In the introduction to The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins there is the following sentence: "The correct word of the title to stress is 'gene' and let me explain why."

I thought that since and connects two independent clauses -- 1) "the correct ... is 'gene'" 2) "let me explain why" -- there should be a comma before 'and'. Or is "let me explain why" not a independent clause?

closed as off-topic by MetaEd, user140086, NVZ, tchrist, Mitch Jul 13 '16 at 14:17

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    It would be clearer with a comma. – Colin Fine Jul 11 '16 at 20:18
  • It's written in a conversational style. – MetaEd Jul 11 '16 at 20:56
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    Yeah, I think a lot of writers would have put a comma there. But most of them are not paid as well as Richard Dawkins, so he can do whatever he wants. – Hot Licks Jul 11 '16 at 21:30
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    "Let me explain why" is a main clause. You are right about that. Generally, when a coordinating conjunction like "and" introduces a second main clause to a sentence, we put a comma before it. Over the past decades, however, there has been a movement to streamline writing by eliminating commas that inhibit flow. With that, it has become acceptable to eliminate the comma before "and" if the two main clauses it's joining are short. Therefore, whether or not to use a comma before "and" in sentences such as this has become more a question of style than of grammar. – Benjamin Harman Jul 11 '16 at 23:07

I believe there are two factors in play here. One is that, most grammar rulebooks (for example this site) indicate that it is acceptable to omit the comma if both of the independent clauses are short, and some also feel that it is acceptable to omit it if just one of the two independent clauses is very short.

Second, many authors write with the intent to convey a specific feeling or tone, and they may feel that "bending the rules" a little just feels closer to what they are really trying to say.

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