As far as I know, when two action happen at the same time, I can combine these two sentence into one sentence by using participle form for the one of the actions.

The thing what I am trying to ask is that in the first two examples, why we don't use comma before participles in the first two sentences, but we use comma in the other two sentences?

1- A man ran out of the house shouting.

2- Kate is in the kitchen making coffee.

3- A gift from the Magister Illyrio,” Viserys said, smiling.

4- They had lived in the magister’s house, eating his food, pampered by his servants.

  • Commas are nearly always optional. There is no rule that requires their use, just good writing style.
    – Andrew
    May 15, 2019 at 17:56
  • @Andrew I would disagree. In some constructions, commas are required for proper grammar, although such rules are often violated. In other cases, they are optional, and in yet others, their use would be incorrect. May 15, 2019 at 18:02
  • @DavidSiegel Well, I should qualify. I like to take a blunt hammer to many of the so-called "rules" English learners are taught as gospel (because then they can be tested by teachers who may not themselves be all that proficient in English). Commas are a good example of this. I assert that the proper use of commas is good style, so when they're not used as expected they can assume that the meaning would not change either way.
    – Andrew
    May 15, 2019 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


In the third case, which i would format as:

"A gift from the Magister Illyrio”, Viserys said, smiling.

the comma is present to set off the quoted dialog from the speech tag which describes who said it and how. This is standard for all uses of quoted dialog followed by a speech tag, whether or not a participle form is being used.

In the fourth case "eating his food" and "pampered by his servants" are separate dependent clauses, which is surely not the case in sentence 1.

Sentence #2 could be written with a comma, as:

Kate is in the kitchen, making coffee.

But the clause there is so simple that the comma would often be omitted.

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