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Can an ostensibly misused comma before a coordinating conjunction actually be a parenthetical comma?


Sally picked apples, and placed them in her basket.

This is considered a misuse of the comma, as the second clause is dependent. It should be

Sally picked apples and placed them in her basket.

or converted into "Sally picked apples, and she placed them in her basket" (the second clause is now independent).

Now consider:

Sally picked apples (and placed them in her basket).

Here the second clause as a parenthetical one, right? So surely you could write, equivalently:

Sally picked apples, and placed them in her basket.

where obviously, you omit replacing the closing bracket with a comma as it's the end of the sentence. What gives?

P.S. I have a feeling that either of

Sally picked apples (placing them in her basket).

Sally picked apples, placing them in her basket.

is a more accurate use of parenthesis, without knowing why.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Nigel J, NVZ, oerkelens, Skooba Jan 27 '18 at 14:31

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    I don't think you are using parentheses correctly. An example usage would be Sally picked apples (some were unripe) and placed them in her basket. – Weather Vane Jan 25 '18 at 19:37
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    In "Sally [picked apples], and [placed them in her basket]", there is no dependent clause, but a coordination of two verb phrases, as bracketed. But I agree that a comma is not required. – BillJ Jan 25 '18 at 19:44
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    Essentially answered at Comma before "and". Whether one's definition of 'parenthetical' encompasses 'and + subject-deleted independent clause' is not really relevant. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 25 '18 at 20:05
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    A compound predicate is not usually treated as a parenthetical, though your << Sally picked apples (and placed them in her basket). >> is obviously an example of a sentence containing a parenthetical and modelled on a compound predicate construction. And using a comma instead of two brackets is normally an acceptable alternative for offsetting. See this article at EnglishForums for further discussion. // The ... – Edwin Ashworth Jan 25 '18 at 20:35
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    bottom line is that the comma is unnecessary, though there are a growing number of writers who consider it perfectly acceptable to use commas 'merely' to signal a pause, where loss of clarity does not ensue. The reason for using the comma would be to separate the consideration of the two actions: to give a feel of some time between them, and/or to add emphasis. This is one of the pragmatic functions of less contentious parenthesising anyway, so terminology is not really a problem. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 25 '18 at 20:48