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Is it correct to place two commas in this sentence?

New York City plays a significant, albeit previously neglected, role in the urban narratives of [...].

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You can use either two commas or zero, but using just one comma (the first one) is definitely wrong. – ShreevatsaR Feb 1 '11 at 19:09
Thank you all for the very quick and helpful replies! I decided to use both commas for clarity's sake even though I did write the sentence with but one comma (the first one) originally. Not being a native speaker, I sometimes tend to question my word or punctuation choices on a second reading. – user4449 Feb 1 '11 at 19:25

Your use of commas there is parenthetical. So you could also write:

New York City plays a significant (albeit previously neglected) role in the urban narratives of [...].

Your use of commas is valid and frequently used.

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Yes, that's fine.

A good rule of thumb when placing commas is to read the sentence through out loud, and actually say the word 'comma' in your head when you come to one. This gives you a sense of the pause the comma creates. If it sounds right, it is right!

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It depends on whether you prefer an open or closed style of punctuation. It is fine to say

New York City plays a significant, albeit previously neglected, role in the urban narratives of [...].

but equally fine to say

New York City plays a significant albeit previously neglected role in the urban narratives of [...].

The judgment here must be whether the commas are needed to make the meaning clear. I think in this case they are not needed. But in a sentence with many clauses and antecedents and the like you may need the extra grouping that commas provide. Or you may not.

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Commas can be considered a courtesy to the reader. They make writing easier to read. In your second example the meaning may still be clear (which is arguable), but it is not as easy or pleasant to read. It runs through too quickly because there are no commas. – user3444 Feb 1 '11 at 14:22
@ElendilTheTall: I stand by my answer. As given, it already takes your objection into account, clearly stating that it is a matter of style whether to use commas in (some) parenthetical clauses. Also, I'm more interested in contributing to a discussion than I am in hijacking it for other purposes, so I'll pass on the vote war. – Robusto Feb 1 '11 at 14:45
I also have no interest in hijacking a discussion, I was merely voicing my opinion on comma use. 'Vote war' was a joke, hence the smiley; however, I will delete it. – user3444 Feb 1 '11 at 14:57
@Robusto: It's obviously my failing, but I read at the speed I would speak, always have and tend to get annoyed by a lack of punctuation. I tend to think that it is always best to err on the side of too much, rather than too little. English is a language full of ambiguity and the extra clarity afforded is usually appreciated. – Orbling Feb 1 '11 at 16:15
@Rhodri: LOL, good point, might be and but not a coordinating conjunction. Note to self: When rebuking, rebuke correctly! – Orbling Feb 1 '11 at 18:29

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