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In production, these files should already exist.

I was trying to explain to a non-native English speaker that this sentence needed the comma after production, but when trying to explain the grammar as to why, I realized it was only a feeling I had. When I looked it up, I found this link, which says if a prepositional phrase is less than four words at the beginning, then it does not need a comma.

So, just to clarify, does this need a comma? And what is the reasoning behind the answer?

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I have a different explanation. The natural order of the phrase is "These files should already exist in production". So if you take "in production" and place it in the beggining of the phrase, you should use a comma.

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  • Perfect! That was my initial explanation, but I figured there might be a rule I could link him to. My initial response was: I don't know the name of the rule, but because it can also go at the end of the sentence without changing its structure I believe: These files should already exist in production. Jul 19, 2017 at 13:18
  • I'll try to find it and I'll edit the answer.
    – Mr. Mister
    Jul 19, 2017 at 13:40
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    @NightHallow You won't find any "rules" where the comma is concerned. There are guidelines, though, and except for the quagmire of the Oxford comma, they're all reliable. Here's the APA version. Jul 19, 2017 at 22:56

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