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I have recently learned that it is okay to have a sentence appear as such, "I have seen that movie more than anyone ever has, or ever will, and it has never stopped being funny to me." The "or ever will" part of the sentence should be in commas because it is not necessary to the sentence; it could be removed and the sentence would still make sense. But what if that would come at the end of a sentence? What is on the right side of a comma is not an independent clause. But should it have a comma before it?

  1. "That causes more damage than anything ever has, or ever will."

  2. "That causes more damage than anything ever has or ever will."

  • I certainly prefer the first, i.e. with the comma. But not everyone will necessarily agree. – WS2 Nov 30 '16 at 21:44
  • Just because part of a sentence is between commas doesn't mean that that part of the sentence is unnecessary. Not at all. On the other hand, if part of a sentence is in parentheses, most people would consider that unnecessary, – Richard Kayser Dec 1 '16 at 6:06
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Disclaimer

To some extent punctuation is a matter of fashion or style. Although there are cases where most educated people agree that the punctuation is wrong, there are others where it is a matter of taste. Although my approach is to assess what punctuation bests aids the comprehension of the sentence in reading silently or aloud, I am biased by my education and experience.

My Opinion

I find 2 much preferable. This is because of the function of the word or in the sentence, which is to link two alternative ideas — the past (has) and the future (will). In speaking the sentence I would say “ever has or ever will” without pausing. A comma would instruct me to pause for no apparent reason (unless I was an orator, pausing for effect, in which case I would probably use an em dash).

The original sentence you refer to with “or ever will” within commas is not a model for the second as the commas in the original sentence indicate (to me) that the future possibility is an aside. You could quite validly leave out the first comma there if this was not the intent. (The second comma remains because it separates the first idea from the second.)

Postscript

Having made my argument I would point out its implication. The most appropriate (I don’t say correct) use of commas here depends on the meaning you wish to convey. “ever will” an aside or afterthought or does it have the same weight as “ever will”?

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Both of your examples sentences are acceptable and understandable. The biggest difference between them is in how they are read; the comma in the first one changes the inflection of the sentence.

I would read your first sentence as having more gravitas, because you pause before "...or ever will". The second sentence, having no pause, sounds more rushed and matter-of-fact.

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