Friday, October 19, 2007

Misplaced Commas in Pakistan

Bomb Attack Kills Scores in Pakistan as Bhutto Arrives


Published: October 19, 2007

The strong outpouring provided an emotional homecoming for Ms. Bhutto and political vindication of sorts for a woman twice turned out of office as prime minister, after being accused of corruption and mismanagement.

The comma after “minister” is redundant. It cuts off a restrictive adverbial prepositional phrase (gerund phrase as object of preposition). In normal syntax, adverbs occupy the end position: subject-verb-object (if there is an object)-adverb. Only if you move the end-position adverbs to the beginning or middle of the sentence do adverbs—word, phrase, or clause—get commas because the relocated adverbs disturb normal syntax. They remain restrictive wherever you put them: beginning, middle, or end.

It also demonstrated that she remained a potent political force in Pakistan, even after her long absence, and marked what supporters and opponents alike agreed was a new political chapter for the nation.

Here the adverbial phrase “even…” has commas correctly because it has moved from the end to the middle of the sentence and disturbed normal syntax, It remains restrictive.

Many young men said they were unemployed, but had traveled hundreds of miles, paying their own way, and camping out overnight on the road to the airport to await her arrival.

The comma after “unemployed” is redundant: it splits a compound verb—“were unemployed” but “had traveled.” The comma after “miles” is redundant: it cuts off a restrictive present participial phrases modifying “men”; the one after “way” is redundant because it separates a compound participial phrase modifying “men.”


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

free webpage hit counter