...but, within six months he has vanished...

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Karen123456

Senior Member
Malaysia English
"You believed in his promises but, within six months, he has vanished from the political scene!"

The above is from a local newspaper.

Should it be "You believed in his promises, but within six months, he has vanished from the political scene!"? [The comma before "but" instead of after "but".]

Thanks.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    "Within six months" can be removed and you still have a coherent sentence. Try that with "but within six months." :)
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    No. "Within six months" needs to be set of by either two commas or zero. And the two halves of the sentence ("...promised | but...") can optionally be separated by a comma. Using those rules, the only real possibilities are the following:

    1. You believed in his promises but within six months he has vanished from the political scene!
    2. You believed in his promises, but, within six months, he has vanished from the political scene!
    3. You believed in his promises but, within six months, he has vanished from the political scene!​

    But the sentence is too complex not to use any commas, so sentence 1 is a bad choice. Sentence 2 is fine, but many authors would feel that it uses too many commas, and is excessively choppy. So sentence 3 -- which is what you saw in the newspaper -- is probably the best choice.
     
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