• a: I entered the house, through the window, and saw a few dancing cats.
  • b: I entered the house through the window and saw a few dancing cats.
  • c: I entered the house through the window, and saw a few dancing cats.

Which is one is the most correct? Which one would you most likely see in a book teaching about grammar.


  • a: Which one would be considered the most correct, by rigorous standards?
  • b: Which one would, by rigorous standards, be considered the most correct?
  • c: Which one would be considered, by rigorous standards, the most correct?
  • d: Which one would by rigorous standards be considered the most correct?
  • e: Which one would be considered the most correct by rigorous standards?

Which one of those would you most likely see in a grammar book? Which is the most correct and formal sounding. If more than one are correct, just tell me.

I hope somebody can clear up my confusion.

Greetings :)

  • Does nobody know the answer to this? I'm not a native-English user...
    – Amaury
    Jul 16, 2013 at 8:38
  • 3
    None of the sentences is grammatically wrong or more correct than the others. The problem is that your post implicitly asks several different questions. For example: about delimiting parts of a sentence with commas, about separating independent clauses with commas, about the position of delimited expressions within sentences, about punctuation style in general. I suggest you repost separate questions. For example, you could ask about the difference between 1a and 1b, or 2b and 2d.
    – Shoe
    Jul 16, 2013 at 10:57
  • I don't know where you are located, but (1) it is rather impatient to post your comment after just 1 hour. (2) Many members here live in the USA, where (at the time of my writing) it is 07:50 at the latest - and only 04:50 on the west coast.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 16, 2013 at 11:44
  • Obviously, I didn't know the relevant terminology, hence why I made a post in such a manner. It's bit of a pity that you didn't answer to my question anyway, even though you were looking at it. I will never understand that, it's like someone has the urge to to teach an adult a 'leçon de morale'...
    – Amaury
    Jul 16, 2013 at 13:25
  • 1
    Amaury, If your comment is addressed to me, well, I did answer your question when I stated: None of the sentences is grammatically wrong or more correct than the others. It is just that the differing punctuations or placement of elements gives each of the sentences a different nuance, which is not what you asked about and which would require a very lengthy answer. I'm sorry if my comment implied some kind of admonition, but if you ask a question on a language site, it is not unreasonable to expect an answer which contains language words - these might be helpful to other site visitors.
    – Shoe
    Jul 16, 2013 at 14:02

3 Answers 3


In a text of grammar, hopefully, there would be explanations in the usage of puncuatation, especially commas. A journalism text would teach usage of commas leads to long rambling sentences, whereas, a period at the end of each thought or statement would be preferable for "rigorous standards". In a text of creative writing, commas, and/or other devices may be sprinkled throughout according to whim or artistic style. In short, there is no rigorous standard for art or grammar. There is no text of "rigorous" standards.


The comments Shoe makes are very pertinent.

I'd add that a further complicating factor encountered when trying to select a better-sounding style with example 1 is that the dancing cats make all options sound jarring. With a less quirky sentence, punctuation could be used to reflect the breakdown of the speaker's thought process: for instance, two commas either make 'through the window' an aside, or, paradoxically, emphasise the parenthesis (though a pair of dashes would add more emphasis).

With your alternatives in '2', the adverbial 'by rigorous standards' is fairly free to migrate, as is usually the case, and none of your alternatives is ungrammatical. Having said that, 'd' is a bit hard to scan. 'c' has the adverbial immediately post-modifying the verb it is modifying, which is usually the clearest option. However, 'a' and 'e' sound most idiomatic (in the sense of 'would normally be the choice when speaking'); 'e' probably better reflects the cadences of the spoken version, whereas 'a' is easier to scan.

Incidentally, the transposed meaning of 'by rigorous standards' to mean 'if one were employing rigorous standards' might be considered non-standard.


1b is the most correct answer for the first question. This is because you haven't run into any of the standard uses of the comma, which can be found here (as a non-native speaker you'll likely want to stick closely to this, but in many cases these rules can be broken or ignored for stylistic reasons). The second question is more complicated because no answer is necessarily more accurate than any other from a semantic point of view. If I were writing the sentence, I would say

Which would be considered most correct by rigorous standards?

My thinking here is as follows: 'the', as a definite article, specifies that we are referring to only one of many possible choices. It is unnecessary here, because we have already used 'most', which tells the reader that we will be choosing only one from our set. 'Which one' is reduced to 'which' by similar logic.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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