Do I need to put a comma at this (highlighted) position? Why? Why not?

In a sub-picosecond range, this radical is transformed into hydroxyl radical...

My collaborator from USA insists on putting in it. As for me, no comma should be there, since the sentence becomes divided. I tried to find a rule for this case, but it was not very convincing, saying that there are two cases with and without comma.

  • 1
    I would say that the comma isn't strictly necessary but it does aid comprehension, and so you should use it. – Max Williams Sep 14 '17 at 7:55
  • You should, that comma belongs there. – doubleOrt Sep 14 '17 at 9:41
  • @Taurus, is there a strict rule for such cases? As I said below, being a Russian, I do not fill it, so the rule might help me. For me it is one sentence with one idea, so I do not need any stops while reading. I've put this comma back, since english-speakers are telling me to do so. – saldenisov Sep 15 '17 at 7:21
  • @saldenisov I am not a native English speaker either, but in my opinion, a comma doesn't exactly divide a sentence, that is what a period "." or a semicolon ";" does; a comma is just a very short pause, in actual speech, i would use it to play with the audience's attention (e.g in your sentence i would use it to give some extra focus to the first part: in a sub-picosecond range). – doubleOrt Sep 15 '17 at 12:20

In my opinion your collaborator is absolutely right. Punctuation is very important, it is like breathing. Of course the sentence is correct also without, but putting a comma helps the reader to breathe and wait for the second part of it. In a technical reading this is maybe less important, because you are concentrated on other things, but in a novel or in a newspaper the wrong use, or the non use of the punctuation is very bad. Let me also say that a "stupid" comma is so important that can change the whole meaning of the sentence, as the famous phrase attributed to the oracles of Dodona:


that you may find also in the form

"Ibis et redibis non morieris" in bello. Depending on the position of the comma, the response changes completely.

  • I would not use breathe at this point, I would say all phrase in one breath, because only one idea is expressed. Maybe because I'm Russian, in Russian I will not put it there. Thanks for you help. – saldenisov Sep 15 '17 at 7:17
  • @ealy a comma shouldn't be long enough to allow you to breathe, a semicolon perhaps (though i usually find myself using commas instead). – doubleOrt Sep 15 '17 at 12:25

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