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I was jumping about up to my thighs in the waters.

Is a comma necessary after "about", or in another place in the sentence?

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Both are possible, and have slightly different meanings.

With a comma, you are saying that you were "jumping about":

I was jumping about, up to my thighs in the waters.

The second way to parse it, you were just "jumping" and the waters were "about up to your thighs":

I was jumping about up to my thighs in the waters.

In which case you could also place a comma after jumping:

I was jumping, about up to my thighs in the waters.

  • I was jumping about, about up to my thighs in the waters. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 21 '14 at 18:00
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    @EdwinAshworth I was about to have a bout of about 20 minutes of jumping about, about up to my thighs in the waters about. – Digital Chris Feb 21 '14 at 18:18
  • @Digital Chris: I was about to say that! (Is this a context where I could reasonably say "Jinx!" instead? If so, can I have a glass of wine? I don't drink Coke! :) – FumbleFingers Feb 21 '14 at 18:41
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I would say you need commas after about and thighs. Up to my thighs is a parenthetical phrase and needs to be offset. (I'm no grammarian, so feel free to behead me for being wrong on that.)

  • That would be one comma too many, even for prescriptivists, I think. Up to my thighs in water, I jumped about. – anongoodnurse Feb 21 '14 at 17:45
  • @Susan I would read it as: I was jumping about in water. (The water was up to my thighs). Not sure if that is making my point clearer. – David M Feb 21 '14 at 20:11
  • Yes, I did understand your point, but I don't think you need to close off everything that can sometimes be taken as a parenthetical. This reads badly: *I jumped about, up to my thighs, in water. It's a mediocre sentence turned ogre. – anongoodnurse Feb 22 '14 at 2:45
  • @Susan LMAO! I like that! Turned ogre! – David M Feb 22 '14 at 2:51

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