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I get confused when the following happens:

Graham was angry because Lee burned the toast and Jennifer finished the milk.

Should there be a comma between 'toast' and 'Jennifer'?

The statement Lee burned the toast and the statement Jennifer finished the milk seem like they could function as standalone sentences. From what I have read, anything that functions as a standalone sentence is known as an 'independent clause', and when you separate two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction such as 'and', you need to insert a comma.

However, Graham is angry because both of these things ruined his breakfast, but adding a comma would seem, to me, set off a separate statement which is unrelated to his anger.

Graham was angry because Lee burned the toast

And Jennifer finished the milk

Is the comma always included, never included, or sometimes included (depending on the idea being communicated)?

Thank you so much for reading this!

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  • No need for a comma. Lee burned the toast and Jennifer finished the milk could stand alone as independent clauses, but here they dependents of the preposition "because". More specifically, they are a coordination of declarative clauses functioning as complements of the preposition "because", i.e. they are part of the PP because [Lee burned the toast] and [Jennifer finished the milk].
    – BillJ
    Sep 7, 2017 at 12:56
  • Thank you, Bill. Does PP stand for prepositional phrase?
    – J_G
    Sep 7, 2017 at 13:08
  • Yes, PP stands for 'preposition phrase'.
    – BillJ
    Sep 7, 2017 at 13:14

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