1

Do the two sentences below need a comma before "and"? If so, why?

1 "Juanita is brilliant and Shalimar has a pleasant personality."

2 "Use your credit cards frequently and you'll soon find yourself deep in debt."

Why is there a comma before "but"? I thought commas were not needed when the last clause is a subordinate clauses.

1 "The club never invested foolishly, but used the services of a sage investment counselor."

Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

1
  • Would it be wrong to omit the comma?
    – Victor
    Aug 18, 2015 at 0:47

1 Answer 1

1

Commas are usually not really about right and wrong, but about clarity and intent, and sometimes style.


Your first sentence is one of those that is short enough that it needs no comma:

  • Juanita is brilliant and Shalimar has a pleasant personality.

However, it is also ok to use one there, especially since there is a full independent clause following the and:

  • Juanita is brilliant, and Shalimar has a pleasant personality.

Your second sentence is better without the comma:

  • Use your credit cards frequently and you'll soon find yourself deep in debt.

That’s because that and is actually acting as a conditional operator. That sentence really means this:

  • If you use your credit cards frequently then you'll soon find yourself deep in debt.

The third sentence is fine either way, although for a different reason:

  • The club never invested foolishly but used the services of a sage investment counselor.
  • The club never invested foolishly, but used the services of a sage investment counselor.

I would personally elect the version without a comma myself.

However, there are cases where you do sometimes want a comma before a coördinating conjunction even when what follows is less than an independent clause.

This is more common with but, perhaps because some have been taught “always” to use a comma before but, but is not unknown with the others.

1
  • "clarity and intent, and sometimes style" -- yay! Aug 18, 2015 at 23:35

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