(,) compared to what he owes me

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jesusguime

Banned
Chinese
The amount of money you owe Jake is nothing, compared to what he owes me.


Hi,
Is the comma in the above optional? If yes, would it cause confusion to the base sentence? Thanks.
 
  • Starfrown

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I would probably not use a comma in that sentence. I was not confused, but I did think it very poorly placed. If a pause for effect is desired I would probably use a dash:

    The amount of money you owe Jake is nothing--compared to what he owes me.

    Others may differ on this.
     
    Last edited:

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The purpose of a comma is not to indicate pauses.
    The purpose of a comma is to ensure that the sentence conveys meaning clearly.
    Putting a comma in this sentence creates confusion.
    The really important message is that the amount you owe Jake is "nothing compared to what he owes me."
    If you insert any kind of break after nothing the sentence tells me that "The amount of money you owe Jake is nothing." Is that what you want to say?
    I don't think so.
    Hence the confusion.
     

    poss

    Member
    México-Español
    Jesusguime I wouldn't use a comma, it could mean the end of the idea and creat confusion, the reader may think that the idea after the comma is a different subject, that happened to me when I read it the first time. Let me explain better:
     

    poss

    Member
    México-Español
    sorry I couldn't finish in the other reply.

    The amount of money you owe jake is nothing, compared to what he owes me...
    I though that having a falling tone on ''nothing'' and a rising tone on ''me'' you would continue the sentence saying something like: compared to what he owes me what anybody could owe him doesn't count. Or something like that.
    I hope you understand what I mean.
     
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