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I am a little confused about the usage of a comma in sentences with conjunctions.

For example:

Dairying is concerned not only with the production of milk but with the manufacture of milk products.

Can we put a comma before but?

Can we say "Dairying is concerned not only with the production of milk, but is concerned with the manufacture of milk products."? Or must there be an it after but in this case?

Or is the original sentence wrong at all?

  • 1
    You can certainly put a comma there. Or not. Different strokes for different folks. This is similar to the Oxford comma in that the rule is debatable and the issue is the same. – Doc May 5 '14 at 16:32
  • I wouldn't say either is wrong, but the first is how I was taught. – David Wilkins May 5 '14 at 17:50
  • @Doc that's not OC's case. – Maulik V May 6 '14 at 4:15
  • @MaulikV What's not OC's case? I'm not saying that this is an issue of the Oxford comma, I said it was "similar to the Oxford comma in that the rule is debatable and the issue [of whether to use a comma before a conjunction] is the same". What about that is wrong? – Doc May 6 '14 at 14:40
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You can put a comma before but or leave it out. It is a matter of personal taste (or the professional opinion of your editor or publisher if you have one.)

(Myself, honestly, I think commas are, well, you know, awesome, and will use them, with rare exception, anywhere they might possibly fit.)

In your second example, you have an additional is, which is unnecessary: it is redundant with the initial is, and breaks the grammatical parallelism. Adding an it just exacerbates that.

  • +1 But I think the redundancy is is concerned, not just is. – StoneyB May 6 '14 at 8:53
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The comma is not required.

Also, the structure "...not only...but also..." has a particular structure. The question in concern and the structure is one of the most confusing things in English grammar.

Here is a wonderful tip from DailyWritingTips-

But before we go any further, note not only that a comma following “not only” is unnecessary but also that also (or too or as well) is essential after but.

The structure is (Subject) (this) (verb) and (that) but the correct structure is (Subject) (verb) (this) and (that)

So, all in all...

Dairying is concerned not only with the production of milk but also with the manufacture of milk products.

Putting comma is extraneous. Here is the example (#5) from that page:

“They understood that the devastation was not solely (serves as 'not only') about the lack of water but also about the way the land had been used.”

Then where use comma before 'but'?

When two sentences merged into one with but – comma is required - GrammarMonster. I also notice that the conjunction but takes comma before it when the latter clause is in contrast of the former one.

He is a great swimmer , but he prefers to play golf.

2

Not enough rep to comment. :/

At the end of your post, you asked if the original sentence was correct. It is correct except for one thing: something to imply that with the manufacture of milk products is in addition to something.

  • Dairying is concerned not only with the production of milk but with the manufacture of milk products, too.

If someone is going to be reading this aloud, I recommend adding a comma to help separate the "thoughts" in the sentence. Otherwise, Codeswitcher is absolutely correct: it's a matter of personal taste.

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