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Obviously, this is a compound-complex sentence. Is there missing a comma between the first two clauses in this sentence?

Orignial: "When I was at the Academy I had the pick of models, but now I can never seem to hang on to them. "

Changed: "When I was at the Academy, I had the pick of models, but now I can never seem to hang on to them. "

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  • A comma is unnecessary, but correct, in that position. Think of it as optional. The original two clauses make a complete sentence in which the comma is also optional; I think the comma detracts from the meaning of the longer sentence. – rcook Aug 2 '20 at 2:21
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"When I was at the Academy" is an adverbial clause. When we put adverbial clauses at the start of a sentence, we normally put a comma between the adverbial clause and the main sentence. The longer or more complex the adverbial clause, the more important the comma.

You can use a comma after a leading single word adverb, but it is definitely not necessary:

Tomorrow, we will got shopping.
Tomorrow we will go shopping.

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  • HI JavaLatte. What if the sentence is like this: "When I was at the Academy, I had the pick of models." Can the comma be dropped? – Den Allan Aug 3 '20 at 6:18
  • @DenAllan The adverbial clause in your sentence is the same, and that's the deciding factor on whether a comma is necessary. If you simplified the adverbial clause "That year I had the pick of models..." then the comma is less important. The complexity of the main clause doesn't affect it. – JavaLatte Aug 3 '20 at 12:33
  • So it is grammatically correct without the comma. On the other hand, I guess it has to do with style regarding if it is necessary. "When I was at the Academy I had the pick of models." It looks strange to me without comma. – Den Allan Aug 3 '20 at 18:20

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