Mike went to the shop, and he bought vegetables.


Mike went to the shop and bought vegetables.

My understanding is that when the subject is there after 'and', the comma is required.

My understanding is that when there is no subject after 'and', the comma is not required.

Am I correct on the understanding?

  • 2
    The two statements mean different things. It's like a list. The first sentence does not imply that he bought the vegetables at the shop. The second one implies a bit more strongly that the vegetables were bought at the shop. Also, I'm not sure but I don't think you need a comma in either case. – Catija Mar 11 '15 at 6:45
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    @Catija And even though the first one doesn't necessarily imply that Mike bought the vegetables at the shop, most people would probably assume that that's what was meant by the sentence. – Zgialor Mar 11 '15 at 12:05
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    That type of comma (its presence or absence), for both examples, is a style decision. Though, you may need to be aware that many teachers confuse style with grammar; and so, you'll need to do what the teacher wants while you are a student. – F.E. Mar 11 '15 at 18:48

The general rule we can apply here is that the first sentence calls for a comma because it is a compound sentence consisting of two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (even though the subjects "Mike" and "he" are complementary, referring to the same person):

1 Mike went to the shop.
2 He bought vegetables.

However, the comma is not always required. In shorter sentences, writers often leave out the comma:

I walked and Mike ran.
I called but no one answered.

The second sentence (Mike went to the shop and bought vegetables.) is a simple sentence (one independent clause) with a compound predicate consisting of two verbs ("went" and "bought"), and we should not include a comma.

Note that if the predicate contains three or more verbs, we can apply the "list rule" for commas and separate them:

Mike went to the store, bought groceries, and returned home.


This has come apropos! I was just teaching my kid (she had an exam of English) from her textbook. In the textbook (of course Indian), there was no comma. If the subject is same, we don't need to repeat the subject. Said that...

Mike went to the shop and brought vegetables -plain and clear.

However, it's good to learn about the Oxford comma if you are including more than two things.

But if at all I want to dig in further, I can think of a context where I'll have to emphasize on the subject because he did something else* than what he was asked!

Say, you send Mike to drop your kid, see a doctor (for some reason), meet a plumber (for some household work), and buy eggs from the shop. Now, he is a forgetful person. He went to the shop but then he bought vegetables. There, I'd emphasize it on the subject by putting it again in the sentence.

And guess what...Mike went to the shop, and he brought vegetables!

I can stress on "...and he...." to prove my point that he actually did go to the shop but he bought vegetables.

  • Obviously, your Mike and the OP's Mike are different guys. One Mike bought vegetables; the other brought them! – Damkerng T. Mar 11 '15 at 10:55
  • lol...your comment always brings a smile on my face! Corrected... @DamkerngT. – Maulik V Mar 11 '15 at 11:11

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