Based on the following phrase:

Comparing to the state of the art that uses, in general, more than one variable to perform...

Is this correct to put the "in general" between commas?

  • 3
    It's not incorrect, but neither is it correct! It certainly makes the phrase much easier to understand, but there really are very few genuine "rules" regaring the comma. (Compared to is much better than the gerund-participle here.) Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 1:18
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    A example of an incorrect usage in English is: "She are beautiful and brilliant too." There is a rule in English that requires agreement in number between subject and verb. Where the comma is concerned, though, we can write "She is beautiful, and brilliant too", or "She is beautiful and brilliant too", or "She is beautiful, and brilliant, too" and none of them would be "correct" or "incorrect". There are useful guidelines for usage of the comma, but none of them are "rules". In general, we place the comma where we would pause in speech. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 2:34
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    In fairness, I think there are plenty of de facto rules on comma usage that exist because a wide variety of style guides agree on them. And putting a comma where you'd pause in speech is not one of those, by the way.
    – cjl750
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 2:56
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    @P.E.Dant I agree with you completely that nothing about commas is as close to a rule as number agreement is. I just seem to see a lot of answers/comments around the site that mention that there's no hard and fast rules on X but fail to mention what are by now pretty firm guidelines. I am afraid that that leads learners too far in the opposite direction (in this case, that commas are basically made up and we shouldn't really worry about them much). Just want to strike a nice middle ground :)
    – cjl750
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 3:21
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    @cjl750 That's exactly the ground I try to strike. Many learners are victims of "teachers" who tell them: "Too at the end of a sentence must always be separated by a comma from the clause", or some such rubbish. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 3:25

1 Answer 1


That is a good use of commas. It sets off the parathetical phrase "in general" from the rest of the sentence. Round brackets "()" could also be used, to set off the phrase even further. But brackets are not required and would feel to "heavy" for such a short intrusion.

The rest of the sentence has some problems — You could use "compared to" not "comparing". "State of the art" is a abstract noun, so its unclear how it "uses" something, I'd interpret that as "state of the art things use..." but I'm missing some context here.

  • I believe that the ellipsis represents that part of the original sentence is omitted. Are any of your doubts about the "sentence" alleviated by the possibility of more clauses?
    – brainchild
    Commented Jul 29, 2020 at 3:57
  • @epl I'd assume that too, but I would still have problems with "state of the art uses" and The use of "comparing seems incorrect.
    – James K
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 21:33
  • ...many time-sensitive operations, the older system offers little advantage, even considering its lower cost.
    – brainchild
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 16:18

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