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I need your help on how best to write this sentence:

The results show that the developed methods(,) on average(,) lead to 10% less costs.

Do I need the commas before and after on average?

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1 Answer 1

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As broad guidance, the normal place for a prepositional modifier is {S + V [+ O] + modifier} and this construction does not require a comma.

“… that the developed methods lead to 10% less costs on average.”

Other positions may be correctly adopted for emphasis, but these all do require commas:

“… that, on average, the developed methods lead to 10% less costs.”

“… that the developed methods, on average, lead to 10% less costs.”

“… that the developed methods lead, on average, to 10% less costs.”

“… that the developed methods lead to 10%, on average, less costs.”

PS I would use lower costs rather than “less costs

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  • Thanks Greybeard for your answer. Can I use 'less costs' instead of 'lower costs' or is 'less costs' a mistake?
    – PeterBe
    Apr 18, 2020 at 8:14
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    "Less costs" is not idiomatic - it sounds awkward - it would make the reader stumble. There are several ways of expressing the idea but "less costs" is not one of them.
    – Greybeard
    Apr 18, 2020 at 10:19
  • Thanks Greybeard for your answer. What about "less surplus energy" or "In periods with less PV generation"? Would you also use 'lower' in these examples?
    – PeterBe
    Apr 18, 2020 at 10:32
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    You must realise that English is heavily dependent upon context. There is no point in giving short phrases as examples as it is impossible to respond accurately. I think that you might need to add more new questions.
    – Greybeard
    Apr 18, 2020 at 10:57
  • Okay thanks. Then I am going to add more questions. But thanks for the answer to the original question with the commas (I accepted it)
    – PeterBe
    Apr 18, 2020 at 11:05

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