If two or more independent clauses share a common part (for example, a dependent clause or adverbial), do they get separated by a comma? For example

In the morning, he drives to work(,) and his children take a bus to school.

In Russian, for example, there wouldn't be a comma, and it seems logical to me. But English has a different logic so I would like to know how to punctuate such sentences.

  • 2
    Take a really simple example, such as Now I speak and you listen. Some people sometimes might include a comma before and (just as some people would articulate a pause at that point in the spoken version). But it's entirely a stylistic choice, nothing to do with "grammatical rules". Besides which the general trend is towards less punctuation everywhere, so if you just follow your natural (Russian) inclinations you'll be ahead of the curve. Note that to all intents and purposes, the only reason for a comma is to reflect a pause in speech All else is pedantic trivia. – FumbleFingers Oct 28 '20 at 15:23
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    Punctuation is not grammar: it does not exist in the spoken language. What is proper punctuation depends on style guides. Style guides differ. Most style guides recommend separating independent clauses by punctuation. If you are writing for the New York Times and its style guide demands punctuation that offends your sense of style, rewrite the sentence so both guide and style agree. “In the morning, he drives to work while his children take the bus to school.” Problem solved. – Jeff Morrow Oct 28 '20 at 15:36
  • Logic has little to do with spelling grammar or punctuation – James K Oct 28 '20 at 22:42
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica Is it dependent on sharing a common part at all? – Sergey Zolotarev Oct 29 '20 at 1:11
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    Nah. Even my "really simple example" features a "shared common part" - in full, it would be Now I speak and now you listen. But I think what @Jeff says about using "while" is useful. If your context is one where you could reasonably replace conjoining "and" by "while", you probably don't want a comma even if you don't actually do the substitution. Offhand I think there are few if any contexts where you'd put a comma before "while" (unless immediately preceded by a "parenthetical" element delineated by commas). Where "while" doesn't need a comma, assume "and" doesn't either. – FumbleFingers Oct 29 '20 at 12:01

You could put a comma there, but the clauses are short and simple enough that it’s not really required. The "sharing a common part" is irrelevant. There are two coordinated clauses, and these are often separated by a comma. For example, I just used a comma in the previous sentence before "and".

  • "For example, used a comma in the previous sentence before "and"." But they don't share a common part – Sergey Zolotarev Oct 29 '20 at 1:09
  • Yes, whether or not there is a common part is irrelevant. – James K Oct 29 '20 at 7:32
  • For some reason, the software is not letting me upvote this answer, but consider it done spiritually. – Jeff Morrow Oct 29 '20 at 14:01

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