"And indeed, what is better than to sit by one’s fireside in the evening with a book, while the wind beats against the window and the lamp is burning?" ― Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

How may you dictate a grammatical function of And indeed in this? Why may it go former to a comma? What grammatical phrase may you dictate while wind beats against the window and the lamp is burning? May it seem an adverbial clause placing information on when? I thought a comma gets placed when independent clauses go former to dependent clauses?

May you write it like this?

While the wind beats against the window and the lamp is burning, what is better than to sit by one's fireside in the evening with a book?

  • I'm not sure how to describe "and indeed" to you. It might help to know what came before this sentence. That rephrasing at the end is not quite the same meaning. The last clause, from 'while' to the end of the original sentence, adds more information to the great situation Gustave is describing. He's saying that sitting by the fireside with a book with wind blowing against the window and a burning lamp is the best thing. Your rephrasing makes it sound like sitting by the fire with a book is the best thing when we're only considering situations with the wind and the lamp.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 3:29
  • The 'and indeed' here is almost, like a parenthetical remark. You could replace it with '(behold!)' and it would read nearly the same, though the behold phrase would be a bit stronger. It also could be functioning like a conjunction, linking it to the previous sentence. I am not great with grammatical phrases here, so I may be off, but this is how I view 'and indeed' here. Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 22:31
  • This is really two very different questions. I have provided one answer to the first below; I suggest that you post the question about While the wind &c separately. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


There's a lot more to language than “grammar”.

Grammar describes the very complicated rules and practices by which we construct well-formed sentences—little chunks of language which express distinct propositions.

But in actual use (as opposed to grammar-books), language does not consist of sentences; sentences are just subordinate components which must be assembled into longer or shorter discourses, like bricks or planks which must be assembled into walls and houses. And just as we use mortar and nails to join bricks and planks into larger structures, we use discourse markers for joining sentences and smaller utterances into discourses.

Discourse markers are words and phrases which have no grammatical role in sentences, but act as signposts informing hearers or readers what structural role the following utterance will play in the discourse. At the lowest level they may merely mark a following word or constituent as particularly significant; for instance, the like which has been current primarily in teenage speech for three generations means fundamentally “Listen up!”

She's like really bummed out over this.

At a higher level these phrases mark the relationship between consecutive utterances. They may for instance indicate that the next will supplement what has just been said, contradict it, qualify it, abandon it for a new topic, resume a topic discussed earlier. Most of what traditional grammar called conjunctions are used this way—and, but, however, moreover—and there are any number of markers which have no relevant literal meaning but indicate ‘joints’ and changes of direction: to tell the truth, frankly, as a matter of fact.

In your example, and indeed is a marker of this sort: it links Léon’s question to his immediately previous response Like me, and signals that he will speak in support of their common love of reading. Emma’s subsequent What, indeed? echoes Léon’s utterance and thus signals her concurrence.

. . . and if madame is fond of gardening she will be able”—
    “My wife doesn’t care about it,” said Charles; “although she has been advised to take exercise, she prefers always sitting in her room reading.”
    “Like me,” replied Léon. “And indeed, what is better than to sit by one’s fireside in the evening with a book, while the wind beats against the window and the lamp is burning?”
    “What, indeed?” she said, fixing her large black eyes wide open upon him.

In written discourse, and prepared monologues, we make use of markers such as titles and headings (3.2 Pragmatic Meaning, Chapter Three), formulaic phrases (to begin with, turning to, in conclusion), and even entire sentences (Let us now consider under what conditions this approach may be appropriate) to mark larger structural units; but these are rarely called for (or even possible) in spontaneous speech.

  • So I guess I get it that And indeed seems a discourse marker. It may contain no grammatical role. It may got something to do from that former utterance(?) Like me, and commas may go after.
    – saySay
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 18:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .