although and while

arjun78

Senior Member
India-Hindi
Hi,

I know people often say a comma should be avoided with although since it introduces a subordinate clause. But is that a hard and fast rule? I find it better to place a comma in a long sentence; it makes it easier to read.

Also regarding while: if it describes actions performed at the same time, no comma. Otherwise, it functions like whereas and so requires a comma. They talked while he was packing. (simultaneous). They were angry, while he was sad. (functions like whereas)

Can someone comment on this?

Arjun
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I generally use this principle: When I begin a sentence with although, I set that dependent clause off with a comma:

    Although I like cherry pie, I like apple better.

    When I place that clause at the end of a sentence, I leave the comma out:

    I like apple pie pretty well although I like cherry better.
     

    campeol

    Member
    English - Canada
    people often say a comma should be avoided with although since it introduces a subordinate clause.

    When the subordinate clause strongly contrasts with the main clause, there should be a comma. For example:
    I was excited to go home, although I would miss waking up to the sound of the waves.

    Without a comma, the sentence reads in an odd way because the different ideas run together. I think in general, however, these types of contrasting clauses are written with the subordinate clause at the beginning of the sentence, simply because they sound better that way - plus then the comma dilemma is avoided ;). This site explains it quite clearly:
    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02/

    Also regarding while: if it describes actions performed at the same time, no comma. Otherwise, it functions like whereas and so requires a comma. They talked while he was packing. (simultaneous). They were angry, while he was sad. (functions like whereas)

    The same idea of contrast requiring a comma seems to apply here. "They were angry, while he was sad" needs the comma to separate the two clauses because they oppose one another. Without the comma, it would sound like the author meant They were being angry while he was being sad - the subtle suggestion of simultaneous events. I think again, the sentence would more likely be written "While he was sad, they were angry", which sounds smoother.
     
    Last edited:

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    When the subordinate clause strongly contrasts with the main clause, there should be a comma. For example:
    I was excited to go home, although I would miss waking up to the sound of the waves.

    Without a comma, the sentence reads in an odd way because the different ideas run together. I think in general, however, these types of contrasting clauses are written with the subordinate clause at the beginning of the sentence, simply because they sound better that way - plus then the comma dilemma is avoided ;). This site explains it quite clearly:
    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02/



    The same idea of contrast requiring a comma seems to apply here. "They were angry, while he was sad" needs the comma to separate the two clauses because they oppose one another. Without the comma, it would sound like the author meant They were being angry while he was being sad - the subtle suggestion of simultaneous events. I think again, the sentence would more likely be written "While he was sad, they were angry", which sounds smoother.
    I think the things you speak of in your reply are really matters of style. That is, you are likely to find more than one "correct" answer concerning the use of commas with "although". Lately I've been trying to reduce the number of commas in my own writing as long as the meaning is clear. For instance, I could have set "lately" off with a comma in the previous sentence. I didn't. I don't think it was necessary.
     

    campeol

    Member
    English - Canada
    I think the things you speak of in your reply are really matters of style. That is, you are likely to find more than one "correct" answer concerning the use of commas with "although". Lately I've been trying to reduce the number of commas in my own writing as long as the meaning is clear. For instance, I could have set "lately" off with a comma in the previous sentence. I didn't. I don't think it was necessary.

    Absolutely, it's always a question of style and personal preference. I hadn't ever actually thought about the rules, per se, regarding the use of commas and 'although' until googling it earlier and realizing I followed the same guidelines as that site. I just happen to stand by using commas where there's contrast. But I agree that meaning is key and that as long as it's clear (and assuming no hard and fast rules have been broken), commas are often subjective.
     
    Top