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In the President's letter to Kim Jong Un, I noticed a comma which confused me :

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters.

The first comma, to me, appears to be, potentially, a comma splice :

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, ultimately it is only that dialogue that matters.

But the 'and' gets in the way of that.

What confuses me is the emphasis, particularly if I speak the sentence.

I would have expected either :

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me; and, ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters.

or

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me. Ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters.

I feel, myself, that the punctuation used is less powerful than the wording deserves.

Am I wrong ?

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    (1) There is no comma splice; a comma before 'and' introducing a second independent clause is normal though often optional. (2) The second comma here is totally acceptable, but again optional. May 25, 2018 at 12:50
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    And no one mentions how it uses the nominally correct 'between you and me'?
    – Mitch
    May 25, 2018 at 13:43
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    Related: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/167425/…
    – user 66974
    May 25, 2018 at 13:59
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    @NigelJ Thanks. But 'disrespect'? And 'disrespect the person'? How does naming or not entail disrespect?
    – Mitch
    May 25, 2018 at 15:53
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    How is the tag "trumpism" relevant? It reads: "for questions that specifically ask about the meaning, or the origin of expressions, attributed to or used by Donald Trump." That's not what the question is about. May 25, 2018 at 16:09

1 Answer 1

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The letter combines two independent clauses, the second of which begins with an adverb:

Ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters.

The comma before the and is the standard comma before a coordinating conjunction joining independent clauses. The second preserves the comma before the initial adverb.

I didn’t find this punctuation remarkable or confusing. The Writing Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests, however, if there is a chance of ambiguity,

When either independent clause in a compound sentence contains a comma to set off introductory or non-essential elements, a reader may be confused by a comma before a coordinating conjunction. In this case, a semicolon may replace the comma.

The figures at elite universities, particularly, are enough to cause sticker shock; yet the current increases at many schools are the lowest in a decade.

Note a writer may choose a semicolon, but it is not obligatory.

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