You are here:

General Writing and Grammar Help/Comma optional or compulsory?

Advertisement


Question
QUESTION: Is the comma in this sentence compulsory, wrong, or optional?



1) "I would like to know why some people set off sentences with commas, as mentioned in the question?" (Comma before "as")

2) "I would like to know why some people set off sentences with commas as mentioned in the question?" (No comma before "as")

3) Comma is optional.

ANSWER: Dear Den:

  Is the comma in this sentence compulsory, wrong, or optional?



1) "I would like to know why some people set off sentences with commas, as mentioned in the question?" (Comma before "as")

2) "I would like to know why some people set off sentences with commas as mentioned in the question?" (No comma before "as")

3) Comma is optional.

*** I didn't realize that the "comma problem" had reached Pakistan.  Arguments in Great Britain and the United States have been going on for decades, if not centuries.

The opposing sides have agreed on this compromise:  If the phrase or clause is very short, you do NOT need the comma, UNLESS omitting it would make the whole sentence unclear.

One of the very best grammar books is "Hodges' Harbrace Handbook," which is now in its 18th edition.  Mr. Hodges devoted an entire chapter in his book to "Unnecessary Commas."  Hodges' Rule 13c is this:  "Commas set off only those words and short phrases that are clearly parenthetical."

In your example #1, "as mentioned in the question" is very short.  However, are those words parenthetical.  Are they absolutely necessary to understand the independent clause?  No, they are not necessary; you can end your sentence with "set off sentences with commas," and it will make sense.

Both Hodges and I would keep the comma, so we would choose #1.

Sentence #2, without the comma seems to be "run together."  A comma would indicate a small pause, and that would help in reading the sentence.

Finally, many people would choose option #3.

*** Den, I would like to point out a completely different issue.  SENTENCES are NOT set off with commas.  PARTS of sentences [such as phrases] ARE set off by commas.

Final answer:  #1.

Ted

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

QUESTION: Respected Ted,

I have no idea how you knew that I am from Pakistan. If I choose to omit the comma and write sentence like this, will it be considered wrong?


"I would like to know why some people set off sentences with commas as mentioned in the question?" (No comma before "as")


Is it completely wrong?

Thanks.

ANSWER: Dear Den:

When you first wrote to me, your location was given as Pakistan by Allexperts.  However, in this message, they report that you are from the U. S. state of OHIO, where I am from!

*****

"I would like to know why some people set off sentences with commas as mentioned in the question?" (No comma before "as")

*** The use of "as" is acceptable.  However, you are making a statement that is not true. SENTENCES are NOT set off with or by commas.  

For instance, here are two short sentences:

My favorite ice cream is chocolate.  I also like vanilla.

If you combine these two sentence with a comma --

My favorite ice cream is chocolate, I also like vanilla.

-- you are committing an error called the "comma splice."  Commas are not strong enough to join
two independent clauses.  Here are better ways to write these two sentence.

My favorite ice cream is chocolate; I also like vanilla.  [use a semi-colon to join them]

My favorite ice cream is chocolate, but I also like vanilla.  [use the coordinating conjunction BUT along with the comma to join them]

Your original sentence IS acceptable.  You can use "as."

Ted





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

QUESTION: Respected Ted,

The sentence I mentioned in my question was just an example. Ok let's forget about "setting sentences off commas".

My main question was that can I omit the comma before "as" in a sentence?

For example:-

"I was asked to repeat the statement as mentioned by Bill."

I omitted the comma before "as" in the sentence. Is it correct or acceptable?

I am, indeed, from Pakistan.

Please correct ANY mistake I did in the follow-up.

Thanks.

Answer
Dear Den:

I want to apologize to you for two reasons:

First, for the last nine months I have been undergoing surgery on my right eye.  It is quite painful, but, the doctor hopes that his procedures will stop or slow down the process of my going blind in that eye.  I have been late in answering Allexperts questions, because of some problems that developed after my last surgery this past week.

Second, I have not helped many students from Pakistan in my 14 years of service at Allexperts.  I do have a very good friend, Namit, who studied in the United States and then returned to Pakistan.  [He is to be married soon.  And, his birthday is on Tuesday!]  I never had any problems in communicating with Namit.

But, for reasons that I do not understand, you and I are having difficulties in understanding each other.  I tend to give the most thorough answers possible, often citing grammar books and rules to back up my suggestions.  If you check the "top volunteers of the month" at the Allexperts site, you'll find my name at or near the top for the last few years.  I received a question from a Vietnamese student about six months ago.  He was delighted with my answer, which included several recommendations for his further study.  He told a friend about me, and that friend also contacted me.  Now, I have SIX Vietnamese students who send me questions on a regular basis.

My point is that I am communicating successfully with other students.  They come from all over the world.

But, you have sent me a question and a follow-up to that question.  They both remain in my Allexperts inbox, because you did not complete the evaluation form.

I noticed that you sent the same question to another expert, who sent you a very brief answer.  You immediately evaluated his performance with all "10s" and the "volunteer of the month" nomination.

Thus, I feel I have failed you, and I regret that, Den.  I have always tried to do my best, but
this time, that was not good enough.

****

Here is your latest message:

My main question was that can I omit the comma before "as" in a sentence?

For example:-

"I was asked to repeat the statement as mentioned by Bill."

I omitted the comma before "as" in the sentence. Is it correct or acceptable?

*** IT IS VERY ACCEPTABLE.  YOU CAN ALSO USE THE COMMA, BUT IT IS "NOT" REQUIRED.

I am, indeed, from Pakistan.

*** Good, and I hope you will remain in contact with me.

Please correct ANY mistake I did in the follow-up.

*** Here are your mistakes:


My main question was that can I omit the comma before "as" in a sentence?

*** Your sentence is a statement that should end with a period.  Here is the sentence written AS a question: My main question was "Can I omit the comma before 'as' in a sentence?"

Please correct ANY mistake I did in the follow-up.

*** Corrected version:  Please correct any mistakes I MADE in the follow-up.

Best wishes to you, Den.

Ted Nesbitt  

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

Experience

I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.