Punctuating a Clarification
Which of these sentences is accurately written and puncuated?
(A) They help me express my deepest emotions whether happy or sad. (Should a comma be placed between emotions and whether?)
(B) They help me express my deepest emotions, both happy and sad.
(C) They help me express my deepest emotions--happy or sad.
All three sentences end with a dependent clause -- "whether happy or sad", "both happy and sad", and "happy or sad". When the concluding dependent clause is restrictive -- that is, essential to the meaning of the main clause -- no comma is used. However, when the dependent clause is nonrestrictive -- that is, supplementary or parenthetical -- a comma is required.
In all three of your sentences, the dependent clause is nonrestrictive because it can be removed without changing the meaning of the main clause. Therefore, a comma is required in all three sentences.
An em dash (represented by the paired hyphens in #C here) may substitute for a comma. It represents a more emphatic break or pause in the flow of the sentence.
|link||answered Jul 07 '12 at 04:37 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow|
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