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Can I put a comma before 'or' in the following sentence:

Airline work can earn double the salary of factory work, or at least equal

Background:

The rule says you need a comma before a coordinating conjunction: and, but or etc

The rule does not say anything about putting a comma between two non-coordinating conjunctions

'At least equal' is not an independent clause so it's not a coordinating conjunction

Therefore, if I put a comma before 'or' is that incorrect?

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Welcome to EL&U.

Your comma before the 'or' in this case would be incorrect. The clause after the or statement is not independent and can not stand alone as its own sentence

If the statement were rewritten to, "Airline work can earn double the salary of factory work, or at least equal the salary of factory work" the comma would then be acceptable.

Grammarly explains this well: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/comma-before-or/

Commas before “Or” When Beginning an Independent Clause

It is considered good style to place a comma before or when it begins an independent clause. An independent clause is a clause which could stand alone as its own sentence, because it has its own subject and verb.

Didi may want to spend her roulette winnings on that Ferrari she always wanted, or she may go on a luxury vacation. Each of the two clauses here can stand independently. This is why there should be a comma before or.

Didi may want to spend her roulette winnings on that Ferrari she always wanted. She may go on a luxury vacation.

If the clause beginning with or were rewritten to eliminate the subject and verb, it would not be able to stand on its own, and there would be no comma.

Didi may want to spend her roulette winnings on that Ferrari she always wanted, or a luxury vacation. Didi may want to spend her roulette winnings on that Ferrari she always wanted or a luxury vacation. Want to learn more about commas? Check out our guide to comma use.

  • If you just added the word "it", would that make the comma correct? – Barmar Nov 1 at 22:00
  • “or at least equal” is clumsy, and not greatly helped by adding “it”, which converts ‘equal’ from an adjective to a verb. But the issue is one of punctuation. The comma has a proper function. It signals an afterthought, which reins in the first clause. There is a natural pause, legitimately signalled by a comma. – Tuffy Nov 1 at 23:52
  • I would love to know who marks researched answers down without any reason as to why. My answer was related to the question of coordinating conjunctions, as asked, not whether the comma marked a brief pause in the sentence. – GoodJuJu Nov 3 at 20:52

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