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Hello Teachers,

I often struggle when to use a comma before the word 'as'. In the following sentence, shall we add comma after 'track' and before 'as'? What is the common rule for this?

Related storms also caused extensive damage and killed horses at a Kentucky race track as a line of severe thunderstorms crossed the area.

Thanks in advance,
Contributing Member1,772
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Hi,

Related storms also caused extensive damage and killed horses at a Kentucky race track as a line of severe thunderstorms crossed the area.

A comma reduces the causal bond. Consider 'He died as lightning struck' compared to 'He died, as lightning struck'. The former suggests the lightning was the cause, the latter doesn't as much. However, things are not always clear. Is there causality in your example? Was it the line of storms that were responsible for the damage and deaths? From your sentence, I don't know.

Here's another thought. If the 'as' clause is long, consider adding a comma if it will make the meaning easier to see.

Here, I'd say you could add a comma ... or not. I wouldn't.

Best wishes, Clive
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Clive
Hi,

Here, I'd say you could add a comma ... or not. I wouldn't.

Best wishes, Clive
I wouldn't either. Nor would I say one would be o.k., based on your excellent explanation.
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Hi Clive,

Thanks for your response. The line of thunderstorms were responsible for the damage and deaths.
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Hi Krish,

Related storms also caused extensive damage and killed horses at a Kentucky race track as a line of severe thunderstorms crossed the area.

I think the phrase 'related storms' is a bit unclear. related to what? To each other? To the 'line of severe thunderstorms? Better to say something like

A line of severe and related thunderstorms crossed the area, causing extensive damage and killing horses at a Kentucky race track.

Clive
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Hi Clive,

What is the meaning of the latter sentence--He died, as lightning struck? Would you please provide a couple of more examples with and without a comma before 'as'?
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Hi,

He died, as lightning struck I'd take this to mean that lightning struck at the same time as he died. However, it doesn't tell me that it was the lightning that killed him.

She smiled as she saw him versus She smiled, as she saw him.

Stock prices went up as the USA invaded Iraq versus Stock prices went up, as the USA invaded Iraq.

In these examples, the comma weakens the causal bond of the second clause.

Best wishes, Clive
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Anonymous:
Clive

Your explanation is clear.

However, another person, whose hobby is puntuation, claims it is the opposite. She cited a list references, listed below, to which I do not have access.

Do you have a reference for your explanation?

Interested Writer

The Cambridge Guide to English Usage
© Cambridge University Press 2004

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition
© The University of Chicago 2003

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition (Strunk & White)
© Macmillan Publishing Co, Inc. 1972

Fowler's Modern English Usage, Revised Third Edition
© Oxford University Press, Inc. 2000

Merriam-Webster's Manual for Writers & Editors
© Merriam-Webster Incorporated 1998

The New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage
© The New York Public Library and The Stonesong Press 1994

Chambers Perfect Punctuation
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. 2005

Chambers Effective Grammar
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. 2005
Anonymous:
Related storms also caused extensive damage and killed horses at a Kentucky race track, as a line of severe thunderstorms crossed the area.
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