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In Australian/British English, would a comma be placed between the words panic and knowing? I am horrible at grammar!

“Yet, now, when I trudge in, the picture of the next thirteen hours delivers a palpable panic knowing that my self-imposed isolation is for naught; like Pius, I’ve played the game, but I’ve lost instead.”

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The addition of the word "knowing" between "panic" and "that" indicates that the following clause (my self-imposed isolation is for naught) is non-restrictive, so a comma is required. This is because - as the sentence is currently worded - the important fact is the panic, not what causes it, and the meaning of the sentence would not be materially changed by excising "knowing that my self-imposed isolation is for naught".

Without a comma, you would need to make the clause restrictive/essential, by either removing the word "knowing", or adding the word "from" before it - thus shifting the importance from the panic to the cause.

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The whole point of writing is to communicate. Punctuation is one of the mechanisms that writers use to help the reader parse the material.

I suggest that you read the material aloud. If you pause after "panic" (I did), then a comma would be the way that the writer indicates a pause. However, I was able to follow the meaning without the comma. As with most rules of grammar, there is no one absolute way to punctuate this sentence. Commas are cheap and easy to use. Go for the comma.

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I find the sentence awkward. I had to read it twice. The participle "knowing" is the problem - it has no clear subject and I don't think any amount of punctuation will solve it.

“Yet, now, when I trudge in, the picture of the next thirteen hours delivers a palpable panic - I know that my self-imposed isolation is for naught; like Pius, I’ve played the game, but I’ve lost instead.”

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  • That awkwardness probably comes from the fact that it's a monologue. I needed to make the sentence flow in a way that gave me the best structure for expression. Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 21:04

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