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When two or more nouns occur in the same construction, they are parted by a comma : as, 'Reason, virtue, answer one great aim:' 'The husband, wife and children, suffered extremely:'* 'They took away their furniture, clothes, and stock in trade :' 'He is alternately supported by his father, his uncle, and his elder brother.'
From this rule there is mostly an exception, with regard to two nouns closely connected by a conjunction : as, 'Virtue and vice form a strong contrast to each other:' 'Libertines call religion bigotry or superstition :' 'There is a natural difference between merit and demerit, virtue and vice, wisdom and folly.' But if the parts connected are not short, a comma may be inserted, though the conjunction is expressed : as, 'Romances may be said to be miserable rhapsodies, or dangerous incentives to evil;' 'Intemperance destroys the strength of our bodies, and the vigor of our minds.'
Two or more adjectives belonging to the same substantive, are likewise separated by commas : as,' Plain, honest truth, wants no artificial covering:' 'David was a brave, wise, and pious man;' 'A woman, gentle, sensible, well-educated, and religious;' 'The most innocent pleasures are the sweetest, the most rational, the most affecting, and the most lasting.'
But two adjectives, immediately connected by a conjunction, are not separated by a comma: as,' True worth is modest and retired ;' ' Truth is fair and artless, simple and sincere, uniform and consistent.' 'We must be wise or foolish ; there is no medium.'
* As a considerable pause in pronunciation is necessary between the last noun and the verb, a comma should be inserted to denote it. But as no pause is allowable between the last adjective and the noun, under Rule IV. the comma is there properly omitted.—See Walker's Elements of Elocution.
Two or more verbs, having the same nominative case, and immediately following one another, are also separated by commas : as, 'Virtue supports in adversity, moderates in prosperity :" In a letter, we may advise, exhort, comfort, request, and discuss.'
Two verbs immediately connected by a conjunction, are an exception to the above rule : as, 'The study of natural history expands and elevates the mind ;'' Whether we eat or drink, labor or sleep, we should be moderate.'
Two or more participles are subject to a similar rule, and exception : as, 'A man, fearing, serving, and loving, his Creator :' ' He was happy in being loved, esteemed, and respected ;' ' By being admired and flattered, we are often corrupted.'
Two or more adverbs immediately succeeding one another, must be separated by commas: as, 'We are fearfully, wonderfully framed;' 'Success generally depends on acting prudently, steadily, and vigorously, in what we undertake.'
But when two adverbs are joined by a conjunction, they are not parted by the comma : as, 'Some men sin deliberately and presumptuously;' 'There is no middle state ; we must live virtuously or viciously.'
RULE VII. When participles are followed by something that depends on them, they are generally separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma : as,' The king, approving the plan, put it in execution;' 'His talents, formed for great enterprises, could not fail of rendering him conspicuous ;'' All mankind compose one family, assembled under the eye of one common Father.'
RULE VIII. When a conjunction is divided by a phrase or sentence from the verb to which it belongs, such intervening phrase has usually a comma at each extremity: as, 'They set out early, and, before the close of the day, arrived at the destined place.'
RULE IX. Expressions in a direct address, are separated from the rest of the sentence by commas : a3, 'My son, give me thy heart;' ' I am obliged to you, my friends, for your many favors.'
RULE X. The case or nominative absolute, and the infinitive mode absolute, are separated by commas from the body of the sentence : as, ' His father dying, he succeeded to the estate ;' 'At length, their ministry performed, and race well run, they left the world in peace ;' 'To confess the truth, I was much in fault.'
Nouns in apposition, that is, nouns added to other nouns in the same case, by way of explication or illustration, when accompained with adjuncts, are sefoff by commas: as, 'Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, was eminent for his zeal and knowledge;' 'The butterfly, child of the summer, flutters in the sun.'
But if such nouns are single, or only form a proper name, they are not divided: as, 'Paul the apostle;' 'The emperor Antoninus wrote an excellent book.'
Simple members of sentences connected by comparatives, are, for the most part, distinguished by a comma: as, '-As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so doth my soul pant after thee;' 'Better is a dinner of herbs with love, than a stalled ox and hatred with it.'
If the members in comparative sentences are short, the comma is, in general, better omitted. as, 'How much Letter is it to get wisdom than gold !' 'Mankind act ojtenr er from caprice than reason.'
When words are placed in opposition to each other, or with some marked variety, they require to be distinguished by a comma : as,
'Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
'Good men, in this frail, imperfect state, are often found, not only in union with, but in opposition to, the views and conduct of one another.'
Sometimes, when the word with which the last preposi-' tion agrees, is single, it is better to omit the comma before it: as, ' Many states were in alliance with, and under the protection q/'Rome.'
The same rule and restriction must be applied, when two or more nouns refer to the surne preposition: as, 'He was composed, both under the threatening, and at the approach, of a cruel and lingering death;' 'He was not only the king, but the father of his people.'
RULE XIV. A remarkable expression, or a short observation, somewhat in manner of a quotation, may be properly marked with a comma : as, 'It hurts a man's pride to say, I do not know ;' ' Plutarch calls lying, the vice of slaves.'
Relative pronouns are connective words, and generally admit a comma before them: as, 'He preaches sublimely, who lives a sober, righteous, and pious life;' 'There is no charm in the female sex, which can supply the place of virtue.'
But when two members, or phrases, are closely connected by a relative, restraining the general notion of the antecedent to a particular sense, the comma should be omitted : as, ' Self-denial is the sacrifice which virtue must make ;' 'A man who is of a detracting spirit, will misconstrue the most innocent words that can be put together.' In the latter example, the assertion is not of ' a man in general,' but of 'a man who is of a detracting spirit;' and therefore they should not be separated.
The fifteenth rule applies equally to cases in which the relative is not expressed, but understood: as, 'It was from piety, warm and unaffected, that his morals derived strength.' 'This sentiment, habitual and strong, influenced his whole conduct.' In both of these examples, the relative and the verb which teas, are understood.
A simple member of a sentence, contained within another, or following another, must be distinguished by the comma : as, ' to improve time, whilst we are blessed with health, will smooth the bed of sickness.' 'Very often, while we are complaining of the vanity, and the evils of human life, we make that vanity, and we increase those evils.'
If, however, the members succeeding each other, are very closely connected, the comma is unnecessary; as, 'Revelation tells us how we may attain happiness.'
When a verb in the infinitive mode follows its governing verb, with several words between them, those words should generally have a comma at the end of them : as, 'It ill becomes good and wise men, to oppose and degrade one another.'
Several verbs in the infinitive mode, having a common dependence, and succeeding one another, are also divided by commas: as, 'To relieve the indigent, to comfort the afflicted, to protect the innocent, to reward the deserving, are humane and noble employments.'
RULE XVII. When the verb to be is followed by a verb in the infinitive, which, by transposition, might be made the nominative case to it, the former is generally separated from the latter verb, by a comma : as, 'The most obvious remedy is, to withdraw from all associations with bad men.' 'The first and most obvious remedy against the infection, is, to withdraw from all association witli bad men.'