According to grammarly,

You should put a comma before but only when but is connecting two independent clauses.

Then, I am wondering how this example sentence from Longman dictionary could be correct:

I’d like to go but I’m too busy.

It has no comma before but.

  • 4
    There's also the length of the clauses to consider. Commas are sometimes left off for short clauses.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 10, 2017 at 10:10

3 Answers 3


I would say that it is wise to remember that the comma is a way of representing a pause, that the speaker makes, whilst talking.

In this case, as Lawrence points out in his comment, the clauses are rather short, and so there is no real need for the speaker to pause, to take a breath, or emphasise the first clause. Therefore, in this case, and other cases with short clauses, the comma can be omitted.

However, it should be noted that, one could still use a comma (in reported speech), if desired, in order to provide emphasis, by pausing, in order to allow the meaning, or significance, of the first clause to sink in to the listener.

That is to say, if the speaker, who is an invitee, was trying to avoid offending the listener, who could be the inviter, by refusing the invitation, pausing after the "I'd like to go" gives the impression that the speaker has a desire to participate (even if they don't really want to), before stating why they can't.

  • 1
    Your entire answer is a grammatical nightmare. So many superfluous commas and so many missing commas. They seem to be scattered around with no pattern whatsoever. To add to that, the message of your answer is beyond unconvincing. I'd suggest either deleting or rewriting your answer.
    – Max
    Oct 29, 2017 at 16:19

I am of old school being now 72 years old. I was taught in English that if and or but is to be used there is no need for punctuation. If you must use punctuation here, you may need to rephrase your sentences.

Many use but today in place of however. Yet (another good word to use in place of but) if you must use punctuation, often cutting out but or and still makes sense. Much of the problem is that many poor writers write as they speak. In this case we are unable to see punctuation, hence are unable to criticise it. This often occurs in early writings: The Bible, for example, was written without punctuation. Hence you often will see sentences starting with And.


It is not technically correct. The reason the comma was omitted is that the clause is short enough for confusion not to arise if the comma were not there. As this Wikipedia section discusses, "such guides [that recommend putting a comma to separate clauses] permit the comma to be omitted if the second independent clause is very short", and the clause "I'm too busy" definitely falls into that category (short clauses). While it is always better to set off an independent clause from a dependent clause with a comma, if you feel the comma may be superfluous to the text and makes it more challenging to read for the audience, you may just as well get rid of it - as many writers usually do.

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