+0
Sir,

The orchestra rehearses on Tuesday, but the chorus rehearses on Wednesday.

There is a comma before the word "but".Sometimes it is not used. this is a very confusing.

Can you please clear it,when should I use comma and when no comma.

Thanks.
1 2 3 4
Comments  (Page 3) 
Hi,

With that approach, how would you know where to pause if you said a sentence that was not first written down?

Clive
I believe that you meant to say dependent rather than independent.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Should I put a comma in front of the work but if I am writing this sentence.

No, I have not heard of this program, but I most definately am interested in learning about it.
Yes to the comma.

No, I have not heard of this program, but I most definitely am interested in learning about it.
Hi Clive,

If you were saying a sentence that you had not already seen written down, that would be in one of two situations, as far as I can tell; Firstly, if you were using reported speech (that is to say, you were relaying somebody else's words). In this case, you would copy the phrasing of the person who you were quoting. The second instance would be if you were just saying something that you thought. In this case, I think we can presume that you would know the meaning you were trying to get across, and for this reason, you would pause wherever you needed to in order to convey your message. When reading someone else's sentence, we do not first know what they want to convey. Therefore, commas are a helpful indicator of how to phrase said sentence.

Defining vs non-defining relative clauses are a good example (well, best I can think of at the moment!):
  • My sister who lives in Italy, works as a cook. (who lives in Italy defines the sister I am talking about. It can therefore be presumed that I have more than one sister)
  • My sister, who lives in Italy, works as a cook. (who lives in Italy is extra info so we cannot tell from this sentence whether I have one sister or more)
I am no expert on commas. I love grammar and I taught advanced English for a while, but it is true to say that, while there are hard and fast rules for somethings (like relative clauses), the "serial comma" (using a comma before 'and' in a list or between non-independent clauses), as well as things like puncuating inside or outside of speech marks, are areas of debate that go on and on (...and on!!!).

So, that is my little piece on the matter. I love how worked up grammar gets people! At the end of the day, if we could just get people spelling the correct kind of "there/they're/their" and "your/you're" and using "have" as an auxilary instead of "of", I feel this might be a good start...

Happy punctuating ;o)
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Hi,

You said You would pause wherever you needed to in order to convey your message. Yes, I agree completely.

Let's discuss your examples of defining vs non-defining relative clauses in terms of pauses

Defining My sister who lives in Italy works as a cook. This is normally said without pausing at all. The lack of pauses shows that the information 'who lives in Italy' is closely connected to the phrase 'my sister'. In other words, it defines which sister.
Such a sentence does not normally pause like this: 'My sister who lives in Italy, works as a cook.' for the same reason that you would not pause if you say eg 'Tom, lives in Italy'.

Non-defining My sister, who lives in Italy, works as a cook. The pauses here serve to tell the listener that the information
'who lives in Italy' is just parenthetical and not of real great importance t the main idea.

Clive
Hmm, this seems to be a bit contentious!

I've just been trying to help user Snarf with the same question on a different thread:

http://www.EnglishForward.com/English/AConfusingButComma/bdvkbv/post.htm#sc1693058

He gave two good examples:

Snarf> He starts grabbing him by the neck with his
Snarf> powerful jaws, but not viciously enough to
Snarf> kill him, for that is not his intention.

and

Snarf> He is speechless, but only momentarily.

He said:

Snarf> I'm trying to stay away from putting commas before
Snarf> "but" when not starting off an independent clause,
Snarf> and I'm not sure whether "but" is starting one off
Snarf> there or not, plus there are always exceptions to
Snarf> the rule, anyway. I just want to know what's best,
Snarf> a pause there or not, if not, I'll omit the comma.

I replied:

Kris> In both of those cases, I would definitely use a comma
Kris> before the but. It does not sound natural without a pause.

He responded:

Snarf> Do you consider them to be examples of exceptions to
Snarf> the rule, then?

I replied:

Kris> I don't think there is a rule that says you should try
Kris> to avoid putting a comma before but. There are some
Kris> cases where a comma is not needed, and may be better
Kris> omitted. I think this occurs when the whole sentence,
Kris> especially the part after but, is short and simple.
Kris> Here's a good example:
Kris> Grammar is boring but necessary.
Kris> That could be written, and spoken, with or without a comma before but.
In case anyone's interested, after some web "research" I've formulated my take on "comma before but":

Generally, as stated earlier on this thread and elsewhere:

1. If the part of the sentence that follows but is an independent clause, use a comma before but.
2. If the part of the sentence that follows but is not an independent clause, the comma may be (and often should be) omitted.

However:

3. The comma is sometimes natural even when the second part of the sentence is not an independent clause: "He is speechless, but only momentarily."

4. There may be cases when the second clause is independent but the comma can be omitted and the sentence still scans correctly: "It's true but it sucks".

5. It comes down to how you would say the sentence - with or without a pause before but.

I think this is the right answer - at least to my mind. It may be slightly different in different countries. (I'm a New Zealander.)
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
A similar question was just asked on another thread: http://www.EnglishForward.com/English/RandomCommaQuestion/bdvlkw/post.htm

That question contains a good example, from the Silmarillion by Tolkien:

"By the arts of Felagund their own forms and faces were changed into the likeness of Orcs; and thus disguised they came far upon their northward road, and ventured into the wester pass, between Ered Wethrin and the highlands of Taur-nu-Fuin."

This is another exception to the general rule. The clauses are not independent, yet a comma has been used.

I think this is because the author wants to insert a falling inflection (but not as deep as the falling inflection created by a period), and a short pause. In this case, I think it's because he wants to convey the step-by-step nature of the travel of these characters.

Another possible reason that the comma seems appropriate could be that the clause following the comma is almost independent; the only word that would have to be added to that clause to make it independent is they.
Show more