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Can ANYONE here tell me if commas go between (people and and) and between (surrounding and were) in the following sentence, or not. And can you please give the reason for your answer. Thanks.

"Ever since he first appeared with his black veil on that bright, sunny Sabbath morning to preach as was his usual, the village people and those who lived in the surroundings were both terrified and mystified."

  • They can. If they are used it, would change the meaning. (From essential information to nonessential information.) They certainly don't need to be used. It's a stylistic choice. – Jason Bassford Nov 17 '18 at 21:34
  • With the commas, the enclosed phrase (and those who live in the surroundings) could be removed but the rest of the sentence would be grammatical: the village people were both terrified and mystified. Without the commas, the subject, as you say, is the village people and those who lived in the surroundings. If you remove one comma, you should remove both. – Jason Bassford Nov 18 '18 at 0:08
  • Jason, without changing the wording of the sentence, I think the punctuation below best reflects its intended meaning. Wouldn't you agree? Missing the comma between "preach and as" was the reason for my confusion. "Ever since he first appeared with his black veil on that bright, sunny Sabbath morning to preach, as was his usual, the village people and those who lived in the surroundings were both terrified and mystified." – Jan Nov 18 '18 at 21:32
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In my opinion no and no. The reason is that it's just my opinion. As Jason correctly said, (that comma was optional too) it's just a stylistic choice. A helpful thing is to read your sentence out loud, actually speak it and listen to yourself. Did you naturally put a little pause in any place? Maybe the words felt jumbled, or you needed to take a breath? If so then that place in your sentence needs a comma.

By the way shouldn't there be some other word after 'usual'?

  • I'm sorry Jan you'd have to ask someone trained in formal grammar. I'm just some English guy ;) – Sprog Nov 18 '18 at 1:56

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