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I am writing a poem about a coach. Is this comma necessary?

Without doubt, one of the best!

  • Hello, Arjun. Have you Googled this to see what the world at large thinks? (Put double inverted commas round the string, and watch out for differences like 'Without doubt(,) one of the best restaurants ...' and 'He is(,) without doubt(,) one of the best ...'.) – Edwin Ashworth Sep 2 '14 at 19:46
  • The comma is not necessary grammatically but could be helpful for your rhythm. If you add the comma, it forces the line to 4 feet: (trochee without, trochee doubt + comma (pause), trochee one of, iamb the best. If you omit the comma, it's 3 feet: (trochee without, spondee doubt one, anapest of the best). How many feet do the other lines have and are you maintaining a regular rhythm? Do you have a reason to make this line longer or shorter than the rest for emphasis? All of these things should be considered. – Brillig Sep 2 '14 at 21:12
  • @Brillig I've never seen such a detailed analysis of the comma-solely-for-prosody usage. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 2 '14 at 21:21
  • @EdwinAshworth Understanding the impacts of commas and other pauses on meter is not really advanced, and for any serious writer I've worked with it's old hat, especially if they've dabbled in poetry at all. Suggest you pick up a copy of Understanding Poetry by Robert Penn Warren or a similar book geared for beginners and you should find a very detailed chapter there that will make my comment look like an ABC's primer. – Brillig Sep 2 '14 at 21:58
  • @Brillig In certain forums, you're lucky if you don't get slammed for even considering non-grammatically-marking usages. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 2 '14 at 22:02
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Depends what you're trying to say.

If your goal is to say that you have neither doubt nor one-of-the-best, then a comma would be needed.

Use a comma to avoid confusion.

If your goal is to suggest someone is by far the best then you don't need a comma, but you can have one if you want, perhaps to create a pause for effect.

When writing, you will receive opposition to any unnecessary commas; it doesn't mean that you are wrong, but for understandable reasons such shot-gunning is rare to gain peer-approval.

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