I have a sentence of the form "If X, A will B and C will D," and there is some disagreement of how to punctuate it.

On one hand, it is a dependent clause followed by two independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction. In this case, there should be a comma before the "and"

On the other hand, it is a conditional clause followed by a list of effects. Since there are only two effects, a comma would be unnecessary.

How should the sentence be treated? Which punctuation is correct?

Sources would be especially appreciated.

Here is an example sentence:

If John goes to the party, Mary will bake a cake (,) and Bob will be unhappy.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Drew, user140086, curiousdannii, NVZ, tchrist Jun 4 '16 at 4:40

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  • @Rathony I don't get what you don't get? OP specifically said before the "and". Also it is their first question. And asking for a source is a good thing, not a bad one! I have put the notional comma in to help people who don't understand the question. – Araucaria Jun 1 '16 at 8:18

No comma.

Consider the two options:

If John goes to the party, Mary will bake a cake and Bob will be unhappy.

If John goes to the party, Mary will bake a cake, and Bob will be unhappy.

Option 2 looks like a list of three items: on first glance, it looks like you're telling us that the three things are going to happen. Option 1 is more obviously a conditional: it has the form "if X, then Y", where X is "John goes to the party" and Y is "Mary will bake a cake and Bob will be unhappy"

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