Last week, I came across the following quote in a book about finances:
Most large brokerage houses will not touch speculative transactions to protect themselves and their clients.
At first reading, the meaning is not clear because the order is odd. Changing the order and adding a comma would correct that:
To protect themselves and their clients, most large brokerage houses will not touch speculative transactions.
The purpose of a comma is to denote a slight pause, and when it’s in the right place, it helps readers arrive at the end without a hitch. Alternatively, when a comma is someplace it doesn’t belong, it interrupts the flow. Here’s an example from the same book:
One type of taxation, is a tax on “real property.”
Do you see how the flow stops right after the comma? Removing the comma would fix this problem:
One type of taxation is a tax on “real property.”
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