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Is the comma in the following sentence needed or should it be removed?

Do you get the same thing every time you visit us, or do you like to switch it up?

I keep thinking it should be:

Do you get the same thing every time you visit us or do you like to switch it up?

My reasoning is because "do you like to switch it up" is a dependent clause that relies on "Do you get the same thing every time you visit us" to make sense and be a complete thought.

Any insight on this would be super helpful; I'm kinda confused on why it's even right or wrong -- or if I'm wrong in my thinking! - and I'd love to be able to find out why this is bugging me so much!

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I myself would use a comma there, but like all stylistic choices, comma placement is primarily a matter of opinion and convention.

This is not a dependent clause but an independent one. Because this is a coordinating conjunction joining two independent clauses, many writers will use a comma before that conjunction, especially when the clauses are long ones.

Indeed, you can find style guides proclaiming that commas in this circumstance are “mandatory” ones. But then they’ll waffle a little and go exempting short sentences from this guidance.

All these are perfectly possible punctuation choices:

  1. Do you want the fish or do you want the beef?
  2. Do you want the fish, or do you want the beef?
  3. Do you want the fish — or do you want the beef?
  4. Do you want the fish? Or do you want the beef?

It is up to the writer to choose whichever of those best conveys the intended intonation and cadence.

  • @MaxLillard if you feel that tchrist's answer is the right/best one for your question you can accept it as such by selecting the check mark. Totally up to you of course and by no means mandatory. Just thought I'd mention. – Peter Feb 12 '17 at 3:54

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