General Writing and Grammar Help/commas


Hi Martha,
I stumped on the position of my commas in the following sentence.  

I quickly dressed, and with great gusto, headed out to find local florists.  

The main part of the sentence is "I quickly dressed and headed out to find local florists.  I think I need the commas as I put them above to separate that part out from the main sentence.  Normally the main part of the sentence, however, would not require a comma prior to "and."  Then again, I think perhaps I don't need the comma prior to "and," - just after "gusto."  

The sentence has two verbs working on one subject.  (It's not a main clause and a subordinate clause:  each clause has its own subject and verb.)  

Unfortunately, you've put a comma in the wrong place, and this has obscured that there is a 2nd verb working on the same subject.

The skeleton of your sentence is:
I dressed and headed [out].  

Notice there is no comma.  A comma is not needed because there is not a second subject.  (If there were:  I dressed, and I headed out.)

=With great gusto= is a prepositional phrase. You are using it to emphasize that you are really excited to get out the door to the florist. It is not really necessary for the sentence to make sense.   

The prepositional phrase should be set off with commas, but it doesn't have to be.  If you put commas in, you are giving it special emphasis.

The proper punctuation is:
I quickly dressed and, with great gusto, headed out to find local florists.  

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Martha Beth Lewis


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