The AOA recommends washing glasses every morning, paying special attention to the frames and earpieces, where hair product and makeup tend to rub off.

In this sentence, shouldn't the comma be dropped? I mean the comma placed right before "paying" should be omitted.

  • By the way,I know that both (recommend doing sth) and (recommend sb to do sth ) are fixed usage or can be seen as fixed usage.I just cannot figure out what does the phrase(paying special .......earpieces) actually stand for? Is it something like supplement or participle clause? Cos it looks neither like a parenthesis nor a participle clause functioning as an adjective or adverbial..
    – 오준수
    Aug 15, 2015 at 10:29
  • Help!! Or give me a website link about this grammar!
    – 오준수
    Aug 15, 2015 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


Punctuation is conventional. Its goal is clarity. Since the written word lacks some of the characteristics of the spoken word, we use punctuation to indicate the structure of sentences, clauses, and phrases, as well as for some other things, such as exclamations or questions.

The convention is to place a comma between the main clause and a gerund-headed clause that acts as an adverbial modifier of the predication in the main clause:

They walked along the beach, looking for pretty seashells.

In speech, there would be a brief syntactic pause after "beach", signaling the structural division of the sentence into main clause and augmentative clause.

Phrases like "along the beach" tend to be spoken as units. If one were to measure the micro-pauses in the sentence, one would see that its syntactic units are demarcated by pauses of varying duration, creating rhythms known as "parsing rhythms".

Whether in such a simple sentence the comma is required for clarity is debatable. It probably is not, at least for most competent native speakers who are familiar with this structural pattern. But the comma does no harm, and the sentence is hardly overly punctuated.

In your example, I see no need for the comma after "earpieces".

  • but you know,the comma should not be placed before the adverbial.for example(tony walked across the street slowly) but cannot be like(tony walked across the street,slowly).or maybe if the adverb is a phrase(just like" looking for pretty seashells") then i should use a comma before it,right?
    – 오준수
    Aug 15, 2015 at 17:46
  • That general rule (no comma before an adverb) does not always hold, especially when the clause is not a simple adverb but is a phrase that can be applied to the entire predicate. Again, these rules really have nothing to do with language per se but are conventions of typography.
    – TimR
    Aug 15, 2015 at 18:38
  • This punctuation would be legitimate in a novel or short story: The thief opened the door—quietly, so as not to wake the owners.
    – TimR
    Aug 15, 2015 at 18:40

You must log in to answer this question.

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