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"The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a great deal, mind you; and they say he had a great wish for him."

What is the point of mind you here, grammatically? What is this called in grammar? Why may it get set off by a comma?

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It is a conversational ploy, drawing attention to a remark. Sometimes it could be paraphrased "but don't get me wrong" (that is, don't misconstrue what I've just said a second or two ago).

They were arguing rather heatedly about whether a particular word was an adverb or a preposition. But they were good friends, mind you. Dr Jones would never have bludgeoned Dr Smith to death with a brass candlestick.

P.S. The punctuation attempts to reflect the structural role of phrases and clauses. "Mind you" is an interjection, and thus, in speech, it would be subtly isolated from the clause that precedes it by a syntactic pause and it would also be delivered with a shift in intonation.

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  • So, I guess it gets called an interjection, in grammar? And I guess it may get set off from a comma, in that it may seem like a phrase? I thank you, TRomano.
    – saySay
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 21:47
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I believe that we can consider it a filler.

Why do I say so? It's because the sentence still means roughly the same when it's removed, or when it's replaced by other similar fillers. For example,

The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a great deal, mind you; and they say he had a great wish for him.

The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a great deal, you know; and they say he had a great wish for him.

The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a great deal, I hope you know; and they say he had a great wish for him.

The youngster and he were great friends. Well, the old chap taught him a great deal; and they say he had a great wish for him.

The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a great deal, yes; and they say he had a great wish for him.

The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a great deal, please note; and they say he had a great wish for him.

Literally (that is, if we understand it word by word), it's "mind" + "you", but in reality, the best way to deal with this filler (also any fillers in general), in my humble opinion, is to keep our reading flexible, and try to feel its meaning in the context. The more you read, the more you learn, and the more you can feel it. And that is a good way to develop our "sense of language".

As for why it's set off by a comma, it's because, in writing, we usually set off fillers. This hints at a couple things, as far as I know. One is that it makes it easier to see what's the main part (in a given sentence), and what's not. Another is that it suggests where to pause in reading.

Happy learning!

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"mind you" added to a sentence as in your sentence is a colloquial formula of little importance. It just underlines what has just been said. It is more a matter of the dictionary, and not so much of grammar.

"Mind you" can have different meanings when it introduces a sentence.

You have to look up the idiom "mind you" in dictionaries, But such expressions are often insufficiently explained or only half of it. See OLD, mind, verb, idioms in the Oxford Learner's Dictionary, where it reads:

mind you (informal) used to add something to what you have just said, especially something that makes it less strong

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