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I wonder how I can place proper comma for this short phrase below. The problem starts when I add the word "thus" to this short phrase which needs comma almost always in written formal style.

It exploits the knowledge of the problem to create new and thus better solutions from the combination of existing ones.

I would appreciate any help over here.

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    I see no need for a comma. – Hot Licks May 11 '17 at 11:14
  • Please rewrite your title so that it is a question, not a statement. Shouldn't you be asking on English Language Learners, anyway? – David May 11 '17 at 12:00
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    It appears that somebody at some time told you "thus always needs a comma in formal writing". This advice was incorrect (it might have been correct if they'd said usually). Ignore it and trust your instincts. – Peter Shor May 11 '17 at 14:02
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    I'd personally use "therefore" for "thus", with no comma. – jimm101 Nov 8 '17 at 22:00
  • I'd go with no comma. – Xanne Nov 9 '17 at 9:28
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Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, second edition (2003), offers a succinct and reasonable discussion of thus in its various senses from an American perspective:

thus. A. General Senses. Thus has four meanings: (1) in this or that manner {one does it thus}; (2) so {thus far}; (3) hence, consequently; and (4) as an example. In senses 3 and 4, thus, when it begins a clause, should usually have a comma after it.

The sentence that you ask about—

It exploits the knowledge of the problem to create new and thus better solutions from the combination of existing ones.

—uses thus in Garner's sense 3, as an equivalent of hence, consequently, or therefore. But instead of appearing at the beginning of a major clause, it appears in the midst of the phrase "new and better," where both new and better are adjectives modifying the same noun (solutions); in such a position, Garner implies, thus should not have a comma after it. According to Garner's analysis, the case would be different if the sentence read as follows:

Thus, it exploits the knowledge of the problem to create new and better solutions from the combination of existing ones.

Of course, the meaning of that sentence differs significantly from the meaning of the sentence that you ask about. But while we're on the subject of meaning, I must echo the observation in ugajin's answer that including thus in your original sentence makes sense only if you truly intend to say that, simply by virtue of being new, new solutions are better than older ones; as a matter of logic, that's a problematic assertion to make, since it's easy to imagine new attempted solutions that turn out to be worse than the status quo.

In my view, whether a comma is appropriate after thus even at the beginning of a clause is ultimately a matter of style preference; but I agree with Garner's implicit view that, when thus appears in the middle of a clause, it normally does better without a comma.

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You need to be able to separate the parenthetical phrase from the rest of the sentence so that the remainder is still a complete sentence. In the above example the parenthetical needs to be "and thus better" leaving the original sentence to read "to create new solutions"

so it would read, "to create new, and thus better, solutions" - you would also have the option of using dashes instead of commas. "to create new--and thus better--solutions

some would go as far as to say "thus" is a parenthetical phrase within the parenthetical phrase, and should have commas around it too. "to create new, and, thus, better, solutions" but that is just a little over the top in my opinion. The goal should not be mechanics but readability.

  • I think any use of punctuation within this particular sentence is purely a matter of style. I wouldn't add commas or dashes at all, but if I was pushed, I would write "to create new and, thus, better solutions". I normally wouldn't put a comma before and, since it's joining two adjectives - but if it was for a formal speech and I wanted to specify a deliberate pause, I might use either structure in your second paragraph. – Chappo Says SE Dudded Monica Nov 3 '18 at 3:34
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There are problems here, which are not dependent on the use and/or omission of a comma. E.g. “new and thus better” implies new is necessarily better, which may be what you intend, even if it is incorrect, and something of a tautology. Another issue may arise from the use of the pro-noun “It”. What does “It” substitute? If “It” is a substitute for “new and thus better solutions” (sic), then in addition the singular/plural issue, the sentence structure becomes recursive.

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    "It" obviously is not a substitute for "new and thus better solutions." That makes no sense even with context removed. I do agree that "thus" doesn't belong in that sentence, but that's an objection to the sentiment and not to the structure. In any case, there's no comma needed. – tobybot May 11 '17 at 15:10
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    @tobybot I do not presume what is obvious to others. Perhaps Sajjad will explain what is intended. – ugajin May 13 '17 at 11:44
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"It exploits the knowledge of the problem to create new and thus better solutions from the combination of existing ones."

The OP is a bit confused with the structure. The question is not about whether thus always needs a comma after it.

In the given sentence, and thus is parenthetical.

"It exploits the knowledge of the problem to create new solutions from the combination of existing ones." -- That is the basic sentence.

Add "and thus" without changing the meaning or structure of the original:
"It exploits the knowledge of the problem to create new and thus better solutions from the combination of existing ones." -- that is, they are better because they are new.

Every parenthetical needs to be delimited:
"It exploits the knowledge of the problem to create new, and thus, better solutions from the combination of existing ones."

Notice that the commas are on both sides of the phrase "and thus" and are required punctuation.

Pedants will object to a comma before and without realizing the context is different here.
"It exploits the knowledge of the problem to create new and thus, better solutions from the combination of existing ones."

HTH.

As for the question of comma after thus, so, therefore, hence, etc., just google it. Good Luck.

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