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How would this sentence be written? Would a comma go before "and then" or no?

Without comma:

"Brian stole my phone while I was golfing and then Jacob hit him in the face."

With comma:

"Brian stole my phone while I was golfing, and then Jacob hit him in the face."

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    The decision to include or omit the comma between two independent clauses is entirely the writer's. – P. E. Dant Nov 7 '16 at 21:42
  • As much as I love when you help me, I'm going to have to disagree. Every single source says to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction if an independent clauses follows it. There is actually a rule to this, as far as I know of. I just don't know if one goes before "and" if "then" is added after "and." – Tim Nov 7 '16 at 22:22
  • The comma is up to you. Read this ELU question for starters. The Wikipedia page on commas is instructive: "While many style guides call for commas, many authors omit them, particularly with short sentences." There just are no rules in the sense of "an uncountable noun cannot take the indefinite article." There are scads of "punctuation rules" websites, and no writer pays a whit of attention to any of them, especially where commas are concerned. – P. E. Dant Nov 7 '16 at 22:38
  • Ernest Hemingway wrote: "Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him." Summon the rulebook! – P. E. Dant Nov 7 '16 at 22:45
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    That's actually a comma splice. A run-on sentence is when TWO independent clauses are joined without any piece of punctuation. Example: I went to Tokyo Godzilla was downtown. – Tim Nov 7 '16 at 22:57
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I'll reiterate my answer to your other, very similar question

As in many languages, in English commas represent the pauses that a speaker would include when saying the sentence out loud. In this way it mirrors the natural rhythm of the language -- which of course varies considerably between different dialects and different individuals.

So most rules that seem to require commas before or after certain words or phrases are simply guidelines to help you organize your English sentences. It's a good idea to learn these guidelines, and understand what purpose they serve, but then pay attention to how native speakers talk and write, and develop your own personal style.

It is entirely up to how the author wants the reader to perceive the flow of the sentence, as if it was spoken. If I wish to write a long sentence with a lot of detail and make it sound like I was saying it all in one breath I would omit the comma between two independent clauses.

But, I'm the sort of writer who likes significant pauses, so I don't.

  • Would you also say that the comma is style in the sentence, "Let's go eat Brian"? :/ – Tim Nov 7 '16 at 22:31
  • Also, you need a comma to prevent run-on sentences. This comma rule for when you naturally speak is only a myth. Sure, it might come in handy from time-to-time, but it isn't reliable. – Tim Nov 7 '16 at 22:31
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    You would add a comma, if, when speaking, a pause would change the meaning of the sentence. Say "let's go eat Brian" and "let's go eat, Brian" out loud, and the difference should be self-evident. – Andrew Nov 7 '16 at 22:34
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    @Tim it's perfectly ok to treat the comma before an independent clause as a rule, if that's how you want to write. But your questions ask which form is correct, and I can only respond "both are" – Andrew Nov 7 '16 at 22:45

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