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Should I use a comma after "noted that" in the following sentence?

Tom and Dick, while driving the car, noted that at speed bumps, the suspension was making noise.

A preliminary Google search indicates both usages. Here is an example from Becker, Marshall H. "The health belief model and sick role behavior." Health Education & Behavior 2.4 (1974): 409-419:

However, it should be noted that, at extremely high or low levels of anxiety, the data for sick role and for preventive health behaviors are similar

... but which one is ideal: comma or no comma?

  • What for? Who has used a comma there and in what sentence structure? – Kris Jun 24 '16 at 6:03
  • Please also visit English Language Learners Good Luck. – Kris Jun 24 '16 at 6:03
  • " However, it should be noted that, at extremely high or low levels of anxiety, the data for sick role and for preventive health behaviors are similar;...." Becker, Marshall H. "The health belief model and sick role behavior." Health Education & Behavior 2.4 (1974): 409-419. – Bhats Jun 24 '16 at 8:37
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    I think the part of the sentence that strikes me weird is 'at speed bumps'. It is being topicalized when it's not important to the understanding of the preceding verbal clause. To me, it should read "Tom and Dick, while driving, noted that the suspension was making noise at each and every speed bump." Something to that effect. – Revlis Lain Jun 24 '16 at 9:10
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    The only reason "at extremely high or low levels of anxiety" is set off with commas is that it is like a parenthetical phrase; it has nothing to do with "that". – fixer1234 Mar 30 '17 at 19:56
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The sentence is unambiguous without a comma after "noted that." Therefore I would not put a coma there. For the same reason, I wouldn't put a comma after "bumps." I don't like commas unless they do something.

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The Chicago Manual of Style has this to say:

6.26 Commas with restrictive and nonrestrictive phrases. A phrase which is restrictive--that is, essential to the meaning (and often the identity) of the noun it belongs to--should not be set off by commas. A nonrestrictive phrase, however, should be enclosed in commas.

As for your sentences:

  1. No, and I agree with R. Gold there shouldn't be one after "bumps" either.

  2. Yes, comma

It has to do with whether your sentence makes perfect sense without the clause in question.

In Example 1, the car only makes a suspicious sound at speed bumps, so the parenthetical element "at speed bumps" makes that part of the clause essential and thus restrictive.

In Example 2, try saying your sentence without "at extremely high or low levels of anxiety." No problem. Nonrestrictive clause. They take the commas.

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Tom and Dick, while driving the car, noted that at speed bumps, the suspension was making noise.

The relevant fact here is not that "noted that" is used, but, rather, "at speed bumps" is a "parenthetical" phrase.

The same is true for the phrase following "noted that" in your second example. There is no logical reason to insert a comma following "noted that", on its own account, but it is common (but not "required") to place commas around parenthetical phrases. You can see this is what was done in your second example -- there are commas on both sides of "at extremely high or low levels of anxiety", as it is treated as an "optional" phrase (it can be deleted without changing the syntax).

Whether to use commas around parentheticals is a personal choice thing -- it depends on how much it aids in comprehension and in maintaining "normal-sounding" language.

But if one comma is used then both must be used. It is not valid to omit the comma before "at speed bumps" but include one afterwards.

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"note that" introduces an indirect discourse construction. and so there are at least two speakers involved: the original speaker (or writer) who is being quoted and the one who is doing the reporting. The various choices of wording in the quoted material can potentially be attributed to either the original speaker or the quoter.

Appositives, including at least non-restrictive relative clauses and parenthetical material, are ordinarily attributed to the reporter and not necessarily the original speaker. That is, such material need not be part of the quotation. Since there is ordinarily no pause between the complementizer "that" and its complement, the comma after "that" in your examples forces the interpretation that the reporter is responsible for the information after "that" and enclosed by the commas.

For your second example with "it should be noted that", the issue of whether the original speaker or the reporter is responsible for the wording doesn't seem to arise -- they are the same person. So I don't think the comma-intonation makes any difference.

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In the example sentence structure, the comma in question is not the usual stand-alone comma (pause-indicator punctuation), but part of a pair of commas forming a delimiter for a parenthetical phrase:

However, it should be noted that, at extremely high or low levels of anxiety, the data for sick role and for preventive health behaviors are similar; …

The clause enclosed within the pair of commas is a parenthetical. The sentence can be read, and would be grammatically correct, with or without the parenthetical part.

However, in the sentence in question, the parenthetical clause is different and is correctly enclosed in a pair of commas already. As such, no comma would be needed after "noted that" in this case.

Tom and Dick, while driving the car, noted that at speed bumps, the suspension was making noise.

We note that the issue is not at all about "noted that" being anything special that warrants a comma after it.

HTH.

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    No, the comma after it should be noted that is the first comma delimiting the fronted prepositional adjunct at extremely high or low levels of anxiety. It has nothing to do with it should be noted that at all. Elementary grammar skills will tell you that this is the case. The Subject of the whole sentence is the word it. The verb functioning as Head of the predicate is the verb noted. So they are obviously not part of a parenthetical phrase in any standard analysis. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jul 2 '16 at 8:51
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    In addition, the OP's sentence mirrors the one that they give as an example. It too has a fronted prepositional adjunct at speed bumps. The case for setting off the prepositional adjunct in commas (or not) is the same in each example. They are exactly parallel. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jul 2 '16 at 8:59

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