They are soldiers who come to the battlefield armed with their respective murderous weapons.

In a document about "Prepositional phrases and commas" it is said that we are supposed to add a comma before the Prepositional phrase, if its location is away from the noun it modifies.

Here in this above example, "armed with their..." is about the soldiers and not about the battlefield. Should I use a comma before "armed?" It doesn't feel good to read it with a comma though. I am very confused about commas. Any good suggestions to read for learning punctuations better?

1 Answer 1


You've already learned the most important rule: If the punctuation doesn't help, leave it out.

Certainly you should not put in a comma in a place that doesn't help you feel good to read.

The "logic" behind this is that "with their..." is part of the non-finite clause "armed with ...". The prepositional phrase attaches to the verb "armed" and not to the noun soldiers.

Compare that sentence with:

The soldiers come to the battlefield armed, with their lunch in their backpack, and talking on their mobile phones.

Here a comma is required, because they are not armed with their lunch! Rather the soldier are armed and they are with their lunch, and they are talking on the phone.

That's a funny example, but I hope you see the difference.

  • That's a really a funny scene to imagine. In general, is it wrong to leave out a comma, even if that would be expected as per the prevailing practice, if it didn't necessarily change the meaning of the sentence?
    – Ammu
    Jan 30, 2022 at 23:33
  • 1
    If the comma doesn't help with meaning or flow it can be left out. (I left out the comma before the main clause in that sentence, for example). There are "rules" to help decide if a comma is useful, but native speakers are quite flexible about these rules, compared to mistakes in spelling or syntax.
    – James K
    Jan 31, 2022 at 7:25

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