second one. This is the problem with the example.  It is never incorrect to break a long sentence into two shorter ones.
Example:
Trying to repair could cause.  Trying to repair could cost.

mb
~~

**

It doesn't matter what the previous sentence is.  We would expect it to be related, however.  
It doesn't matter what the previous sentence is, however, we would expect it to be related.It doesn't matter what the previous sentence is; we would expect, however, it to be related.[correct but clumsy because the clause is short]
It doesn't matter what the previous sentence is; we would expect, however, it to be related.
[also correct but clumsy]
It doesn't matter what the previous sentence is, but we would expect it to be related.





---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi,

You said in your previous answer that "however" should not be written when a sentence begins. For example, you stated that the following sentences are incorrect:-

He is having trouble bowling. However, with practice he will learn it.
He is having trouble bowling; however, with practice he will learn it.

You said that if the sentences are related in any way to each other, then a semicolon should not be used. Independent clauses are separated by semicolons, but I find many writers writing sentences which are similar to the above and starting with "however".

You can correct me if I am wrong. I found some examples from the sources below:-

http://www.grammar-monster.com/lessons/semicolons_before_transitional_phrases.ht

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/semicolons.asp

Answer
You said in your previous answer that "however" should not be written when a sentence begins.
Yes.

~~

You said that if the sentences are related in any way to each other, then a semicolon should not be used.

No, that is not correct.  I am sorry if I gave that impression.  I apologize.  Thank you for letting me know I was unclear or wrote conflicting information.  

The sentences SHOULD be related if you are using =however= because =however= implies there is a relationship between the two sentences.

In your bowling sentences, you are speaking of his inability to bowl well and that with practice he will improve.  In my example sentences, I spoke of chocolate and engineering; those are unrelated sentences because the first sentence does not imply any comparison to the second one because they are about two different things:
I am eating chocolate.  High buildings require specialized engineering.

Now, suppose I inserted a =however=.  People would be scratching their heads if they read:
I am eating chocolate.  High buildings require specialized engineering, however.
I am eating chocolate; high buildings require specialized engineering, however.
I am eating chocolate, however. High buildings require specialized engineering.
I am eating chocolate, however; high buildings require specialized engineering.

Here's another example:

Incorrect:
I am unable to bake cookies today.  However, I can bake cookies tomorrow.
I am unable to bake cookies today; however, I can bake cookies tomorrow.
[This is the same construction as your bowling sentence.]

No matter whether it's preceded by a period or a semi-colon, don't start the second sentence with =however=.

Correct:

I am unable to bake cookies today.  I can bake them tomorrow, however. *
I am unable to bake cookies today; I can bake them tomorrow, however. *
I am unable to bake cookies today, however.  I can bake cookies tomorrow. **
I am unable to bake cookies today, however; I can bake cookies tomorrow.  **

An aside:  Notice the nuanced differences between the * and the ** sentences.  In the * sentences, the implication is that you are doing something else today, but tomorrow you have time to bake cookies.  In the ** sentences, the implication is that you are baking other things today and don't have time to bake cookies.  You will have time in your baking schedule tomorrow for the cookies.

Also correct (but very clumsy):
I am unable, however, to bake cookies today.  I can bake cookies tomorrow.
I am unable, however, to bake cookies today; I can bake cookies tomorrow.
I am unable to bake cookies today.  I can bake cookies, however, tomorrow.
I am unable to bake cookies today; I can bake cookies, however, tomorrow.

~~

=However=  must be placed (1) in the middle of either sentence; or (2) at the end of either sentence.  

The sentences may be joined by a semi-colon OR separated with a period.  It's your choice which.  Which punctuation you choose does NOT have a bearing on where =however= is placed.

~~

All I can say about the other writers (and the websites) that say it is ok (different from "it is proper") to start a sentence with =however= is that they are wrong in terms of traditional, correct English grammar.  

I have been editing for many years, having "interned" at a major university reading doctoral dissertations.  I assure you that 100% proper traditional grammar is demanded in a dissertation!  If I missed an error, you can bet I heard about it!!  The chief editor had no interest in reading my edited work.  Why have me at all if she had to re-do my work?  I quickly made intimate acquaintance with the minutia of correct grammar!

I have found many grammar sites online that are full of errors.  When I read them, I sigh, thinking about how many people will be steered in the wrong direction.   

For example, one site said there was no difference between =who= and =whom= and that they can be used interchangeably!  No!!  That is like saying that =he= and =him= can be used interchangeably!  

I wrote and suggested diplomatically that there might be a "typo" the lady would like to correct.  I "drew back a bloody stump" and was told, in no uncertain terms, that =who= and =whom= are interchangeable.  What a rotten shame this woman is giving grammar advice!  

~~

If you are persuaded to use the construction [=; however=] or [=. However=,], then go ahead!  

In formal writing such as business reports/schoolwork/media material/etc., however, I advise you to follow the rules we've been discussing concerning the placement of =however=.

mb  

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