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He ran out of his house(,) with his wife following behind.

Countries all over the world competed this year(,) with Brazil in second place.

Is there are comma needed here (grammatically)? If so, how is this "with" different from others?

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    I see the difference as being 1: With the comma / pause - you're reporting two "separate" actions (he ran out, then she ran out shortly afterwards). 2: Without a comma / pause - you're "adverbially" adding extra detail about how he ran out (closely followed by his wife, as opposed to coming out unaccompanied or whatever). But don't think of this as being to do with commas and punctuation - it's simply about whether or not there's a pause in the "real" (spoken) version (the only purpose of the comma is to reflect that pause, if it exists). – FumbleFingers Jan 1 at 18:36
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With can imply two different things here:

  • He ran out of the house with his wife - this is describing how he ran out of the house. He was specifically together with his wife, it implies a purpose, similar to running out of the house with a photo album (he brought it to save it).
  • He ran out of the house, with his wife following behind - here with has more of a sense of "a thing that happened at the same time". A better example might be he ran out of the front door with the house collapsing around him - it's describing two things or events occuring simultaneously, which may or may not be connected. Did he and his wife run out together, or did they both just run independently? Did he leave her behind? The comma separating the two events seems to disconnect them from each other.

You can actually drop the with in the second case: he ran out of the house, his wife following behind. If you do that you need the comma really, because the two clauses aren't as obviously separated. When with is there it acts as a connecting word.

Your Brazil example fits the first reading, Brazil in second place isn't a separate thing occurring at the same time as countries all over the world competed, it's directly connected to that idea. It's describing something about how countries competed, it's additional information. So you need the with in this case (you can drop it but that's an informal style) - but that means the comma is optional. It just adds a pause, or a clearer sense that you're adding some extra detail, so it's a style thing really.

That's a lot of information you didn't really ask for, but hopefully it helps make sense of things!

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A comma is not required proceeding a preposition (with, of, by, etc).

However, if included, an implied meaning could be "this is extra, information not critical".

Example 1:

Who did he run out of the house with?

He ran out of his house with his wife.

We should not use a comma because this is an answer, which is required for the answer.

Example 2:

What did he do?

He ran out of his house, with his wife following behind.

Here, we answered the question, and then we wanted to say, "oh yeah, and some other information for you that's extra".

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