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Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: February 22, 2022 07:54PM
It seems to me that both versions are correct. What say you?

A. Can you think of any other popular laws that are or were broken by people?

B. Can you think of any other popular laws that are, or were, broken by people?

I confess that the move to Canada has gotten me more confused about commas. There seems to be just enough difference between British and US use (with Canada in the middle), that I get more flummoxed than normal. Inside punctuation? Outside punctuation? Is it raining?

thanks, Todd,',s key, board,
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Fritz
Date: February 22, 2022 07:56PM
commas.

what? no poll?



!#$@@$#!

What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?

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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: mattkime
Date: February 22, 2022 08:00PM
I'd go without commas. For reference - I'm about 400 miles from the norther border. Reason - add commas as they clarify, too many feels a little halting.



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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: February 22, 2022 08:00PM
Ooh, I originally set this up as a poll and the deleted the poll.

Hoping people was eloquent for their positions.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Tiangou
Date: February 22, 2022 08:11PM
No commas in print under most circumstances.

But if you were trying to indicate a place to pause while speaking, then you might use commas or em-dashes:

"Can you think of any other popular laws that are -- or were -- broken by people?" she asked, pausing dramatically and then putting great emphasis on the word "were."



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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Don C
Date: February 22, 2022 08:14PM
My inclination is to use one comma, "that are, " but I worry that Barbara Garst, my high school senior English teacher might haunt me for advocating too strongly and being quite wrong.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: February 22, 2022 08:16PM
Personally, I—after years of experience—would use em dashes, as well. However, this is a grammar question on a student's assignment.

thanks, T's kb
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: February 22, 2022 08:26PM
I think anything that’s been discussed would be okay.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: August West
Date: February 22, 2022 08:45PM
Grammatically, either is correct. The choice on using or not depends on the nuance of meaning that you wish to make. How much emphasis on the "or were" is warranted?



“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in."

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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: RgrF
Date: February 22, 2022 08:51PM
It's too short a sentence to be broken up with commas, that and commas don't add to subject flow or comprehension.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: PeterB
Date: February 22, 2022 09:34PM
I think either is acceptable. In this case though, the commas are not strictly necessary.




Freya says, 'Hello from NOLA, baby!' (Laissez bon temps rouler!)
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: February 22, 2022 09:44PM
....comma....chameleon.....you come and go.....you come and go....



_____________________________________

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: hal
Date: February 22, 2022 10:33PM
Can you think of any other popular laws that have been broken by people?
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: testcase
Date: February 22, 2022 10:34PM
I'd go WITH both commas. That said, the sentence would still make sense without them.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Diana
Date: February 22, 2022 10:54PM
Todd:

Both versions are grammatically correct as far as I can see. Keep in mind, I'm not an editor. I favor the one using the commas as it emphasizes past action leading to the present (and possibly the future). The first one, without the commas, feels "wordy" to me.

hal:

Can you think of any other popular laws that have been broken by people?

Me:

Can you think of any other popular laws that people may have broken? or Can you think of any other popular laws that people may have broke?

I'm not sure about broken/broke though.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Diana
Date: February 22, 2022 10:55PM
Quote
NewtonMP2100
....comma....chameleon.....you come and go.....you come and go....

Thank you. Now that's running through my brain.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: rich in distress
Date: February 22, 2022 11:14PM
What about parentheses?
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Janit
Date: February 22, 2022 11:22PM
The whole sentence feels clunky to me. The use of commas might make it feel less clunky, but that would be camouflage, and disguise is not the purpose of commas.

I would want to interview you about what is your purpose in asking this question, who are you asking it of, and what is the context.

With that information in hand, I would recommend a rewrite, with special attention to eliminating the passive voice.

- signed with Janit's editorial keyboard
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: February 22, 2022 11:49PM
To clarify, the sentence is one sentence in an exercise to practice use and proper placement of commas.

Ten sentences (all without commas) are given. The assignment is to place all necessary commas in their proper locations. For example, another sentence is to use one or more commas to punctuate a direct quotation.

I'm pretty sure the person who created the exercise wants students to choose version B (with the two commas). Some grammar books would call these "interrupter" commas (or some variation of "interrupt").

It's hard for me to tell students that option B is the only correct option. Version A sounds perfectly acceptable. Students sometimes find it confusing when I don't agree 100% with the text.

Todd's alternative answer-key board
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: gabester
Date: February 22, 2022 11:58PM
I choose A - but I am not an Oxford comma fan...

A. Can you think of any other popular laws that are or were broken by people?

Phrasing this a little different -

Can you think of any other popular laws that people break or that people broke?

Adding an Oxford/serial comma here would seem peculiar (although not technically incorrect):

Can you think of any other popular laws that people break, or broke

If you just have two elements to differentiate then the conjunction suffices...

[en.wikipedia.org]

I'd add one or more commas if you have more elements...

Can you think of any other popular laws that are, were, or could be broken by people?

At the very least you'd need one in case:

Can you think of any other popular laws that are, were or could be broken by people?

Can you think of any other popular laws that people broke, break, or could break?

(Huh it's funny but I skimmed some of the comments including Janit's and didn't realize that I unconsciously agreed and rewrote in non-passive voice for a clearer example.)



g=
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Article Accelerator
Date: February 23, 2022 12:19AM
Quote
gabester
I choose A - but I am not an Oxford comma fan...

I don't think the OP's examples are related in any way to the use of the Oxford comma. The latter is prescribed for properly delineating three or more terms.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Janit
Date: February 23, 2022 12:27AM
Quote
Todd's keyboard
To clarify, the sentence is one sentence in an exercise to practice use and proper placement of commas.

Ten sentences (all without commas) are given. The assignment is to place all necessary commas in their proper locations. For example, another sentence is to use one or more commas to punctuate a direct quotation.

I'm pretty sure the person who created the exercise wants students to choose version B (with the two commas). Some grammar books would call these "interrupter" commas (or some variation of "interrupt").

It's hard for me to tell students that option B is the only correct option. Version A sounds perfectly acceptable. Students sometimes find it confusing when I don't agree 100% with the text.

Todd's alternative answer-key board

Jeebus. Bad sentences make bad English, regardless of where you put the commas. And that is one hell of an infelicitous sentence.

What is the power structure like where you are teaching? Can you get away with picking and choosing which exercises you use? Are you forced to use this textbook?
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: RgrF
Date: February 23, 2022 12:28AM
from my Twitter profile:
Pulitzer Prize reader - Death to the Oxford comma.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: February 23, 2022 12:31AM
Wow, I love the Oxford comma. I wrote a book that did not use Oxford commas, and I wish I could take back all of the copies and insert multitudes of Oxford commas. (It was not that important a book.)

We invited two clowns, my English teacher and my math teacher. (two people were invited)

We invited two clowns, my English teacher, and my math teacher. (four people were invited)

Todd's Limey keyboard
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Janit
Date: February 23, 2022 12:50AM
Was the textbook written by a Canadian or by an American? If the author is American, you can reassure the students that Americans don't know how to use the language properly.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: February 23, 2022 01:30AM
I am a fan of the Oxford comma, and commas in general.

Agreed, this is not related to that, so I would go with sentence A though, if you had no other choice in phrasing it.

Oh, and on occasion—I like a good em dash, too.






I am that Masked Man.

All you can do, is all you can do.

There’s trouble — it's time to play the sound of my people.

Your boos mean nothing to me, I've seen what you cheer for.

Insisting on your rights without acknowledging your responsibilities isn’t freedom, it’s adolescence.

I've been to the edge of the map, and there be monsters.

We are a government of laws, not men.

Everybody counts or nobody counts.

When a good man is hurt,
all who would be called good
must suffer with him.

You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

There is no safety for honest men except
by believing all possible evil of evil men.

We don’t do focus groups. They just ensure that you don’t offend anyone, and produce bland inoffensive products. —Sir Jonathan Ive

An armed society is a polite society.
And hope is a lousy defense.

You make me pull, I'll put you down.

I *love* SIGs. It's Glocks I hate.




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/2022 02:29AM by RAMd®d.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: RgrF
Date: February 23, 2022 02:52AM
Quote
Todd's keyboard
Wow, I love the Oxford comma. I wrote a book that did not use Oxford commas, and I wish I could take back all of the copies and insert multitudes of Oxford commas. (It was not that important a book.)

We invited two clowns, my English teacher and my math teacher. (two people were invited)

We invited two clowns, my English teacher, and my math teacher. (four people were invited)

Todd's Limey keyboard

Restructuring of a sentence obviates any need for a comma (Oxford or otherwise)
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Blankity Blank
Date: February 23, 2022 03:33AM
Quote
RAMd®d
I am a fan of the Oxford comma, and commas in general.

Agreed, this is not related to that, so I would go with sentence A though, if you had no other choice in phrasing it.

Oh, and on occasion—I like a good em dash, too.

In accord with almost all of the above. The comma is my comfort punctuation.

In the example given, I prefer the emphasis provided by the commas.



A priest, a rabbit and a minister walk into a bar.
The bartender asks the rabbit "what'll ya have?"
The rabbit says "I dunno. I'm only here because of Autocorrect.



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
As of July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now available by simply dialing 988. The previous number, 1-800-273-8255, will remain active.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/2022 03:35AM by Blankity Blank.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Michael
Date: February 23, 2022 05:35AM
Quote
Todd's keyboard
Personally, I—after years of experience—would use em dashes, as well. However, this is a grammar question on a student's assignment.

thanks, T's kb

I think either is grammatically correct. Quite frankly, I'd choose based on the age of the teacher. Old teacher, both commas; young teacher, no commas.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Fritz
Date: February 23, 2022 06:52AM
until Vampire Weekend came out with the song, I never heard the term Oxford comma. But sometime I do, and, sometimes I don't.



!#$@@$#!

What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?

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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Lux Interior
Date: February 23, 2022 08:55AM
Kamas were an advanced weapon.

I learned the bo staff and sai, but didn't do nunchaku or kama.

Wait what?
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: August West
Date: February 23, 2022 09:20AM
I'm a descriptive grammarian, but I use the oxford comma as a convention. Sometimes it's necessary to keep clarity in your writing, so I just always insert it in order to avoid constant considerations about its necessity.

This cat has a cogent blog post covering perspectives in this thread



“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in."

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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: February 23, 2022 11:34AM
I would use commas if restricted to using only those words in that exact arrangement. It doesn't flow well, but is precisely clear.

However if given the option, I woulds restructure the sentence as many others have already said.

An example: I restructured my first sentence above to avoid the use of a comma which unnecessarily broke up the sentence, and it flows much better now.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Numo
Date: February 23, 2022 01:57PM
Quote
Tiangou
No commas in print under most circumstances.

But if you were trying to indicate a place to pause while speaking, then you might use commas or em-dashes:

"Can you think of any other popular laws that are -- or were -- broken by people?" she asked, pausing dramatically and then putting great emphasis on the word "were."

I like using em-dashes the best because I think it replicates the rhythm of speech in order to clarify it’s meaning. .

There is an OCD aspect to this conversation that I enjoyed.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Blankity Blank
Date: February 23, 2022 04:14PM
Quote
Lux Interior
Kamas were an advanced weapon.

I learned the bo staff and sai, but didn't do nunchaku or kama.

Wait what?

Kamas? Out of the question. I’d van Gogh myself inside of a week.

Love the bo, but how are you gonna get one on a bus? And you know it’s never going to fit in the overhead bin on a plane. You’ll never see an Air Marshal with one.

And the sai? Every five minutes some joker yelling “Why don’t you just stab him?!?” And there’s no way I could deal with all the bullfighter comments.

So, nunchaku and a wardrobe of “No I’m not Bruce Lee” t-shirts it is.



A priest, a rabbit and a minister walk into a bar.
The bartender asks the rabbit "what'll ya have?"
The rabbit says "I dunno. I'm only here because of Autocorrect.



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
As of July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now available by simply dialing 988. The previous number, 1-800-273-8255, will remain active.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: dk62
Date: February 24, 2022 09:42AM
My general feeling is that the version without commas is incorrect, but I am not a native speaker.
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Re: Commas or no commas in this sentence
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: February 24, 2022 11:41PM
Quote
Todd's keyboard
Wow, I love the Oxford comma. I wrote a book that did not use Oxford commas, and I wish I could take back all of the copies and insert multitudes of Oxford commas. (It was not that important a book.)

We invited two clowns, my English teacher and my math teacher. (two people were invited)

We invited two clowns, my English teacher, and my math teacher. (four people were invited)

Todd's Limey keyboard

My favorite: “At the bar were two lesbians, Merle Haggard and Henry Kissinger.”



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/24/2022 11:41PM by Dennis S.
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