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My question might be a duplicate, but I've tried to find an answer, searching this site, - haven't succeeded, though.

Is it correct to put a comma in the following sentence?

  1. I spent the next three years recovering from a severe injury.
  2. I spent the next three years, recovering from a severe injury.

Whether the comma is needed or not, please, explain to me why as I thought we put a comma if either participle or a participle phrase is separated from the word it is modifying. And in the example, the phrase is actually separated from "I spent".

I appreciate any help.

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    It is not correct to put a comma there. I also don't think it is correct to say "we put a comma if either participle or a participle phrase is separated from the word it is modifying" as a general rule: e.g., "he ran home crying", not "he ran home, crying." But I will let someone with more technical knowledge of grammar explain the exact rules.
    – stangdon
    Apr 27 at 18:37
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    Commas don't really "mean" anything - they're only there to reflect pauses in speech. And since no-one would pause after the word years in your example, there's no reason to include a comma. Apr 28 at 16:28
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  1. I spent the next three years recovering from a severe injury.
  1. I spent the next three years, recovering from a severe injury.

Generally, commas are of the four types: the listing comma, the joining comma, the gapping comma, and the bracketing commas.

In example 2, by the process of elimination, we deduce that the comma has to be a bracketing comma, used to bracket a weak interruption.

It is clear that with the weak interruption removed, the remaining part of the clause does not convey the intended message.

I spent the next three years.

We should hence not have that comma.

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    If the verb in the initial clause had been, say, wasted rather than spent, it would be entirely optional whether to include a comma / pause in I spent the next three years [comma / pause] recovering from a severe injury. Apr 28 at 16:33
  • But I'll still have to use comma in the sentence: "I found him, crying his name"? I mean, if I want to say that I was crying his name in order to find him.
    – Maxyeet
    Apr 29 at 9:07

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