5

Fortunately, reason kicked in(,) and I stopped doing it.

I read somewhere that you should always add a comma if the sentence after the "and" is a complete sentence. This seems to be the case in my example.

However, I also see the no-comma version on Google Books:

[...] but reason kicked in and I turned the thought down.

[...] The voice of reason kicked in and I was forced to face the truth and to undertake some real, heartfelt, sincere, and honest examinations.

Maybe both versions are correct?

  • 2
    Fashion in writing has, over the last few centuries, been slowly moving away from commas that are not strictly necessary for the reader to understand the sentence in the first place. It's perhaps felt that they slow the perceived flow down too much. But this is more a matter of style than correctness. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 11 '15 at 6:09
  • Often commas are up to the writer. The writer will often try to use commas in order to influence the reader, to try to make the reader parse the sentence in a certain way in order to get a specific interpretation from it. Your example is actually a perfect example to demonstrate this! (cont.) – F.E. Jul 11 '15 at 8:15
  • 1
    (cont.) Consider this: 1. "[Fortunately reason kicked in, ] and I stopped doing it." <== What is fortunate is that reason kicked in. Now compare that to this: 2. "Fortunately, [reason kicked in and I stopped doing it ]." <== What is fortunate is that both reason kicked in AND I stopped doing it. Now, if both commas are inserted: 3. "Fortunately, reason kicked in, and I stopped doing it." <== it becomes ambiguous as to the writer's intended interpretation. Summary: punctuation is a tool that a writer often uses to influence how the reader is to read the text. – F.E. Jul 11 '15 at 8:15
6

Joe cooked a cake and Betty brought some coke.

Beware of rules that are always supposed to apply.

In sentences with two short independent clauses no comma is necessary. See my example. Or, as in your second example from Google, there is a short independent clause followed by a longer one but the sentence can be read effectively with no comma, we'll then a comma isn't necessary.

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