(Notice how in the graphic I’ve included with this post, one person is dragging the other – or is it one person trying to stay with the other – this is the dependent relationship I want to illustrate here.)
Well, here we are – back with another day filled with fun facts about the comma. (Okay, maybe it’s only me who thinks they’re fun facts.)
So, in my last post, we discussed the use of a comma when you’re joining an Independent Clause with another one, OR when you’re joining a Dependent Clause with the Independent Clause, also known as a compound sentence. We discussed how a Dependent Clause is one that doesn’t express a complete thought; it cannot stand alone, and it needs more information to make a statement.
In addition to the compound sentence scenario, you will also have introductory dependent clauses. I see this error in a lot of peoples’ writing. The introductory phrase does what it says – it introduces the sentence.
If you accept this scholarship, we will pay for all college expenses and fees.
Whether you agree with her or not, she is right.
In both of these sentences, you have the opening phrase followed by a comma. As illustrated in these two examples, you can see that a subordinating conjunction (if, because, or when) introduces the dependent clause, and the second part of the sentence is an independent clause.
Conversely, you have instances where a main, independent clause opens the sentence, and a dependent clause follows it. (Very similar to the compound sentence rules)
We will agree to the proposal if you accept our conditions.
Paul sighed when he heard the news.
There are several more discussions in the Chicago Manual of Style** about the use of commas with different kinds of predicates, appositives, etc. I’m not going to cover those – for a few reasons, I fear I would confuse you because just reading about them makes my head spin. And, obviously, I do not feel like I’m understand them well enough to give you any kind of explanation.
So, next time, we will take a look at the Great Oxford Comma Debate.
**the Chicago Manual of Style is the most widely used style guide in writing. It is well worth the investment to include one in your library of reference books, OR subscribe to the online service.