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Consider the following sentence:

We see claims such as “Money is the root of all evil” [1] and “Women require time and money” [2] spread throughout research-level texts.

Here, [1] and [2] are some literature references, and the two quotations are two full sentences (which I cannot quote in original for legal reasons) stripped off their terminating periods.

My English proofreader (whom I can no longer ask) put a comma after “such as”:

We see claims such as, “Money is the root of all evil” [1] and “Women require time and money” [2] spread throughout research-level texts.

Is this comma right or wrong? Why? Any reference to a rule from a grammar book?

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  • ? Legal reasons? What law prevents quotation?
    – James K
    Sep 13 at 20:30
  • @JamesK Compliance with a NDA. Sep 13 at 20:34
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The quote is syntactically independent of the sentence. If you removed the quotes you would have a grammatically incorrect expression. When the quote is syntactically independent you should use a comma. Compare with the syntactically integrated

We see claims that "money is the root of all evil" spread throughout research-level texts.

or

Many research-level texts call money the "root of all evil".

In these examples, the sentence would still be correct if you were to remove the quote marks.

But

We see claims such as money is the root of all evil.

This is incorrect grammar (what is the finite verb?, see or is?) So the quoted form could use a comma.

I used a Grammar Girl post when answering this question.

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  • In spot.colorado.edu/~huemer/papers/subj.htm we see this: ‘That is, does the second-order theory undermine our ability to make moral claims, claims such as "Honesty is a virtue"; "Tom should return that book to the library"; "Death is bad"?’ There is no comma between “such as” and the quotations there. Are they wrong, too? Sep 13 at 20:38
  • You punctuate to increase clarity and readibilty. I understand both why your proofreader added a comma (the quote is syntactically independent) and why huemer chose not to (the sentence is easily understood without a comma)
    – James K
    Sep 13 at 20:41
  • Frankly speaking, I don't see that much difference between Humer's text and our sentences: in both cases, the quotes are syntactically independent sentences (modulo the stripped trailing periods) and the sentences are easily understood without a comma. Now, what about the mixture ‘We see moral claims, claims such as(,) “Money is the root of all evil” [1] and “Women require time and money” [2] spread throughout research-level texts.’ ? I'm confused. Sep 13 at 21:00
  • I disagree. A comma after "such as" breaks up the sentence and makes it awkward and incorrect. @Geekest, in your example there you need a closing parenthetical comma after "money" but (IMO) no comma after "such as;" you have turned the example quotes into a parenthetical clause but this is irrelevant to your question about using a comma before the quotation.
    – randomhead
    Sep 13 at 21:39
  • @randomhead In the parenthetical case we would write ‘We see claims, such as “Money is the root of all evil” [1] and “Women require time and money” [2], spread throughout research-level texts.’ But this would make no sense because dropping ‘such as […] [2]’ would result in a too generic ‘We see claims spread throughout research-level texts.’ So, the ‘such as […] [2]’ part is essential and should not be surrounded by commas. Sep 13 at 22:18

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