Author Topic: secondary usage and style manual  (Read 9667 times)

Offline bookworm

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secondary usage and style manual
« on: December 17, 2016, 09:43:45 am »
I've learned that only one usage and style manual must be used by a writer or institution for the sake of consistency. However, some style manuals are like a pocket book with limited examples.

For example, our company has decided to use Strunk and EB White's The Elements of Style (4th ed.). I believe the book states that when independent clauses are joined by coordinating conjunctions, a comma precedes the conjunction. This rule also appears in other style manuals. But let me give an example sentence that does not appear in that book:

He played the piano, and she sang.

Here, we are required to put a comma even when the two independent clauses are very short and closely connected. I think our institution assumes that this rule applies to all cases. However, the example sentences in The Elements of Style are not short. Personally, I find this style ugly because I prefer to omit the comma as suggested by CMOS and other usage and style manuals. 

He played the piano and she sang.

I have two questions:

1) Can we assume that Strunk is referring to all cases including those with very short sentences?
2) Is it advisable to refer to a secondary style manual when the issue is not discussed in your primary manual?
English is my second language.

Offline Darryl

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Re: secondary usage and style manual
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2016, 11:13:56 am »
1. If the book is referring to all compound sentences including short sentences like the one you quoted, then I think the inflexible rule of putting a comma before the conjunction is suspect. I can see the need for a comma in long and involved compound sentences, but common sense must prevail.
2. If your primary manual conflicts with what you know to be right, then certainly consult another. Or just switch to another style guide.

Offline Britta

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Re: secondary usage and style manual
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2017, 02:20:56 pm »
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If it's not used by a native speaker it's not idiomatic. And idiom trumps grammar every time. Jack Wilkerson

Offline Gunraryux

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Re: secondary usage and style manual
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2018, 08:54:06 am »
Like I have long seen this issue. This is a good example. With this interesting debate again.

Offline davel

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Re: secondary usage and style manual
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2018, 09:24:03 am »
Back to the original question of "to comma or not to comma", I think the best thing is to read the sentence out loud and let your ear be the judge. Do you need to pause where you are considering putting a comma? If so, then put it in.