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Does the following sentence have a comma or not? Why?

In the picture(,) you can see that the flowers were blooming.

Is there a difference to these sentences?

In the car(,) you can see that human vision works at high speeds.

At midnight(,) you can hear that a city is never quiet.

2 Answers 2

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It doesn't necessarily need a comma, but it helps separate the different parts of the sentence, making it easier to understand at first glance.

Comma use has some strict rules, but a lot of the time, comma usage depends on personal preference.

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  • In the picture you can see, the flowers are blooming. has a different meaning from In the picture, you can see the flowers are blooming. Here, the commas distinguish the senses. May 23, 2014 at 23:47
  • He is already using "that" where you have used your first comma - In the picture you can see that...
    – Ronan
    May 24, 2014 at 7:24
  • 2
    That's why I said 'here' to reference the examples I gave. 'Comments' allow for development of a topic. May 24, 2014 at 10:49
  • Also in the OP example, it is certainly helpful for the readers if they do not have to read all the way up to and including “that” (in fact, even a bit further) in order to decide whether several words earlier “you can see” is main or relative clause … Mar 17, 2023 at 6:25
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Sometimes it is a good idea to add a comma to a sentence at a point where, if read aloud, you might want to have a small pause.

With your first example:

In the picture(,) you can see that the flowers were blooming.

If this was dialogue and the person was pointing the picture out to the audience then a pause whilst people focus on the picture might be helpful. However, if this text was on a web page with the picture shown above or below the text then you would not need this comma.

In the second two examples there is no justification for adding a comma. That said, if those examples were part of a longer sentence, then the commas could be useful. For example you could have:

Some people dispute that the city 'never sleeps'. However, at midnight, you can hear that a city is never quiet.

Although 'at midnight' is not an option clause therefore needing commas, once read aloud the extra pauses give the emphasis needed.

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