I found this sentence from my exercise book (Oxford Grammar):

I felt lazy, and because I didn't have any real work to do, I took the afternoon off.

The execise instructs me to guess whether it's correct or not. The key answer is correct, but I have a question. Why isn't this sentence written like this:

Because I felt lazy and I didn't have any real work to do, I took the afternoon off.

Which one is more grammatical? If there's none, please provide your version. The reason I think the first sentence above seems to be weird is because and and because are placed together consecutively. In my opinion, it has the structure:

《Main clause/stand-alone sentence》 + 《conjunction》 + 《complex sentence (subordinate + main clause)》.

Again, in my view, would it sound better if the structure is written like this:

《Subordinate clause》 + 《Main clause》

Where the subordinate clause in my version carries equal-weight clause.

  • 3
    Your version changes the meaning, though. The original says I left because I didn't have any real work to do. Yours says there are two reasons. It's a small difference in this case, but it is there.
    – stangdon
    Mar 17, 2022 at 3:03
  • You are making a fundmental error in your analysis. In modern grammar "because" is not a conjunction but a preposition. Try re-thinking it with that in mind.
    – BillJ
    Mar 17, 2022 at 7:09
  • @BillJ I don't know that. Sorry. Because the book itself says clearly because is a conjunction. Though, it says the book was revised in 2019 (the e-book version from Oxford bookshelf).
    – user516076
    Mar 18, 2022 at 10:48
  • Traditional grammar regards it as a conjunction, but modern grammar is correct. See here link and here link
    – BillJ
    Mar 18, 2022 at 11:07
  • @BillJ I learn something new today. Thanks for the link!
    – user516076
    Mar 18, 2022 at 11:08

1 Answer 1


I think you're analyzing a little harder than the exercise meant for you to. Commas often work in pairs to "set off" phrases, and you can often check grammaticality by deleting those phrases.

  • "I felt lazy I took the afternoon off" is not valid.
  • "I felt lazy and I took the afternoon off" is, so we should include the "and" in the first phrase, not use a comma to move it into the second phrase.
  • "I felt lazy and, because I didn't have any real work to do, I took the afternoon off." The previous sentence is still here; we've just added a bit more explaining information. The extra phrase, "because I didn't have any real work to do," could be deleted without invalidating the sentence, so it gets set off with commas.

Sure, one could rewrite this sentence with a different word order, but it sounds like that isn't the focus of the exercise. And stangdon is right; although in this case, logic does suggest that "I felt lazy" is another of the reasons to take time off, the structure doesn't always work that way.

It was noon and, because I didn't have any real work to do, I took the afternoon off.

In this case, the time being noon isn't one of the reasons I took time off.

But of course, you could rewrite all these sentences by moving the "because" clause to the end and you could use no commas at all (though you might want some optional ones for clarity).

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