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Subject:Comma rules and the imperative From:Jim Lockard <norton -at- MEGSINET -dot- NET> Date:Thu, 5 Nov 1998 12:42:13 -0600
Here's a troublesome question I'd like
to get some feedback on:
In the sentence, "Type a new filename, and
click OK," is it grammatically correct to
include or omit the comma before the "and"?
We often use the imperative voice (or is
it a "tense") when we write instructions.
The sentence subject, in the imperative,
is an implied "you" as in, "Choose Save
from the File menu."
The grammar rules I know clearly call for
a comma before a conjunction that joins
two independent clauses. Take, for example,
the sentence, "A Windoze PC is a hobby, but
a Macintosh is a tool." You need the comma
because the phrase, "a Macintosh is a tool,"
is an independent clause. So, if both clauses
in the imperative sentence example are
independent, you need a comma.
What's causing me trouble is this: Since
the subject is implied, can we not assume
that the second clause ("click OK") is not
truly independent in that it shares the
subject with the first clause--as in, "I
read the directions and crashed my computer"?
If there's any interest, I'll summarize the