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My question deals specifically with this example:

I was extremely excited, so it was hard for me even to grab the doorknob and turn it—I kept on missing and my hand was shaking, you see—but once I finally got that done, I flung the door open and scurried outside.

Should there be a comma after missing so that it looks like the following?

I was extremely excited, so it was hard for me even to grab the doorknob and turn it—I kept on missing, and my hand was shaking, you see—but once I finally got that done, I flung the door open and scurried outside.

Thanks!

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A comma can serve a grammatical purpose in that the same words with a comma can have a different meaning to those words without a comma. In this example, a comma would not have any grammatical meaning, it would only signify a pause if those words were read aloud. How would you say those words? If you would pause after 'missing' then put in the comma, if not, then not.

  • To make sure I understand, what if the two independent clauses were their own sentence? In other words, what about the following sentence: "I kept on missing, and my hand was shaking." Is the comma necessary here as well, or does it just depend on whether there should be a pause when read aloud? Thanks! – The Editor Jun 17 at 16:08
  • In that example the only function that a comma might have would indeed be to signal a pause. If I were reading that sentence aloud in isolation, I would certainly insert a pause. In context there might be reasons for not pausing particularly at that point. – JeremyC Jun 18 at 8:26
  • Okay, I thought two independent clauses separated by and would always require a comma, but looking it over, I did find that this source mentions an exception: grammar.com/commas-and-independent-clauses. Does the example I gave fall under this article's exception, being the reason the comma is unnecessary? – The Editor Jun 19 at 19:59
  • It all depends on how you wish the reader to perceive the ideas in what you write. That in turn depends very much on the context, which is why I used the words 'in isolation' when I said that I would insert a comma. With or without the comma your sentence makes perfect sense; we are talking here about nuances of meaning that you, the writer, may not care about or the reader be interested in. – JeremyC Jun 19 at 22:00
  • In general, whether or not you put a comma between two independent clauses isn't merely a matter of style but a rule, as the article I mentioned discusses: grammar.com/commas-and-independent-clauses. However, it does give an exception. Since both clauses are short (and followed by a comma with "you see"), I'll probably omit the comma after all. Thanks for your time! – The Editor Jun 21 at 15:52

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