1

The story has multiple different meanings, and lets you interpret it the way you wish.

Are commas in these sort of examples optional? As written it has a clear subject that isn't repeated but is still not independent as written.

And here:

Your dental habits are awful, but if you brush and floss every day, you probably won’t get cavities or gum disease.

The conjunction but is connecting an if/then construction, but as a whole why is the section classed as dependent? As 'you probably will not get cavities or gum disease' is independent as written ?

1

If I understand correctly, you are asking two questions.

  1. Are the commas optional in the first sentence?

  2. Why is the final part of the second sentence considered a dependent clause?

For question 1, I would say that the comma is not essential, but probably worth adding. The sentence has two distinct clauses joined by 'and'. It helps the reader to add the indicator where the clauses divide.

For question 2, I would agree, "you probably won't get cavities of gum disease" does not fulfil the criteria of a dependent clause to my mind, unless I am missing something. Whereas "if you brush and floss every day" is a dependent clause.

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