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Consider the following sentence, "Skye will become a doctor, and a priest if he finishes theology school."

My understanding is that the comma before the "and" does not follow the rules for comma placement. So that one must re-write the sentence to be:

Skye will become a doctor, and he will become a priest if he finishes theology school.

In the above sentence the "and" is connecting 2 independent clauses and therefore a comma before "and" is justified. Am I correct in saying that only the second sentence is grammatically correct in terms of comma placement?

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  • There is nothing wrong with the original sentence. Replace the comma with a dash. With the comma, it means that (1) Skye will become a doctor. In addition to that, if he finishes theology school, he will also (2) become a priest. It means the same thing as the rephrased version. Jul 4, 2020 at 21:24
  • Almost certainly, if you believe that there are such things as "the rules for comma placement", you have been misinformed about English and punctuation. Many people have tried to publish definitive rules, but they never succeed, because English punctuation is an individual affair, and everybody follows their own rules. So, no, you are not correct in saying that. This is not a terrific comma, but it's perfectly OK. Jul 4, 2020 at 22:23
  • English punctuation follows a speaker's intention, in my opinion.
    – Lambie
    Aug 3, 2020 at 22:23

1 Answer 1

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One (and perhaps the original) usage of the comma is to indicate a pause in speech.

Consider the following:

"Skye will become a doctor [pause] and a priest if he finishes theology school."

versus

"Skye will become a doctor and a priest [pause] if he finishes theology school."

These clearly have different meanings. The [pause] can be replaced by a comma.

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