• $1 with tax
  • $1, with tax

What is the difference in meaning due to the comma? I take the first to be the total is $1 and the second is $1 plus tax.

  • 1
    Difference? They're both poorly constructed. – Hot Licks Jul 20 '18 at 21:58
  • I agree, but it's a work thing so the distinction IS important. – Barbara Jul 20 '18 at 22:02
  • 3
    They're both ambiguous. It should be "$1 plus tax" or "$1 including tax". In either of those the comma is optional. – Hot Licks Jul 20 '18 at 22:11

There is no difference between those. Remember that the real language is spoken: try speaking those aloud and see what it buys you.

No matter the length of the pause that falls between a dollar on one side and with tax on the other, you cannot guarantee that everyone will understand what it is you mean.

Therefore, you should only say things where that doesn’t matter. For example:

  • one dollar before tax
  • one dollar plus tax
  • one dollar after tax
  • one dollar, not including tax
  • one dollar, tax included

Any native speaker should be able to figure out which of those is which — and most non-native speakers, too, I’d imagine.

  • 1
    Bingo for answer but i will say, I disagree with the conclusion from your first 2 prems: when spoken aloud, if you add context. As they are, they are both fragments. "It is one dollar, with tax" (no stress) "It is one dollar with tax" (stress with, and in the case that you stress it -- there would be no comma). I feel that such responses would have dichotomous meanings? – tidbertum Jul 21 '18 at 2:53

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