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Hi,

I am going to ask about three sentences. I will give you two options to choose from in each instance.

Where I have difficulty is when I have a subordinate clause buried in the middle of the sentence. I will try to elaborate where I have difficulty in each of the three sentences.

*** #***

(original version--my preference)

Mr. Johnston and his son have applied for a patent in the US, and if you believe the documentation, they also have foreign patents.

(modified--correct?)

Mr. Johnston and his son have applied for a patent in the US, and, if you believe the documentation, they also have foreign patents.

Note the additional comma after "and". But if I were to say this sentence out loud, I wouldn't pause after the "and." So, to me, this additional comma doesn't belong. Yet, I want to be correct. Also, the "if you believe the documentation" seems to me to be a restrictive clause, so I don't want to set it off.

*** #***

(original version below)

Analyzing the data reveals public support of conflict, for as environmental issues become a variable, attitudes towards war become more complex.

(modified version)

Analyzing the data reveals public support of conflict, for, as environmental issues become a variable, attitudes towards war become more complex.

Very similar to the Sentence #1.

Where I have specific difficulty is the comma punctuation after the coordinating conjunction leading into the subordinate clause. To my thinking, if the subordinate clause is not long or if you would not pause in your speach at that specific point, then no comma is required.

*** #***

(original version below)

As long as the building can be used for other purposes, the risk to the city is mitigated because should the company fold, the city can sell or lease the building to another third party.

(modified version)

As long as the building can be used for other purposes, the risk to the city is mitigated because, should the company fold, the city can sell or lease the building to another third party.

This sentence follows the same sort of theme. The introductory clause is set off with a comma. The "because clause" is restrictive, so it ought NOT be set off with a comma. To my thinking, the "should the company fold" clause is also restrictive so it too should not be set off with a comma, but the following "the city can selll or lease the building to another third party" should be set off.

I am most appreciative of your throughts as to how I should think about these sentences. Complex sentences like the ones above always cause me a bit of grief.

Thank you.
MountainHiker
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Comments  (Page 3) 
I have to say I like taiwandave's first response. It doesn't necessarily answer the question, but it does provide a reliable solution to the problem. If you split the sentence up you're less likely to be dealing with comma splices and run-on sentences. That's something that I always have problems with, as I did grade 1 in Switzerland, and in German run-on sentences and comma splices are perfectly acceptable.

It isn't necessarily true that you write the way you speak, and pauses aren't the only thing you should rely on when determining whether to use commas. I think a good rule of thumb to use when dealing with commas is if you have to use more than two commas, chances are you can divide the sentence into two complete sentences with only minor changes. You can even do this with only one comma in some situations. That would be the most advisable course of action, unless for some reason it's not an option, as if you can't quite understand what you wrote then chances are the reader won't be able to understand it clearly either. Note: This is obviously the easy way out.

My Grandmother is a professional proof reader, so I'll see if I can get her opinion on this is and if she has a concrete solution. Hopefully I'll get a response within a couple days.
Thank you for enlisting the help of the true experts!

Yes, taiwandave's response of simply breaking up the sentence is always a potential solution. But sometimes, I just want a longer sentence.

I think taiwandave's reference to the Economist Style Guide is very good too.

In any event, I look forward to your post in a couple days' time.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
You may never get this...it has been ages since your post. Still, meet your new best friend: the semi-colon.

Mr. Johnston and his son have applied for a patent in the US; if you believe the documentation, they also have foreign patents.

The semi-colon replaces ", ___" (and, so, because, etc.) it can greatly decrease your chances of a comma splice or a lack of flow.
Anon1Hi,

I am going to ask about three sentences. I will give you two options to choose from in each instance.

Where I have difficulty is when I have a subordinate clause buried in the middle of the sentence. I will try to elaborate where I have difficulty in each of the three sentences.

*** #***

(original version--my preference)

Mr. Johnston and his son have applied for a patent in the US, and if you believe the documentation, they also have foreign patents.

(modified--correct?)

Mr. Johnston and his son have applied for a patent in the US, and, if you believe the documentation, they also have foreign patents.

Note the additional comma after "and". But if I were to say this sentence out loud, I wouldn't pause after the "and." So, to me, this additional comma doesn't belong. Yet, I want to be correct. Also, the "if you believe the documentation" seems to me to be a restrictive clause, so I don't want to set it off.

*** #***

(original version below)

Analyzing the data reveals public support of conflict, for as environmental issues become a variable, attitudes towards war become more complex.

(modified version)

Analyzing the data reveals public support of conflict, for, as environmental issues become a variable, attitudes towards war become more complex.

Very similar to the Sentence #1.

Where I have specific difficulty is the comma punctuation after the coordinating conjunction leading into the subordinate clause. To my thinking, if the subordinate clause is not long or if you would not pause in your speach at that specific point, then no comma is required.

*** #***

(original version below)

As long as the building can be used for other purposes, the risk to the city is mitigated because should the company fold, the city can sell or lease the building to another third party.

(modified version)

As long as the building can be used for other purposes, the risk to the city is mitigated because, should the company fold, the city can sell or lease the building to another third party.

This sentence follows the same sort of theme. The introductory clause is set off with a comma. The "because clause" is restrictive, so it ought NOT be set off with a comma. To my thinking, the "should the company fold" clause is also restrictive so it too should not be set off with a comma, but the following "the city can selll or lease the building to another third party" should be set off.

I am most appreciative of your throughts as to how I should think about these sentences. Complex sentences like the ones above always cause me a bit of grief.

Thank you.
MountainHiker
Punctuation for a dependent clause that follows the conjunction between two coordinate clauses is described in the 12th rev. edition of the Chicago Manual of Style under section 5.30. Clear advice according to open or closed punctuation styles is given.
Redfern
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