I've found that sometimes I want to write a compound sentence without a comma when it does not sound correct. This is an example:

Aden knew he was being greedy but was sure that he deserved an extra biscuit.

Compared to:

Aden knew he was being greedy, but he was sure that he deserved an extra biscuit.

Can someone tell me which of these two sentences is preferable and why? I'm not completely sure, and I hope that I'm not overlooking some obvious rules.

  • The second is preferable because it sounds better. In part this is because the subject of the second "was" is not immediately clear in the first example.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 2, 2016 at 12:37

1 Answer 1


In such cases a comma separates independent clauses. While both are correct, the second is the one needing the comma because the presence of "he" creates the independent clause. In your first example, the second clause is not independent.

  • I've taken the liberty of highlighting the word 'independent' for emphasis and adding an extra sentence for additional clarity. Feel free to re-edit if you're not happy with my changes.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 2, 2016 at 11:43
  • Thanks, @TrevorD. Changes that enhance clarity are always welcome.
    – KWinker
    Jul 2, 2016 at 22:56
  • Thank you! I was wondering whether or not the first example was acceptable even though it did not flow very well.
    – Symantra
    Jul 3, 2016 at 9:01

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