I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience. ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Why may merely because you are older than I get contained in commas? Does it get utilized like some phrase? May it seem an adverbial phrase? I may get a comma follows that conjunction or.

  • 4
    There are no hard-and-fast rules about punctuation; every author points differently, and every publisher changes the author's punctuation to suit the "rules" of the publishing house. Moreover, punctuation changes over time; this work was published in 1847, when the fashion called for much denser punctuation than we use today: it tended to follow the rhythm of speech rather than formally marking syntax. – StoneyB on hiatus May 22 '15 at 2:02
  • @StoneyB, will you please write an answer to this question? Pretty please? – Lucian Sava May 22 '15 at 19:01
  • @StoneyB, I second Lucian Sava's comment. please post it as an answer. – Omnidisciplinarianist May 27 '15 at 0:16

It's a parenthetical phrase. A parenthetical phrase, sometimes called simply a parenthetical, is one that is not essential to the framing sentence. In the preceding sentence, the phrase “sometimes called simply a parenthetical” is itself a parenthetical because the segments of the sentence that precede and follow it can be attached to form a complete sentence without it: “A parenthetical phrase is one that is not essential to the framing sentence.”


  • Note that the parenthetical contains all the way to "more of the world than I have" — it doesn't end at the first comma. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 19 '15 at 18:01

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