This Is for Work so Bear with Me

Two independent clauses joined with the conjunction because should have a comma before the word because, right? Not always. If the independent clause following the word because is an adverbial modifier, it is actually a dependent clause, and the word because is actually a subordinating conjunction. Whether or not it requires a comma depends on whether the clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive. One of the telltale marks of an adverb (or adverbial modifier) is mobility, so if you can move the because part of the sentence to a different place and the sentence still makes sense, you’ve got yourself a dependent (adverbial) clause. But determining whether the clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive can get fuzzy. Nonrestrictive clauses are not necessary to the meaning of the sentence and therefore require a comma (or commas) to set them off. In other words, the information in the nonrestrictive clause is already implied or included in the phrase the nonrestrictive clause is modifying. A restrictive clause, then, is necessary to the meaning of the sentence and therefore does not require a comma (or commas). Often these are conditional in nature, restricting the meaning of the sentence to the conditions set out in the modifying clause. But it’s not always so cut and dried. I can’t even make sense of all the examples in The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.) 5.34.

I just had to sort that out for myself. I’d use examples to make things clearer, but (1) I am far too lazy and (2) there are plenty of other sites that explain this grammar much more fully and with many more examples. Also, I am lazy. And again, this is primarily for my benefit. Writing these things down allows you to think through it more thoroughly.


1 comment so far

  1. chad on

    Did you write this, because you wanted us to benefit? I did read it because I write a lot. I wish it was, because I had a lot of spare time.

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