Just spotted this as an answer in Quora:

And those who were seen dancing, were thought to be crazy, by those who could not hear the music.

At first look, I thought the comma between dancing and crazy was wrong. Will this be grammatically wrong? What about the comma between crazy and by? Is that wrong too?

  • 5
    It needs no commas anywhere. – tchrist Mar 17 '13 at 11:44

The commas are unnecessary, but they're not grammatically incorrect. The meaning of the sentence is clear.

In days of olde, when English was just a lass, excessive commafication was commonplace. They told the reader where to pause when reading and speaking the written word, as these do.

Sometimes even today writers will use a comma to separate the subject from the predicate: it's rare, but not unheard of, but, like the elusive Sasquatch, even more rarely seen. These two commas turn the sentence into a "found poem" of sorts:

And those who were seen dancing [grammatical subject]
Were thought to be crazy [main passive voice verb phrase]
By those who could not hear the music [passive voice agent]

Commas cause contention. Some like 'em and some don't. The rules about their use are like overcooked spaghetti: even a tasty sauce can't make them palatable.

  • 1
    Bill, +1 for the last sentence! – user19148 Mar 17 '13 at 12:10

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