I've recently come upon a set of lines in a video game which either disregard the rule about commas having to come before little conjunctions (and, so, but) when separating two independent clauses, or is operating on a rule that I'm not familiar with. Here's one of the lines; this is within an email in the game:

'The plating is fairly strong but I think you'll appreciate how lightweight the entire jacket will feel once the modification is made.'

Why is there not a comma before the 'but'? 'The plating is fairly strong' and 'I think you'll appreciate how lightweight the entire jacket will feel once the modification is made' are independent clauses respectively, are they not?

Additionally, in terms of dialogue, do you HAVE to adhere to the 'comma before a small conjunction separates independent clauses' rule all the time? What if I want a character to say 'I am a man and I am very bored' in dialogue WITHOUT taking a pause (comma) before the 'and'?

This is all fairly new to me.

  • 2
    1. Ignore the grammar in video game captions; they are not authoritative for any register. 2. Use commas when you feel chunks of words need a pause or forward-pointing cadence and leave them out when you feel they don't. Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 2:14
  • 1
    @StoneyB Please, please stop saying #2. It's terrible advice and every time you say it an angel is sent to hell. For eternity.
    – deadrat
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 4:25
  • @deadrat Angels who point to rule and not sense and ear are committing the sin against the Holy Ghost. Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 13:34
  • @StoneyB Of course. (Did you expect me to disagree?) No reasonable set of punctuation rules can provide the proper guidance for every English sentence in every context in every style. That's why good style manuals remind us that exceptions to their rules do arise and that those rules cannot completely replace an author's judgment and discretion. That this obtains does not recommend the position that it's just best to give up and mark where we think we would pause to take a breath. And to take that position is to make the Baby Jesus cry.
    – deadrat
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 6:12
  • @StoneyB It is a common trope to say that authors have "a voice." It is a mistake to take that literally and thereby think that we have an "ear" when we read their text.
    – deadrat
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


The comma should be used. Without it, the conjunction looks adjectival rather than adverbial; although in your examples the potential 'garden path' is quickly cut short (by the subject-case pronoun 'I').

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