Interrupted Conjunctions

Rules


Terms to know


Participial: A verb ending in –ing or –ed  or –n that is functioning as an adjective (meaning it is modifying a noun or pronoun)

Adverbial phrase: A group of words that function as an adverb (describes a verb, adjective, or other adverb)

Dependent clause: Contains a subject and a verb but isn’t a complete thought

Coordinating Conjunction: The coordinating conjunctions are “for,” “and,” “nor, “but,” “or,” “yet,” so.


Examples

She didn’t stretch before she ran, and having been a gymnast, she knew the importance of stretching.

  • Comma goes before the coordinating conjunction “and” because it is joining two independent clauses: “she didn’t stretch before she ran” and “having been a gymnast, she knew …”
  • The participial phrase = “having been a gymnast”

She failed the physical and, having been an elite gymnast, was upset.

  • Comma goes after the coordinating conjunction “and” because it is not joining two independent clauses: “was upset” is not a complete clause.
  • Participial phrase = “having been an elite gymnast”

This sentence is just following the principle of having a pair of commas around your unrestrictive participial phrase, so don’t let the inclusion of a coordinating conjunction trick you.

Smith’s first book was a runaway hit, and before she could catch her breath, her publisher was demanding a sequel.

  • Comma goes before the coordinating conjunction “and” because it is joining two independent clauses: “Smith’s first book was a runaway hit” and “before she could catch her breath,…”
  • Dependent clause = “before she could catch her breath”

 

Note:

As you learned in the commas with participial phrases blog, commas go on both sides of nonrestrictive participial phrases. And as you learned in the commas with coordinating conjunctions blog, a comma goes before a coordinating conjunction joining two independent clauses.

So that would mean, you would have this:

She didn’t stretch before she ran, and, having been a gymnast, she knew the importance of stretching.

Smith’s first book was a runaway hit, and, before she could catch her breath, her publisher was demanding a sequel.

A comma before the conjunction “and,” then a pair of commas around the participial phrase “having been a gymnast” (first example) and a pair of commas around the dependent clause “before she could catch her breath” (second example).

However, to avoid comma clutter, you don’t need to put that comma in unless you want to for emphasis or clarity.


Practice

  1. We activated the alarm but still reeling from the effects of carbon monoxide failed to notice that the intruded was already inside.
  2. She wrote two successful books and despite her shyness became a sought-after speaker.
  3. I didn’t know that rule but before I could tell them that they whisked me away.
  4. We were elated but realizing that the day was almost over we decided to go to bed.
  5. She drank most of the beer but singing a silly song swore she wasn’t drunk. 
  6. I graded the test and in a state of panic I forgot to calculate the score. 
  7. She meandered up the aisle and keeping her gaze forward she left the room.
  8.  

*Note some of these examples come from CMoS online and CMoS Shop Talk.


Answers

  1. We activated the alarm but, still reeling from the effects of carbon monoxide, failed to notice that the intruded was already inside. (“but” isn’t joining two independent clauses)
  2. She wrote two successful books and, despite her shyness, became a sought-after speaker. (“and” isn’t joining two independent clauses)
  3. I didn’t know that rule, but before I could tell them that, they whisked me away. (“but” is joining two independent clauses)
  4. We were elated, but realizing that the day was almost over, we decided to go to bed.(“but” is joining two independent clauses)
  5. She drank most of the beer but, singing a silly song, swore she wasn’t drunk.  (“but” isn’t joining two independent clauses) 
  6. I graded the test, and in a state of panic, I forgot to calculate the score. (“and” is joining two independent clauses)
  7. She meandered up the aisle, and keeping her gaze forward, she left the room. (“and” isn’t joining two independent clasues)

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