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What is the function of the comma here? Is it to avoid ambiguity?

He should send his troops across the river, either in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the opposition forces or (in sufficient numbers) to hold the bridge.

I am, by the way, having some difficulty in understanding the purposes of commas, especially in such sentences as this one:

On the other hand, he did work hard.

Is the purpose of the comma here to mark the adjunct 'on the other hand' as modifying the entire clause, or is it to mark it off as parenthetical? Thank you.

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  • Sometimes, as in this case, commas are optional, and mark where the reader should pause while reading. There's a famous English novel called "The Great Gatsby", and one publisher removed over 100 commas from the original. The grammar remained good.
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 9:45

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When an adverbial dependent clause comes before the independent clause, we put a comma between them.

  • He did work hard on the other hand.
  • On the other hand, he did work hard.

  • Either he should send his troops across the river in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the opposition forces or hold the bridge.
  • He should send his troops across the river, either in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the opposition forces or to hold the bridge.

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