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I'm not sure what to do with one of these commas. Which of these sentences is correct?

1) I'm sorry for even asking this, but, unfortunately, it's something that has to be considered.

2) I'm sorry for even asking this, but unfortunately, it's something that has to be considered.

My guess is that the first one is correct, but I'm not sure the comma after "but" is necessary.

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If you're going to use commas for parenthetical information that can be removed, only unfortunately is unessential to the sentence.

This makes sense:

1. I'm sorry for even asking this, but it's something that has to be considered.

This does not:

2. I'm sorry for even asking this it's something that has to be considered.

In order for the second sentence to make sense without but unfortunately, you would have to add some different punctuation between this and it's in order to turn to make it understandable: a dash, a semicolon, a colon, or a period.


Depending on style, you could forego commas altogether:

I'm sorry for even asking this but unfortunately it's something that has to be considered.

However, that would be an uncommon way of presenting the sentence.

Everything being equal (assuming you interpret punctuation as part of grammar), your second sentence is actually ungrammatical—and your first sentence would be preferred by more people.


Note that even if you have a comma after but, another possible way of styling the sentence would involve no second comma but a slight rephrasing:

I'm sorry for even asking this, but it's unfortunately something that has to be considered.

  • With regards to foregoing commas altogether, is that an acceptable way to write that sentence? I thought commas were required between independent clauses and a coordinating conjunction. Perhaps that's just how they teach it in school. – user27343 Jan 13 at 4:19
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    @user27343 Commas exist in a kind of grey area. Some people claim that they are stylistic only, others that they are part of grammar itself. Depending on context, they fall more into one camp than the other. Generally people would want you to include commas in many cases. And some would claim that certain sentences are ungrammatical without them. I wouldn't personally say that the version of the sentence without commas is outright wrong. But it's not common—and if I were writing it or editing it, I would add at least one. If you're studying from grammar books, what you just said is accurate. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jan 13 at 4:28

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