Q. Hi, I have a simple comma question. Here’s the sentence:
Readers will understand that he is subject to the expectation that he must be the sole financial provider for his family, and that he is hesitant to get married because he is unemployed and without prospects.
I think the comma is unnecessary, since “that he is hesitant to get married because he is unemployed and without prospects” is not really an independent clause. Plus, it seems clear and readable enough without it. But it was pointed out to me that “he is hesitant to get married because he is unemployed and without prospects” is an independent clause, so there should be a comma. What do you say?
A. All dependent clauses contain an independent one; your critic is throwing you a red herring. When you stick that in front of a clause, it suddenly has to depend on another clause to make grammatical sense—that’s why we call it “dependent.” I agree with your analysis about the comma, but it’s not wrong to add a comma in such a long sentence in order to give the reader a breather. Sometimes, however, that need for a breather hints that a sentence could be improved by rewriting.