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I read an article online, and the article has the following sentence.

I love the city and I have a special fondness for the people of Lafayette

How come the writer did not separate the two sentences with a comma between (city & and)? Also at work I see a lot of of my colleagues write with a similar style. Is there a reason for writing in that style, or is it just grammatically incorrect? Please advise.

  • It is merely a compound sentence. It could have been written without the second I. – Lambie Jan 18 '17 at 18:05
  • A ferocious adherent of Warriner might insist that a comma separate the two independent clauses of a compound sentence, but it's often omitted when the clauses are brief as these are. – Rob_Ster Jan 18 '17 at 18:27
  • @Rob_Ster Is Warriner famously prescriptive across the board? – Edwin Ashworth Jan 20 '17 at 9:24
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    @EdwinAshworth - I would say so, although "across the board" cuts a pretty wide swath. It was a venerable text when I started teaching four decades ago. It still serves - as I confess I sometimes do - as combination of authority and historical curiosity. Warriner takes few prisoners, rendering unequivocal rulings on quite a range of fundamental issues. Cheers! – Rob_Ster Jan 20 '17 at 13:11
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I agree with Edwin.

I am fully convinced that all writing 'rules' are there to serve one main golden rule, which is 'do not confuse the reader'. That rule trumps all other rules that conflict with it.

So if one questions whether the comma belongs, what one should not do is knee-jerk to the subordinate 'one-size-fits-all' rule of 'always use a comma there', but regard it by whether it would be confusing to the reader or not. IOW, you can safely eliminate the comma as long as it does not cause confusion.

And no one on earth would be confused by 'I love the city and I …' as everyone knows instantly that the second 'I' will refer to something upcoming and not what the person 'loves'. No reader is that dense, so there is no danger of confusion whatsoever there, meaning the comma is not needed, would be redundant, and would make the sentence more awkward rather than clearer.

I do think one may need a second reason, which may be that omitting the comma may be in the interest of flow. An author may want something to flow quicker or better, and the comma then may be a speed-bump rather than a clarifier. If clarity is not in question and flow is the goal, omitting the comma works just fine.

After all, what is a comma for? It has no 'meaning' the way a word or a letter does, because it is only a little mark. The comma has no intrinsic meaning. It is there only as, and precisely as, something to clarify what is written.

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Although Rob's comment is correct--two short independent clauses joined by a conjunction sometimes omits a comma--it is sloppy and risks upsetting somebody. However, what's worse in your example is it creates ambiguity in the reading frame as follows

I love the city and I

Of course this isn't grammatically correct either, but the writer doesn't want the reader to have to re-read for clarity. So your qiestion's answer is No, it's not "necessary" but make sure your sentence's meaning remains clear and concise.

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    I don't accept that it's always sloppy. A comma is sometimes an intrusion. Writingcommons.org gives better advice: 'You do not need to place a comma between two independent clauses [joined by a coordinator] if they are short and similar in meaning, provided that no misunderstanding will take place.' – Edwin Ashworth Jan 20 '17 at 9:30

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