18

I know that usually there should be a comma after "for example" and "for instance" but in the following sentences the commas would seem odd, wouldn't they?

While it is common practice to do recalibration between trials, for example in reading research, this is not always possible or feasible (for example in studies where task completion time is measured or where an interruption might impact on contextual information or the participant’s thought processes).

  • I'm not very good with grammar, but shouldn't the reason for omitting the comma be that a comma cannot be used before a preposition? – Fairuz Ishraque Nov 26 '17 at 20:33
14

This is somewhat of a stylistic choice. "For example" should use commas except when it would make the sentence harder to read.

  1. While it is common practice to do recalibration between trials, for example in reading research, this is not always possible or feasible.

  2. While it is common practice to do recalibration between trials, for example, in reading research, this is not always possible or feasible.

In my opinion, option (1) is easier to read with the entire "for example" contained by one pair of commas. But, stylistically, my opinion is that the following would be even more appropriate:

While it is common practice to do recalibration between trials (for example, in reading research) this is not always possible or feasible.

This satisfies the traditional pattern of using commas after "for example" but still keeps the clause separated from the main sentence.


Your second example is, again, somewhat of a stylistic choice but the guidance of using a comma does not drastically impede the readability of the sentence.

  1. While it is common practice to do recalibration between trials, this is not always possible or feasible (for example in studies where task completion time is measured or where an interruption might impact on contextual information or the participant’s thought processes).

  2. While it is common practice to do recalibration between trials, this is not always possible or feasible (for example, in studies where task completion time is measured or where an interruption might impact on contextual information or the participant’s thought processes).

I prefer (2) but find (1) acceptable.


By the way, don't forget to check with any relevant bosses, professors, periodicals or publishers to see if they have a recommended style guide that can answer this question more authoritatively for your particular audience.

  • In your first pair of examples, you stated "In my opinion, option (1) is easier to read with the entire 'for example' contained by one pair of commas", but it's option 2 which contains the "for example" in 2 commas. Could you please clarify which once you prefer? – Simon MᶜKenzie Sep 26 '14 at 23:09
  • @SimonMᶜKenzie: I prefer option 1 which only uses one pair of commas. – MrHen Sep 27 '14 at 21:09
1

How about not having two for example

While it is common practice to do recalibration between trials, such as in reading research, this is not always possible or feasible. Examples would be studies where task completion time is measured or where an interruption might impact on contextual information or the participant’s thought processes.

  • Lovely rewrite and eliminates the awkward doubling of 'for example' in OP's sentence (it only sounds like two). However, I agree with him that this commaless version is better than the one with the comma: 'While it is common practice to do recalibration between trials, for example in reading research, this is not always possible or feasible.' – Edwin Ashworth Oct 21 '13 at 8:49
0

Just to try to explain why option (1) is easier to read:

The expression 'for example' is very often used postpositively, thus a sentence like

"(3) It is common practice to do recalibration between trials, for example."

would be a natural thing to expect. Using the second comma as in option (2) sort of creates a 'garden path sentence', because after reading up to that point, you'd assume a postpositive situation like that, and only after reading further you'd realise you were wrong. Whereas dropping the second comma makes it immediately clear that 'for example' refers to what follows rather than what precedes it.

  • Hello, Chris. 'Answers' must address the original question, not other 'answers'. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 4 '17 at 16:14

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