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I learned that the comma is used before a coordinating conjunction that links two independent clauses but in this sentence, one clause is an incomplete sentence, lacking its (obvious) subject. Is this still acceptable or is an exception to the rule?

The students were highly engaged in the revision process, and commented on the benefits of giving and receiving feedback through the system.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, curiousdannii, Mitch, K J, Chappo Jul 16 at 5:28

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  • Possible duplicate of use of commas with conjunction reduction. (See John Lawler's 'comment', where he [and he's a widely published Professor Emeritus of Linguistics] says essentially "Use a comma there if you'd like a pause when you read it.") 'Rules' taught at school are usually approximations to what the true situation is (as regarded by published linguists). Guidelines. Often dangerous to see as universally binding. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 28 at 16:16
  • For the reader, as distinct from someone hearing the sentence read out loud, the possible advantage of the comma is that "...the revision process and..." might appear momentarily to be the beginning of a list, as in "the students were highly engaged in the revision process and the marking scheme...". If the context seems to be open to that risk, then it might be better to write two sentences and so avoid using the potentially troublesome 'and'. – JeremyC Jun 28 at 21:46
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It's a mistake to think that the second part of the sentence is not a complete independent clause. It simply has an elided pronoun that is assumed to exist:

The students were highly engaged in the revision process, and they commented on the benefits of giving and receiving feedback through the system.


Whether or not there has to be a comma there is more a matter of style than strict grammar, but I wouldn't be analyzing this as some kind of violation of a rule because one of the clauses is incomplete. Elision, particularly of this form, is quite common.

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