comma/not before 'down' [meaning?, adverb]: dropped steeply, down to

Discussion in 'English Only' started by winoff, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. winoff New Member

    "Near the fence the ground dropped steeply(,) down to the pond below."

    How is the meaning changed by removing or keeping the comma? Or is one version (with or without the comma) is plain wrong?
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hello winoff

    Personally, I would probably use the "without comma" version.

    I can't see that the comma adds anything, myself....
  3. compaqdrew Senior Member

    English - AE
    +1 on Loob's answer

    By way of further explanation, a comma is not commonly used with independent-dependent clause order.

    I might see the comma use in poetry or some other lyrical context.
  4. winoff New Member

    For this then:
    "For a time, Loughner drank heavily, to the point of poisoning himself, the friends said. "

    So, the comma between "drank heavily" and "to the point" is not necessary?
  5. compaqdrew Senior Member

    English - AE
    If you remove the reported speech:

    "Loughner drank heavily, to the point of poisoning himself" :tick:
    "Loughner drank heavily to the point of poisoning himself" :tick:

    However, in the context of reporting the statement of the friends, I find the omission of the comma problematic. The use of a quotation would be okay:

    For a time, "Lougher drank heavily to the point of poisoning himself," the friends said. :tick:

    "For a time, Loughner drank heavily to the point of poisoning himself," the friends said. :tick:

    The addition of the comma here makes it clearer that the author intends the second meaning. In the spoken context, AmE readers are used to pacing and tone as a signal to indicate quotation marks. The use of a comma here, when read aloud, would be more consistent with the type of pacing and tone that would indicate the entire statement is the sentiment of the friends, and it helps in the written context as well.
  6. winoff New Member

    So, without any other complications, the following would always be the same:

    "Revenue dropped slightly, to $1 million."
    "Revenue dropped slightly to $1 million."

    The choice of either one over the other is for the purpose of mix-and-matching sentence lengths.
  7. compaqdrew Senior Member

    English - AE
    Your examples about revenue seem interchangeable to me. But I am not sure what you mean by "mix-and-matching sentence lengths".
  8. winoff New Member

    I meant getting sentence variety by alternative comma-less sentences with comma-ful sentences.
  9. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    It is not usual to use commas in such sentences.
    However, when they are read out aloud, you can pause for effect after the verb. What this effect is I don't know -- perhaps it gives what follows more emphasis or perhaps, as you said, it results in sentence variety.
    If you pause (or write a comma) too much, it becomes a mannerism and thus becomes pointless. This is true particularly of your first sentence ("Near the fence.......").

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