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For example, "This doesn't cause any crash but later it can cause unknown memory-crashes."

I see here that the subject 'it' is not immediately after 'but'. Do I still need to use a comma before 'but' as it links another subject?

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3 Answers 3

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If I understand you intent correctly, try something like:

Although this doesn't cause any immediate crash, it may result in subsequent memory crashes.

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I agree with this, even though it doesn’t answer the question in a narrow sense. If the phrase were to remain as it is, the comma would be optional—but it is not a very well-formed phrase, so really it should be recast. “Any immediate crash” sounds odd to me, though—I would say either “an immediate crash” or reword it even further and say, “Although this does not directly cause [the machine/correct-object-in-question] to crash, it may result in subsequent memory-crashes”. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 8 '13 at 13:34
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Punctuation is almost a musical notation.

Pronounce your sentence aloud, note when you take a short breath (then comma), when you mark a small pause (then ;), when your take a lower, or higher, pitch (then - ... -), and when you mark a pause (then .) ; as for the intonation of interrogative or exclamatory sentences, it is obvious (? or !).

I recorded your sentence, said aloud :

This doesn't cause any crash but later it can cause unknown memory-crashes.

For this very simple example, I got ( "/" meaning : "taking a short breath") :

a) This doesn't cause any crash / but / later it can cause unknown memory-crashes.

it could have been :

b) This doesn't cause any crash / but later / it can cause unknown memory-crashes.

or :

c) This doesn't cause any crash / but / later / it can cause unknown memory-crashes.

The stress is on :

a) you are not completely sure

b) the present situation is not a guarantee for the future

c) you are suspicious about the future

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The use of a comma before but — also known as Oxford Comma — is optional, although I prefer to use it in longer, complicated sentences. To my understanding, if the two phrases before and after but (or any other conjunction) can exist as complete individual sentences, I would use a comma.

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Is it right to say? This doesn't cause any crash, but later it can cause unknown memory-crashes. –  dexterous_stranger Oct 8 '13 at 10:42
    
If I were to ignore the merit of the sentence itself, then yes. –  user52023 Oct 8 '13 at 10:44
    
Sorry, I couldn't follow. Why do you say, "merit of the sentence?" I am not a native English speaker. Thus, please feel free to improvise my sentence. –  dexterous_stranger Oct 8 '13 at 10:45
    
I am not a native as well. Your sentence is correct with or without a comma before 'but'. In This doesn't cause any crash but later it can cause unknown memory-crashes there is a contradiction in whether or not This' causes crash. Do you mean to say: This won't cause any *damage for now, but later it could result in unknown memory-crashes? –  user52023 Oct 8 '13 at 10:52
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This is not an Oxford comma. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 8 '13 at 13:31
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