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I jogged once a week (not to lose weight, obviously), so I caught up with him in no time.

Do I need those two commas? Would I be enough if I just wrote:

I jogged once a week (not to lose weight obviously) so I caught up with him in no time.

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    Commas are at the author's discretion in literary prose. Also, "was jogging" would be more idiomatic. And you might want to say "obviously not to lose weight". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 12 '15 at 12:39
  • I agree that there is some discretion with commas in literary prose, but not so much that clarity is sacrificed. Besides, the sentence seems out-of-context and does not make much sense to me. When you write 'you caught up with him", you mean "in the process of losing weight" or "through physical running"? More of the context from where this sentence was extracted would help- including deciding how many, or if any, commas would help. – Gary Mar 12 '15 at 13:12
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    Google search here would not be meaningful because in Google search you cannot define the context. In your specific context, you mean to say that it was because you were in good physical condition (that is, because you had been jogging regularly) you were able to catch up to him. The regular/habitual is expressed via the progressive. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 12 '15 at 15:27
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    While "not to lose weight, obviously" is OK, "obviously not" is also perfectly acceptable and avoids the need for a comma, which would make the prose "look cleaner", since the punctuation would be more streamlined. books.google.com/ngrams/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 12 '15 at 15:30
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    I think the phrasing in TRomano’s second comment would be appropriate. “I had been jogging once a week”. This makes it clear that before that point in the past, you had been (were in the habit of) jogging once a week. That may be worth a question of its own. – Tyler James Young Mar 12 '15 at 16:04
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  1. Comma in "not to lose weight obviously" changes the meaning.

    I jogged once a week (not to lose weight, obviously)

    Whatever was the purpose of jogging, it's obvious that it wasn't "to lose weight".

    I jogged once a week (not to lose weight obviously)

    Whatever was the purpose of jogging, it wasn't "to lose weight obviously".

  2. Comma between "I jogged once a week" and "so I caught up with him in no time" is required.

    "I jogged once a week" and "I caught up with him in no time" are independent clauses joined by coordinating conjunction. The comma is needed.

    I jogged once a week, so I caught up with him in no time.

    When you insert bracketed statement, the comma doesn't disappear:

    I jogged once a week (not to lose weight, obviously), so I caught up with him in no time.

  • +1. I had not considered this, but now that you mention it there is obvious weight loss and not-so-obvious weight loss. Jogging once a week could either represent in an obvious way that the speaker is not jogging to lose weight OR it could represent that the speaker is losing weight, but does not wish the weight loss to appear obvious. – Tyler James Young Mar 12 '15 at 16:08

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