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The Oscars may not take place until February 24, but awards season is already in full swing, with the Golden Globes among Hollywood's many red-carpet events. (British Vogue, Feb 2013)

I've been trying to educate myself on the comma and got a little confused when I read this sentence. Is the comma between "swing" and "with" supposed to be there?

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2 Answers 2

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Yes. The sentence is a complex sentence. As described by Erlyn Baack on his site titled Advanced Composition for Non-Native Speakers of English, "A complex sentence has an independent clause joined by one or more dependent clauses. A complex sentence always has a subordinator such as because, since, after, although, or when or a relative pronoun such as that, who, or which."

In this case the word "with" acts as the above mentioned subordinator. It is always proper to separate these dependent clauses with commas.

I've broken this sentence down into its individual clauses to try to demonstrate why this sentence is a complex sentence and why it is necessary to seaperate the two clauses with commas:

Independent Clause: The Oscars may not take place until February 24,
Dependent Clause: but awards season is already in full swing,
Dependent Clause: with the Golden Globes among Hollywood's many red-carpet events."

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I don't know if this makes sense, but could I imagine it as independent clause> dependent clause> dependent clause? –  corgibutt Feb 13 '13 at 6:34
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@user37557: I think a different writer would probably have omitted the comma because the current fashion is to avoid punctuation whenever possible & when the writer doesn't know how to use it. I think J.T. Gralka's answer is sound & correct, but I don't think everyone who'd agree that there are two dependent clauses would also agree that a comma is necessary. I'd probably leave it there were I asked to copy-edit it: it's not incorrect, & I like commas, especially when sentences are complex & as long as this one is. The reader needs to take a breath. –  user21497 Feb 13 '13 at 8:53
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I, too, would put a comma there. That’s not because the reader needs to take a breath - readers don't normally read aloud – but because it helps the reader understand the structure of the sentence. Without it, the reader might think, however briefly, that with was about to introduce a prepositional phrase postmodifying swing. –  Barrie England Feb 13 '13 at 9:11
    
@BarrieEngland: Ah.. I see what you mean. –  corgibutt Feb 16 '13 at 16:50
    
General question: what happened to the rule that you're supposed to read a sentence like "clause x, clause y, clause z" fine even if you skipped clause y? when does that rule apply? –  corgibutt Feb 16 '13 at 16:53

Independent Clause: The Oscars may not take place until February 24,

Independent Clause: but awards season is already in full swing,

Dependent Clause: with the Golden Globes among Hollywood's many red-carpet events."

The second clause is independent. You have a subject (awards season) and verb (is) that is not dependent on the previous material. "Awards season is already in full swing" is a sentence.

A comma is optional in this case. If the "with" phrase is meant as parenthetical (something that could be put in parentheses), then it could take a comma. It depends on how the author wants this to read.

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