"You had better keep doing this and figuring out other complicated problems."

equal to

"You had better keep doing this, figuring out other complicated problems."

  • by the way,are the both sentences gramatically correct?
    – 오준수
    Aug 16, 2015 at 1:24
  • 1
    Context is not clear since I can't tell what "this" refers to. Could you write a more complete example? But in general I don't see much difference, though as I read the second one the two phrases seem to be independent clauses. In that case, you would use a semi-colon, not a comma.
    – user3169
    Aug 16, 2015 at 2:43
  • @오준수 It's recommended on this site that we should punctuate and capitalize our posts properly. Judging from what I've seen in your posts so far, I believe that you know that the first letter of a sentence is supposed to be capitalized, and we're supposed to end a sentence with a period, and more importantly, the skill of writing in good English is essential. I took the liberty of editing the examples in this question, and I hope you don't mind. Welcome to ELL, BTW! Aug 16, 2015 at 6:43
  • Your second sentence does not make any sense to me. "this" and "other" do not go well together. Your sentence could be paraphrased: "Keep doing this, doing something other than this." The second phrase applies to the first phrase; it is an adverbial modifier which you refuse to believe.
    – TimR
    Aug 16, 2015 at 11:31
  • Read: ...applies to the first clause. (ran out of edit time)
    – TimR
    Aug 16, 2015 at 11:37

2 Answers 2


The first sentence is correct, although it can be a made a bit clearer. Instead of writing:

you had better keep doing this and figuring out other complicated problems

I would write:

you had better keep doing this and keep figuring out other complicated problems

It is a bit difficult to understand the meaning of the sentence if not seen in context: it is not clear where "this" refers to.

The second sentence seems incorrect to me. Instead of a comma, I would expect a colon:

you had better keep doing this: keep figuring out other complicated problems

The first sentence lists two things you should do separated by "and".

The second sentence separates them by a comma, which, in this case, is incorrect. The comma breaks up a sentence for a pause or as part of listing more than two options. For example:

do this, this and that

In your case there are only two options: "keep doing" and "figuring out". So they don't need a comma, just "and".

If you replace the comma with a colon, then the meaning changes. Instead of two things you have to do, there is only one ("keep doing this") and the colon introduces related information. The related information is what you should keep doing.

The phrase "you had better" means "I very strongly advise you to". What then follows is what you should be doing. This is used in written text. When speaking, "had" can be dropped or contracted:

you better study hard if you want to pass your exams.
you'd better study hard if you want to pass your exams

  • frankly,the sentence i mentioned above is the similar example,made by me,of original sentence-(The AOA recommends washing glasses everymoring,paying speacial attention to the frames and earpieces,where hair product and makeup tend to rub off) in yhis case,i just cannot understand why they must use a comma before paying?tons of people were like"it functions as an adverbial modifying the verb"recommend".but yeah,i admit i was wrong,and this is an adverb. but i just cannot get it..
    – 오준수
    Aug 16, 2015 at 5:40
  • and some people said that the comma can be placed before the adverb or can be dropped,depending on the sentence.(i think in my comment,i said "blablabla...comma+depending on".so it's an adverbial as well,right? help me plz
    – 오준수
    Aug 16, 2015 at 5:45
  • can the parenthesis be grund-headed participle instead of(which is....., as i....., in such case,etc). or maybe it's not even a parenthesis or supplement but just a participle clause functioning as an adverbial? i have been thinking this problem for like a whole day in a row...
    – 오준수
    Aug 16, 2015 at 5:49
  • they could have said like( the aoa recommends washinh glasses everymorning and pay special attentions to the frames and earpieces balblablablabla....)
    – 오준수
    Aug 16, 2015 at 5:51
  • @오준수 The sentence you give in your comments is quite different from the one in your question. But I'll try to answer it here. It is not always about 'right' or 'wrong': placing a comma is often a choice the writer makes to convey a certain meaning. The comma before paying makes the phrase stand out, emphasizing what the AOA thinks is important. If you would use and paying special..., as you suggested, there is much less emphasis on the phrase.
    – NZD
    Aug 16, 2015 at 6:30

The two sentences are not equivalent.

In the first sentence, "this" and "figuring out other complicated problems" are two separate things that the listener had better keep doing. Previous sentences must have established the meaning of "this".

In the second sentence, the phrase "figuring out other complicated problems" is an appositive, which provides the meaning of "this". An appositive is a phrase, placed immediately adjacent to another phrase, indicating that the two phrases describe the same thing. Here are a examples of the two kinds of appositives in English:

My teacher, a man from Georgia, used to work as a cotton farmer.

That means the same as "My teacher used to work as a cotton farmer. He is a man from Georgia." The commas mean that the appositive makes an additional statement about "teacher", beyond what the verb ("used to work…") says. This is called a non-restrictive appositive.

My cat Josephine likes to chase ping-pong balls.

That means "One of my cats likes to chase ping-pong balls. The cat that I am referring to is the one named Josephine." The lack of commas around "Josephine" means that the appositive indicates which cat I'm talking about. This is called a restrictive appositive.

So, your second sentence means that "figuring out other complicated problems" is what "this" refers to. However, depending on the preceding sentences, many people will think that the sentence is an error, because normally you would say something to establish the meaning of "this" before adding information to it with an appositive. Or, if there is only one thing that the listener had better keep doing, normally you would word the sentence like this:

You had better keep figuring out other complicated problems.

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