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When a comma and a coordinating conjunctions are used, both sides of the comma should be independent clauses. However, I have seen many examples in reputable sources where this is not the case. Is this occurrence due to writers treating coordinate conjunctions as part of a parenthetical phrase? Is it correct to do so? Any guidelines in regards to this in American English? Thanks.

Example: "She was the mother of three other foals, and was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 2009."

Example: "So profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumptions,that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being."

Shouldn't there be no comma before "and" in both examples?

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In example 1 the comma is redundant and introduces an unnecessary break in the sentence.

In example 2, however, you have a change of subject in the second clause, and a comma before and would alert the reader to this. You also have a change from singular to plural, and I would suggest adding the plural verb: So profound is our ignorance, and so high are our presumptions ... If you have a change of subject between two independent clauses joined by and (or but) it is worth considering adding a comma. This is a matter of style rather than a rule.

  • I disagree for case 1. Without the comma the reader might be expecting an additional attribute of her motherhood, e.g. "She was the mother of three other foals and two mules." Not very likely, but the comma is valid because you are moving on from her being a mother to her being inducted into whatever. – David May 22 '16 at 23:01

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