Mark Twain understood that lampooning a bad idea with humor was the most effective criticism.

I just can't help but feel there's a comma in there somewhere, but I can't figure it out!!

  • Does this sentence does require a comma, somewhere? ;) – New Alexandria Nov 14 '14 at 19:11
  • @New Alexandria: That sentence requires more drastic attention, somewhere else! ;) – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '14 at 19:13

In clauses with a long subject such as lampooning a bad idea with humor, we do sometimes make a mini-pause in speech before the verb, which is why some pople would place a comma after humor. However this would be incorrect. One of the few absolute rules of English punctuation is that we must not separate a verb from its subject by a single comma.

  • This is correct. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Nov 14 '14 at 18:56
  • Thank you, that's exactly where I was thinking of putting a comma. – learnerX Nov 14 '14 at 20:15

The best way to think about a comma is a pause. Say the sentence out loud. Do you pause? If so, put in a comma. If you don't, no comma needed.

Honestly, I wouldn't put a comma in that sentence. There are no grammatical rules that require a comma, and I don't pause at all when saying it.

  • While there are no grammatical rules that require a comma, there are grammatical rules that forbid a comma – see the answer by tunny. – ntoskrnl Nov 14 '14 at 21:36
  • 1
    Actually, there are grammatical rules that require a comma. Lists come to mind, among many. – Nick2253 Nov 14 '14 at 21:47

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