Is the presence of the comma in, "Is milk without coffee, considered latte?", acceptable usage?
This is one of the common abuses of comma as suggested by this paper.
12 Do not use a comma to separate the subject from the verb.
An eighteen-year-old in California, is now considered an adult. (incorrect)
The most important attribute of a cricket player, is quick reflex actions. (incorrect)
Commas in the wrong places can break a sentence into illogical pieces, or confuse readers with unnecessary and unexpected pauses. Therefore a comma shouldn't be used in the expression "Is milk without coffee, considered latte".
According to a Wikipedia article, commas are normally used
in lists (A, B and C)
to separate clauses (I was drunk, but I still managed to walk home.)
after certain adverbs (Therefore, a comma would be appropriate in this sentence.)
to enclose parenthetical words and phrases (Archy, a teenager, is developing an iPhone application that can change the world.)
between adjectives (He is a tall, distinguished man.)
before quotes (Mr. Kershner says, "That's what I'm talking about.")
to separate parts of geographical references (The plane landed in Kampala, Uganda.)
in dates (December 19, 1941)
in names (John Smith, Ph.D.)
to indicate that a word has been omitted (The cat was white; the dog, brown. [Here the comma replaces was])
before, after, or around a noun or pronoun used independently in speaking to some person, place or thing (I hope, Kenny, that you will read this.)
Note: a comma can also be used as an Oxford Comma (the second comma in "A, B, and C")
OP here. My view is that a comma may be employed, whenever in natural speech, one might like to pause ever-so-briefly. In this case, the purpose of the "ever-so-brief" pause here is to clearly demarcate "milk without coffee" as the chief subject of the question.
Perhaps here there was little risk of confusion. Consider however another example. The following three questions are identical, except for the position of the comma; each however conveys a different meaning.
(1) “Is the enemy without a woman, from France?”
(2) “Is the enemy without, a woman from France?”
(3) “Is the enemy, without a woman from France?”
If these sentences do indeed parallel my original sentence (“Is milk without coffee, considered latte?”), then the use of the comma here must similarly be "incorrect". Yet it serves the very useful purpose of clarification.
(The above three sentences may be equivalently rendered as:
(1) "The enemy who does not possess a woman--is this enemy from France?"
(2) "Is the enemy outside (e.g. outside the city walls) a French woman?"
(3) "Does the enemy not possess a woman from France?")