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In the following sentence, can commas be left out?

Latin, still taught in many parts of the world, is a dead language.

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You shouldn't leave out the commas. It would make the sentence harder to understand. The phrase "still taught ..." is an addition. You should separate it from the rest of of the sentence. Instead of using commas you could choose to use brackets () or dashes — —.

In speech you would use intonation to separate the phrase.

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I would not remove the commas in that sentence as it stands. It would become a run on sentence by combining too many verbs.

I'd reform the sentence rather than just dropping the commas. Something like "Latin is a dead language but is still taught in many schools."

Commas should be thought of as breaks in speech. If you read your sentence aloud, only stopping for punctuation, then you can get a better sense of where you should be putting periods and commas.

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Commas are not there to decorate, or to confound you - they are there to help the reader both to read the sentence easily, with pauses in the places that you intend - and also, they help to divide up logical clauses or 'chunks of meaning' in the sentence - again, so that your words may be easily understood.

Imagine reading the following in a monotone - with no pauses:

  • Latin still taught in many parts of the world is a dead language.

Try reading it aloud now. How does it sound?

Isn't it hard to understand? Don't you wonder "what is 'Latin still taught'?"

How easy is it to discern the relative clauses? What are the clauses?

Is: 'parts of the world is a dead language' a clause?

Is: 'Latin still taught in many parts of the world' a clause?

Think about - where you want the pauses to be - and - what separates the clauses?

What you already have is perfectly clear:

Latin (pause) still taught in many parts of the world (pause) is a dead language. (stop)

So:

"Latin, still taught in many parts of the world, is a dead language."

...is easy to read, it's easy to hear the clauses - and thus, also easy to get the meaning.

You don't have to pay for the commas you use, and they are not going to run out - so why not use as many as you want and need?

I would leave it as is.

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