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I'm having a problem finding an example of comma placement when two independent clauses are joined by a dependent clause and the word "and". Does the comma go before or after the "and"?

For example:

Mary asked John for the third time and, without blinking at eye, he finally turned down the stereo. (I've placed the comma after the "and")

Here's another example:

John ignored Mary throughout the entire meal, and letting out a heavy sigh, she stood up and left the room. (I placed the comma before the "and")

Which is correct?

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    The comma after the and is logical and is correct. It's not the Oxford comma. The examples involve a parenthetical clause delimited by a pair of commas, that's all. – Kris Feb 24 '15 at 11:51
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Your examples are more complex than just independent clause + and + independent clause. In those simple cases, the comma would go before the and. But your examples are complicated with parenthetical insertions, pertaining in each case to the second of the clauses, and directly following the and. In cases like that, since you are marking off your parentheticals at their back ends with commas (as opposed to dashes or bananas), you need commas at their front ends, too. Thus in either example commas should both precede and follow the word and.

  • Bananas?!? That's a new one for me. Never seen people punctuate their writing with fruit before. (I take it bananas are parenthesis/round brackets?) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 24 '15 at 3:29
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    You do not need commas before and after and. For parenthetical insertions, you need a comma before and after the insertion, not before the and. His first example is completely correct. – Michael Rize Feb 24 '15 at 11:30
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, the terminology clearly works for you, and prevents some confusion in my students—between the marks of punctuation on the one hand, and on the other actual syntactic structures that can be demarcated either by them or otherwise. Confusion on apostrophe is less of a problem because that figure of rhetoric is so rare these days. But to those who abominate calling quotation marks or inverted commas “quotes,” but find the other terms cumbersome, I commend my old Ojibwe language teacher’s alternative: deer hoofs. – Brian Donovan Feb 24 '15 at 13:30
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    @MichaelRize Indeed the comma before the and would be optional in a simple IC + and + IC sentence, with the ICs simple and short; but with the added complexity of the parentheses, and the commas they entail, the case for the comma before the and gets much stronger. – Brian Donovan Feb 24 '15 at 14:19
  • @BrianDonovan ‘“Hooooves?” said the Owl.’ – tchrist Feb 25 '15 at 13:58
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The snag here is that the parenthetical follows a coordinator, and coordinators usually may have or even prefer a comma before them, certainly for longish independent clauses.

Here, I'd say that the parenthetical (which arguably then needs another name) is sufficiently set off by even the not-quite-adjacent comma:

Mary asked John for the third time, and without blinking an eye, he finally turned down the stereo.

I wouldn't complain if someone included another comma after the coordinator, but I'd hope they were doing it for a prosodic rather than a prescriptive reason.

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There is nothing wrong with putting a comma after and. In fact, in many situations, it is more appropriate to do so than not.

"Mary asked John for the third time and, without blinking an eye, he finally turned down the stereo."

This is completely correct. The sentence reads and sounds better because it creates the rhythmic timing that we do naturally, conversationally.

"John ignored Mary throughout the entire meal and, letting out a heavy sigh, she stood up and left the room."

This is also completely correct.

Consensus is that comma after "and" is ok, as long as you have both commas around a parenthetical.

For example: This is a correct sentence:

“The accounts department have discovered the whereabouts of the missing thousand pounds and, unfortunately, we’re going to have to fire you.”

Here is a reference URL about use of parenthetical(s) with sample sentences, one of which that includes a comma after and.

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/8-types-of-parenthetical-phrases/

  • (1) Can you provide a reference (eg a style guide) allowing the dropping of the comma before the and in an IC + and + parenthetical + IC sentence? (2) It sounds more faithful to how I'd read these sentences to include the comma before the and to signal a pause. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 24 '15 at 10:28
  • Consensus is that comma after and is ok, as long as you have both commas around a parenthetical. – Michael Rize Feb 24 '15 at 11:08
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    'Concensus'? The people writing in to your linked article often misidentify the question asked there. Hardly authoritative. The trouble here is that there are three potentially conflicting points to consider: (1) commas before coordinators / (2) commas around parentheticals / (3) light vs heavy punctuation styles. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 24 '15 at 11:37
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    Cripes, that Pen Knife page is absolutely horrible! Full of muddled writing, utterly incorrect ‘facts’, and not even, it seems, able to distinguish between before and after. (Note: Edwin was asking about the comma before and, which is completely unrelated to the parenthetical statement. Two independent/main clauses joined by the conjunction and are usually separated with a comma—that much, at least, the Pen Knife page did get right.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 24 '15 at 13:39
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Your first sentence:

Mary asked John for the third time and, without blinking at eye, he finally turned down the stereo.

I suggest you change your sentence as follows:

Mary asked John for the third time, and without blinking an eye he finally turned down the stereo.

Your second sentence:

John ignored Mary throughout the entire meal, and letting out a heavy sigh, she stood up and left.

I suggest you change this sentence as follows:

John ignored Mary throughout the entire meal, and letting out a heavy sigh she stood up and left.

To me, the extra commas are simply not necessary. Now if for whatever reason you want the reader to pause briefly after the words eye (sentence 1) and sigh (sentence 2), then fine, insert some commas.

  • "and, without blinking an eye, he finally turned down the stereo" is completely correct and in fact is better than the alternative. – Michael Rize Feb 24 '15 at 4:27
  • "without blinking at eye" vs "without blinking an eye" ? – Blessed Geek Feb 24 '15 at 4:34
  • @BlessedGeek: Guess I should've put a [sic] after the word "at." Believe it or not, I did notice the error. Don – rhetorician Feb 24 '15 at 6:31
  • @rhetorician I hope you understand that it is perfectly acceptable to put a comma after and for parenthetical phrases. – Michael Rize Feb 24 '15 at 11:37
  • @MichaelRize: Yes indeed. I think each "comma decision" should be made on a case-by-case basis. If you can read the sentence just as easily (or even more easily) with extra commas, I say go ahead. If not . . .. Don – rhetorician Feb 24 '15 at 13:43
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I'm certain that commas do not come straight after an and. Would have been more simple for you to use the same sentences as examples with the punctuation changes, however to answer your question, the second example is correct.

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    This is wrong and, to state it more bluntly, it is nonsense. – Robusto Feb 24 '15 at 2:44
  • You don't use commas after conjunctions, they're not needed. – Steven Hawk US Feb 24 '15 at 2:51
  • I said @rodger's second example was correct in terms of where he's placed the comma, how can you read "Mary asked John for the third time and, without blinking..." and think that's grammatically correct? – Steven Hawk US Feb 24 '15 at 2:55
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    It is grammatically perfectly correct. It is also correctly punctuated, which is what this question is about—its grammaticality is implied, but not directly relevant. With the comma, “without blinking” is a parenthetical statement and as such can be set off by commas (as here), parentheses, or dashes. Without it, it is a non-parenthetical statement, but then the comma after “without blinking” needs to go as well. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 24 '15 at 3:35

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