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I was taught that there shouldn't be any commas before or after prepositions. Why is that in some sentences such as sentence 1 below, a comma before "of" is permitted?

Detective Polly found that, of the hundreds of cases of malaria near the river, all but three involved near the contaminated pump.

Or for sentence 2, why do we have to have a comma between "program" and "from"?

They now operate from 12 to 2pm, and the government funds every aspect of the program, from the jerseys to the coaches.

Or for this sentence...why is that we can't have a comma between "VP" and "about"?

I signaled to the VP about the wrinkle on his tie.

  • ""involved near the contaminated pump" makes no sense. – KarlG Jan 5 '18 at 6:31
  • near is accidentally repeated there. I missed the repetition myself when cutting and pasting from the OP's question. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 5 '18 at 12:57
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Detective Polly found that, of the hundreds of cases of malaria near the river, all but three involved near the contaminated pump.

... because "of the hundreds of cases of malaria near the river" has been moved out its natural position as part of the subject of "involved", to a more visible position; here is the natural version:

Detective Polly found that all but three of the hundreds of cases of malaria near the river involved the contaminated pump.

And with the next sentence:

They now operate from 12 to 2pm, and the government funds every aspect of the program, from the jerseys to the coaches.

... because "from the jerseys to the coaches" is merely an afterthought, an adjunct, extra information extending the idea of "every aspect". An em-dash could be used there instead of a comma.

And with the next sentence:

signaled to the VP about the wrinkle on his tie.

... because "about the wrinkle on his tie" is integral to the purpose of the signaling, not merely extra information.

A prepositional phrase introduced by about completes the sense of many verbs, for example:

To signal someone about something...

To tell someone about something...

To question someone about something...

  • Than you. I see. It appears that for sentence 2 and 3, it is more to do with the fact that the clauses are either restrictive or non-restrictive, right? – HeyDoeFarm Jan 5 '18 at 4:57
  • Restrictive/non-restrictive applies to clauses. The prepositional phrase about the wrinkle on his tie is not a clause. And it would be a stretch to say that from the jerseys to the coaches is a clause with ellipsis of BE and subject. An em-dash could be used there instead of a comma. It is extra, not integral, information. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 5 '18 at 12:43
  • what does BE mean? – HeyDoeFarm Jan 6 '18 at 10:33
  • It is the standard way to refer to the verb-to-be irrespective of number and tense. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 6 '18 at 12:54

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