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Should there always be a comma after "as a result"?

For instance:

This is done by using a database of patients and as a result the factors which have any significance are obtained.

should be written as...

This is done by using a database of patients and, as a result, the factors which have any significance are obtained

  • Welcome to ELL. If I understand your intended meaning correctly, you misplaced the first comma. It should be before and. – Damkerng T. Jun 3 '15 at 11:32
  • Hi @Damkerng, actually it's okay to put the comma after the word "and", because that turns the phrase "as a result" into the subordinate clause and "this is done by using a database of patients and the factors which have any significance are obtained" into the main clause. You can inject a subordinate clause into the middle of a main clause according to: goffs.herts.sch.uk/documents/literacy/literacy_skillswise/… – Mark Jun 3 '15 at 11:38
  • @Mark Thank you for the information, but I don't know if I should agree with it. Please clarify a bit about this "and as a result [clause]" being a subordinate clause because at the moment I can't see how it can be one. It could at best be a set off phrase, imho. Also, I can't make myself read "This is done by using a database of patients and the factors which have any significance are obtained". "This is done by using X and Y" is possible, but "this is done by using X and Y which have Z are obtained" as a single clause? What do you think? – Damkerng T. Jun 3 '15 at 12:00
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    In regards to your first point, just think of the subordinate phrase as something like: This is done by using a database of patients and, due to our work in the field, the factors which have any significance are obtained". The phrase "due to our work in the field" is a much more definite subordinate clause, and it's used in the same way. With your second point, it would benefit from a comma, but it still makes sense without. Here's another sentence with the same grammar: "The party was completed with the help of Josh and all the guests who were hungry were fed". – Mark Jun 3 '15 at 12:04
  • Pedants will tell you that as a result is "parenthetical", and thus should be set off by commas before and after. But it would be strange to include those unnecessary/superfluous commas in a simple statement like Pure lead is soft and as a result will pour and form easily. And I wouldn't argue with It was commonsensical during this period to accept English as the language of popular choice, and as a result, the language in which oral and written skills had to be perfected. – FumbleFingers Jun 3 '15 at 17:34
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Both of those sentences are valid, the only rule in this case is that you either include both commas or no commas.

The reason for this is because placing one comma after the word and splits the sentence into an incomplete main clause:

  1. This is done by using a database of patients and

  2. as a result the factors which have any significance are obtained.

Using a comma after the phrase as a result will also produce an incomplete main clause:

  1. This is done by using a database of patients and as a result

  2. the factors which have any significance are obtained.

You could change the comma placement and say:

This is done by using a database of patients, and as a result the factors which have any significance are obtained

The main clause is now a complete standalone sentence.

So that's three sentences, all of which are grammatically correct. If you have a choice for deciding whether or not to use commas I would advise you to avoid them. Your writing style will flow better if you string together clauses with conjunctions like "because", "as", and "for" instead of breaking them up with commas and semi-colons.

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    It's also possible to use three commas for a fourth sentence: "This is done by using a database of patients, and, as a result, the factors which have any significance are obtained." Use of this many commas is no longer customary because of how awkward it looks for little or no gain in clarity. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 3 '15 at 13:45

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