Learn English – Commas and Qualifying Phrases


I had just asked a comma-related question and, having received an answer, now realize I was asking the wrong question. So, please review the following sentence, arbitrarily taken from Bachelard's The Poetics of Space:

"Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as
home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams."

The aforementioned sentence consists of two independent clauses. Why, then, is there not a comma before "and"? And could there be?

Now, from something I'd recently penned:

"… , and moving forward, actionable (i.e., interpretable and usable) data sets will prove to be a key element of successful marketing strategies."

In this instance, I'd placed the comma prior to the conjunction and treated the entire phrase, "moving forward," as part of that conjunction.

Are both of these examples correct? Are neither (i.e., should there technically be a comma before Bachelard's "and" and before my "moving forward")?

Best Answer

Yes, the quotation from Bachelard would be better with a comma before the "and", rather than after. However, it would be even better with a semicolon replacing the "and":

  • ". . .the same tonality as home; by recalling these memories, . . . "

It would not be good punctuation to leave out all commas. One would not say this sentence aloud with no pause, so one should not write it without any punctuation.

As for your own sentence: first of all, "moving forward" is generally useless fluff. It is businessese, signifying nothing. We are all always moving forward in time. It would be better left out.

Worse yet, when you use "moving forward" in the way you did, it comes close to saying that the data will be moving forward!

But if you keep it, you need punctuation both before and after the "and", because the adverbial phrase "moving forward" acts as a sentence modifier for the ending clause. Unless the first clause (which you never showed us) is very short, you probably need a semicolon before the "and". Thus:

  • "; and, going forward, actionable. . ."