Grammar question....

iGary

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May 26, 2004
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Having a "debate" with an editor of mine.

Would you write this sentence like this:

Fifty years ago Joe Bruce was a youngster hiding behind a patch of cattails while chugging a plug across a pond on his grandmother's farm.
Or like this:

Fifty years ago, Joe Bruce was a youngster hiding behind a patch of cattails while chugging a plug across a pond on his grandmother's farm.
 

MalcolmJID

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Nov 1, 2005
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With the comma, mate. It breaks up the sentence, it just works with the comma. I know the real grammatical explanation in my head, but I can't put it into words.

With the comma ;)
 

kretzy

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Though I have no idea what it means, I would be inclined to go with the second option (well that's how I would write it anyway). I like commas. I find they make things more readable, by breaking up the sentence.
 

MalcolmJID

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max_altitude said:
Though I have no idea what it means, I would be inclined to go with the second option (well that's how I would write it anyway). I like commas. I find they make things more readable, by breaking up the sentence.

I wouldn't have used that comma in the last sentence ;)
 

iGary

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I couldn't find any precedent in Strunk and White, AP or Chicago that made sense, but I also don't want the guy thinking I am an idiot for adding the comma (I've already sent the piece in, and this is my first whack after they revised it).
 

Queso

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Mar 4, 2006
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I'd do it the Management Consultant way :)

Fifty years ago:-
  • Joe Bruce was a youngster hiding behind a patch of cattails while chugging a plug across a pond on his grandmother's farm.
 

PlaceofDis

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Jan 6, 2004
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iGary said:
I couldn't find any precedent in Strunk and White, AP or Chicago that made sense, but I also don't want the guy thinking I am an idiot for adding the comma (I've already sent the piece in, and this is my first whack after they revised it).
yes you use the comma.
its called for because its a modifier. notice that the clause could easily be moved to the end of the sentence with no comma added in there because that is where it would belong in a structurally simple sentence.

thats the best way i can explain it other than saying: Yes the comma belongs there just because its right.
 

MalcolmJID

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PlaceofDis said:
yes you use the comma.
its called for because its a modifier. notice that the clause could easily be moved to the end of the sentence with no comma added in there because that is where it would belong in a structurally simple sentence.

thats the best way i can explain it other than saying: Yes the comma belongs there just because its right.
He can explain it! :D
 

iGary

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dynamicv said:
I'd do it the Management Consultant way :)
See that's the way I started it -

"Rewind 50 years ago: Joe Bruce..."

They changed it...

I'll just make a comment suggesting a comma, I guess.
 

iGary

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skunk said:
In totally unpunctuated prose: awesome.

Yes to the comma, definitely.
I added it with comment.

I'm actually fly-fishing with the editor tonight, I'll razz him about it. :D