continued(,) muffled


Senior Member
Example sentence:

"I checked the text message as the class continued(,) muffled in the background."

Should that comma be there? Why or why not?
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    It needs to be there. "Muffled in the background" is a parenthesis (it is not essential to the meaning) and it also describes an earlier word in the sentence (children), not the one it immediately follows (continued). Both these situations require commas.

    Do you say in a previous sentence what the class is doing? You aren't trying to use "muffled in the background" to say what the class continues doing, are you?


    Senior Member
    English - England
    It would make sense to describe the class as continuing in the background, with a separate – and separated – adverbial stating that the background noise of the class was muffled. But the sentence as it stands doesn’t work, either with or without its single comma, since “muffled in the background” makes no sense. At the very least, it needs two commas:

    I checked the text message as the class continued, muffled, in the background.​