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Maybe if he had been given the opportunity to declare his living will, his family would have been able to honor his wishes instead of simply following our directives.

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Maybe if he had been given the opportunity to declare his living will, his family would have been able to honor his wishes, instead of simply following our directives

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    It's totally optional in this sentence. Unless you're reading it aloud and gasping for a breath there. The comma signals a pause in reading, and either reading is fine. Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 10:45
  • I would be more inclined to add a comma after 'Maybe'—to completely break out the phrase 'if he had been given the opportunity to declare his living will'—than to add one before 'instead'. But adding a comma in either place isn't critical for clarity and therefore is a matter of preference, not necessity.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 21:13

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Maybe if he had been given the opportunity to declare his living will, his family would have been able to honor his wishes instead of simply following our directives.

This sentence is correct. You needn’t always use a comma before “instead”.

We sometimes use “instead” as a preposition, and in that case a comma isn’t required. However, when we use “instead” as an adverb and in the beginning of the sentence, the comma is required.

Example:

I love literature. Instead, I opted for computer science.

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  • Please add supporting evidence from say a dictionary. It's fascinating to discover that 'instead' can be used as a preposition. Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 10:42
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    "instead of" is a preposition (per Merriam-Webster); but "instead" is not.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 15:12
  • What If I wanted to write your example as one sentence? Would you then use an em dash before "instead" and come after? Thank you. E.g. "I was going to study litterateur - instead, I opted for computer science."?
    – Confounded
    Commented Feb 22 at 3:07

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