English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

May I suggest that you keep on searching Asda or better yet go back to Primark.

It looks as if at least one comma is needed here. I was thinking:

May I suggest that you keep on searching Asda or, better yet, go back to Primark.

Are commas necessary?

share|improve this question
If you choose two commas, the first one works better before the or. – Merk Oct 5 '12 at 4:51
Why not reduce the sentence to its essentials? "Do this or do that". You can add a comma before or if you like - that's just a stylistic choice. Whether you do or not, you should still normally enclose a "parenthetical clause" such as better yet within commas when you drop it into a sentence. – FumbleFingers Oct 5 '12 at 5:12
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If your question is 'need', in the sense it would be ungrammatical or incorrect without, then I must say 'No.' The sentence can be okay just the way it is, though only because commas are not necessary where the meaning of the sentence is unambiguous.

However, as the sentence is long and involved, I would definitely suggest parenthetical commas:

May I suggest that you keep on searching Asda or, better yet, go back to Primark.

Mainly because after all, 'better yet' is parenthetical in nature.

share|improve this answer
Isn't 'after all' also parenthetical? – Jim Oct 5 '12 at 4:42
@Jim Sure it is. My original word was 'afterall', which this grammar checker won't pass and had to break into the phrase 'after all'; a one-word parenthetical can go fine without commas. – Kris Oct 5 '12 at 4:44
Thanks. That's what I wanted to know. – Joe White Oct 5 '12 at 5:17
@Kris: I agree your first sentence completely. Just because we often put commas round parenthetical clauses doesn't mean we must. We can also (again optionally) put a comma after "Asda", but the sentence becomes decidedly "top-heavy" if we add all three. – FumbleFingers Oct 5 '12 at 5:19

Getting rid of the unnecessary "May I" fixes how the sentence reads without additional commas. Of course you may. You are making a suggestion anyway. The over-politeness just makes the sentence heavier.

share|improve this answer
I agree, Chris, but I need the sentence to remain as it is, apart from the punctuation. Would the sentence need commas as it is? – Joe White Oct 5 '12 at 3:14
I don't see how this addresses the question about commas as posed. – FumbleFingers Oct 5 '12 at 5:20
If the structure can't be changed even a little, then how about "May I suggest that you keep on searching Asda or better yet, go back to Primark." – Chris Oct 5 '12 at 7:45

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.