I am currently proofreading a research paper for my literature class, and I was unsure if this is an acceptable use of a comma:

Profound cultural and religious differences caused Smith to conclude that the Natives were nothing more than barbarians and savages, an underlying bias which runs deep throughout the entire story.

Is this acceptable?

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  • 3
    It sounds fine to me. – Tommy Sep 9 '14 at 2:57

The comma use is correct. I thought I'd mention, though, that while the adverb "deep" can be used in its flat form, it historically contains the -ly suffix. While flat adverbs are becoming more acceptable, you may-depending upon your audience-wish to change to the traditional form or delete the superlative, altogether.

  • 2
    Mild disagreement with the suggested change. "Runs deep within/through" is a well-established phrase with semi-poetic overtones. Changing it to "deeply" loses that sense of history and drama. – keshlam Sep 14 '14 at 2:29
  • You're right; flat adverbs have their place. But it is their contrast to the established norm that draws attention, thereby making them poetically potent. – Shebupp Sep 15 '14 at 14:22
  • Not in this case. This is not really a flat adverb at all: it’s an adjective. Changing it to an adverb and saying that something ‘runs deeply’ is ungrammatical (at least to me). Run here is a semi-poetic linking verb, basically; it could easily be replaced with just be, and only nuances would be lost. It’s similar to how an engine runs hot (not *hotly) or how blood can run/turn cold (not *coldly) in your veins at the sight of some horrible ghost. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 15 '14 at 14:42

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