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I always thought when we use the dependent clause after the main clause, we don't need a comma before the subordinating conjunction for example,

I always sneaked into the movies to see an R-rated although my parents never would've approved.

till I came across this sentence,

They kept the family farm, no matter how unprofitable it became.

The website says it's because the information remains true, no matter what you add in the subordinate clause.

I seem to fail to understand how you can add some information that make the comma unnecessary. Interestingly the same is true with although.

He kept charging to his card, although his account was overdrawn.

How can I add some information that can change the main clause! Should I say something like,

He kept charging to his card although he didn't!

I don't think so. So what's the trick? What's the point that I'm missing?

  • 1
    "He kept charging his card although he didn't" doesn't make sense.... with or without a comma. – Catija Jan 2 '17 at 18:19
  • @Catija i know. i don understand why it's the right punctuation anyway. when should i avoid using a comma and when not. – Yuri Jan 2 '17 at 18:25
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The truth about commas is that all the rules are just guidelines to help structure your sentences for readability. The purpose of the comma is to simulate the pause that would appear in the sentence if spoken. It's never required but it often helps.

In this case the comma is most frequently used because a speaker would pause before "although" to indicate a change in the direction of the sentence. For example:

I really love a good steak, but my doctor says I have to cut back on eating red meat.

In a similar way, a speaker would pause to separate the things in a list:

Is there anything in the world better than good wine, good friends, and good conversation?

Anyway, the rule you quote is a nice starting guide, but I wouldn't take it as gospel.

  • So according to what you said, it's OK if I ignore it and go without comma in the second quoted sentence and it's actually not different from "They kept the family farm no matter how unprofitable it became." (without a comma). Since generally we don't put comma before subordinating conjunctions, but isn't one of them BTW so your example isn't really accurate. What does this pause imply before although? – Yuri Jan 2 '17 at 19:45
  • my point is in some places you put a comma before although, no matter, etc (i recently learnt that) and in some places before the same words you don't. why do you do this? what's the point? it seems in some places it's recommended some placed not. what are those occasions? – Yuri Jan 2 '17 at 19:57
  • @Yuri Some grammar rules must be followed, but the rules about commas aren't one of them. As far as I know all of them relate to style, and using or not using a comma is about personal preference. In most cases if it helps the flow of the sentence to use a comma, you should use it. "Although" is always used to change the direction of a sentence, so imagine it being spoken out loud: "I love 80s movies ... although I wish they would stop making bad remakes." The more familiar you get with how English is naturally spoken, the more natural the comma will seem to you. – Andrew Jan 2 '17 at 20:03
  • i kept searching and found a site that partially answered the whyness of presence and abscence of a comma before although. you might want to take a look at it. i wonder if the same thing can be applied to no matter. i'll keep searching. Thank you for your time though +1 – Yuri Jan 3 '17 at 1:07
  • @Yuri I hope it helps, but as I said, I'd be careful of any site that tries to come up with "rules" for commas. If you read authors who write in English, there is a wide range of styles -- some who use them frequently, and some who don't use them at all. – Andrew Jan 3 '17 at 2:53
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In both above-mentioned sentences, the subordinate clauses are examples of sheer contrast, therefore a comma is used to clarify the writer's stance.

Example is as follows:

  • She is happy because she has won an Oscar.

  • She is not happy, although she has won an Oscar.

  • My problem is i don't understand where using comma is logical and where it's not I quote from this website(1): "Punctuation with subordinators depends on how essential the added clause is to the overall meaning of the sentence. Does it make all the difference? Or is it only added optional information? Comma for although/whereas. Use a comma when the main sentence is true, no matter what you add. Comma: He kept charging to his card ,although his account was overdrawn. (he kept charging regardless)" – Yuri Mar 23 '17 at 12:31
  • (1) Quoted. My question is when although adds optional information when essential... how should i know?! – Yuri Mar 23 '17 at 12:34

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