Take the following example sentence:

"She was concerned that in spite of her recent requests, he wouldn't accept her proposal on time."

Since there's a comma after 'requests', aught there to be one at the beginning of the propositional phrase--before the word 'in'--making it a non-restrictive modifying phrase?

As the above sentence stands--without the second comma--am I to interpret the preceding clause before the comma as a nonessential element?

I hope people see what I'm getting at. The included comma obviously enhances the readability of the sentence, and it feels natural to include it but, strictly speaking, isn't the single comma incorrect? Two commas are required, no?

If this sentence is fine, can sobody explain the logic from a syntax perspective?

Thanks for any responses.

  • Uh, do you mean propositional or prepositional? And do you mean aught or ought? – Hot Licks Oct 24 '15 at 3:46
  • I type these questions up on my phone, and it has a bizarre auto-corret feature that has a mind of its own half the time. It was 'prepositional' and 'ought'. – Sean Oct 25 '15 at 17:47

It absolutely requires the second comma as you stated. The author wss outsmarted by his or her own cleverness thinking that an "if/then" sentence was being constructed.

  • Thanks for your input. Believe it or not, I come across sentences of this form all the time, normally when the propositional phrase is placed in front of an independent clause to a compound sentence... I guess it's just a common mistake amongst inexperienced writers? – Sean Oct 24 '15 at 0:27
  • As good as an explanation as any. This kind of example is tough because when you speak it out loud (in your mind) there is a pause there. Many writers will put a comma everywhere they think a pause occurs. With this example, the more you say it, the less it makes sense until You add the second pause or just whip through it as dependent. – Stu W Oct 24 '15 at 2:47

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