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Ok, so here is an example sentence.

"I hoped to lose the race so I wouldn't have to run against him."

Here's my dilemma. I was questioning whether a comma was necessary after "race" to separate the two independent clauses connected by "so," the coordinating conjunction, but then it occurred to me:

Is "I wouldn't have to run against him" an independent clause, or is it dependent? If it were standing on its own, would it be considered a fragment? Can someone please explain?

  • Would you include a comma in "I say this so you'll reconsider"? It's really just a matter of style - and you could also use a dash instead of a comma if you think the first clause is getting so long you need to give a visual indication so the reader can easily see where it ends. – FumbleFingers Jun 12 '14 at 21:18
  • I'm not sure what you mean by fragment, but it would certainly be appropriate to insert a comma after 'race'. They are in fact two separate sentences, joined by 'so'. Each has a main verb. – WS2 Jun 12 '14 at 21:18
  • ...also note that one could contrive a context wherein the intended sense was that you wouldn't have to run against him [in some prior event] because you hoped to lose the [later] race. And I suspect no amount of fiddling with commas would disambiguate those two interpretations. – FumbleFingers Jun 12 '14 at 21:23
  • In your example: ""I hoped to lose the race so [ (that) I wouldn't have to run against him ]." The stuff inside the brackets is a declarative content clause. It seems like you are asking whether that content clause can stand alone as an independent clause: a fully formed sentence; and if not, why not. -- That sounds like a very good question. :) – F.E. Jun 12 '14 at 21:41
  • Here's an example of a declarative content clause that can't stand alone as a fully formed sentence: "My client denies [ that he ever said any such thing ]", where the overall sentence is grammatical -- but compare to the ungrammatical independent clause: "He ever said any such thing". – F.E. Jun 12 '14 at 22:08
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No, the sentence is not fragmented. Broken down, it's simply two independent clauses connected with the coordinating conjunction "so." I wouldn't insert a comma after "race." It's not necessary.

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