Forum: General Forum
Start a New Topic 
  
Author
Comment
Use of comma

Hello everybody,

Please, I have a question about an example found here on this same site, Grammar Monster, on the use of comma with its example:

When you have got an elephant by the hind leg, and he is trying to run away, it's best to let him run. (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865)
("When you have got an elephant by the hind leg" is not a standalone sentence.

Can anybody tell me what is really wrong about that sentence because the sentence "when you have got an elephant by the hind leg" is completely a subordinate (adverbial clause of time) clause, which needs comma to separate it from the sentence that follows because it starts the whole sentence.

I think it's appropriate to use comma after a subordinate clause when starting a sentence, but why is it wrong here in the above example?

Please can anyone explain this to me in a clear manner?

Thanks.

Re: Use of comma

I don't follow you. The sentence you quote about an elephant does have a comma after the adjunct.



PaulM

Re: Use of comma

Hello Paul,

It seemed you didn't understand me. I commented over the author explaination in the website that the sentence was considered wrong because it's not a "standalone" sentence, i.e., independent clause, which is true and which means is a subordinate clause (a subordinate clause of time) at the start of—which begins—the sentence, and which must be separated by a comma because it begins the sentence. If you have studied the post very well, you would remember that the author quoted the sentence from Abraham Lincoln's book. I just referred to the source of the sentence just for you to go and check.

In a nutshell, what I am saying here is that the author said the use of comma there is incorrect, but which I see as hundred percent correct! What do you have to say about this. Go and check please! I need your reply regarding this.

Thanks.

Re: Use of comma

I see what you're asking.

When you have got an elephant by the hind leg(,) and he is trying to run away, it's best to let him run.

I'd say it was optional, though personally I would omit it. Coordinators (conjunctions) can be used to separate all kinds of clauses, both main and subordinate. The original quote looks okay to me, since the clause within the commas could be seen as parenthetical in nature, a separate unit of information.

There's also the matter of heavy vs light punctuation to consider.


With or without the first comma, the meaning is clear and unambiguous.


PaulM

Re: Use of comma

Okay, yeah that sounds clear to me: you mean the sentence, with or without comma, is grammatically correct.