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In the sentence

What’s funny is Cat’s dry humour.

Wouldn’t it be better to put a comma after “funny”:

What’s funny, is Cat’s dry humour.

This question entails a (at the time of writing) heated discussion in the SO chat C++ lounge.

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"Heated" is overstating a bit, but yeah. It's worth knowing the answer at least. (I already know, but let's get an official word. :) ) –  cHao Aug 2 '12 at 14:47
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Oh, and you misspelled "humor". :D –  cHao Aug 2 '12 at 14:47
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@cHao, That is how it is spelled in British English. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  JLG Aug 2 '12 at 14:52
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The difference between a cat and a comma: a cat has claws at the end of its paws, and a comma is a pause at the end of a clause. –  MετάEd Aug 2 '12 at 14:52
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@JLG: I can't help that Brits have a glut of "U"s and have to get rid of them somehow. Somewhere there's poor children that can't read cause there aren't enough "U"s. Stop the waste, Brits! Think of the children! :) –  cHao Aug 2 '12 at 15:00

3 Answers 3

up vote 20 down vote accepted

No, it would not be better.

The reason is that it's a single clause, with "What's funny" as the subject of the verb ("is") and "Cat's dry humour" as the complement.

Never separate the subject from its verb with a comma.

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+100 if I could. –  Bob Aug 2 '12 at 17:49
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@Bob, you can. (Not saying should, merely can.) Just click on "start a bounty" (just before first answer), click Next a few times, put in some excuse, etc., voilà. A few days later, award the bounty. See details at faq: bounty. –  jwpat7 Aug 4 '12 at 19:43

A comma isn't necessary there.

"What's funny" is a noun clause. It's similar to, for instance, "what you need."

A loan is what you need.

So:

Cat's dry humor is what's funny.

It's the same thing inverted:

What's funny is Cat's dry humor.

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It was standard for much of Modern English history to use a comma to separate a complex subject (“What’s funny…”) from the rest of the sentence (“…is Cat’s dry humour”). This is in line with the purpose of punctuation in general—to indicate prosody. Many speakers actually do pause at that point in a sentence, so a comma seems only natural.

In the passages below, [,] denotes a comma which is present in the original text, but is widely (albeit arbitrarily) considered incorrect in contemporary English.

Treason against the United States[,] shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

A well regulated Militia[,] being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms[,] shall not be infringed.

In short: it’s best avoided unless you’re intentionally writing in the style of the early 1800s.

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