Comma When Joining Two Independent Clauses With 'And'

Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2020
Chantilly, Virginia, US
Is it preferred to have a comma when two separate statements are joined with 'and'? I've checked a couple of references and this seems correct, but I feel it just looks wrong. Example:

I worked all day, and I fell into bed exhausted.​
I worked all day and I fell into bed exhausted.​
Which do you find preferable?
In that case I think I'd prefer without. The sentence is short anyway, there's no reason to add a pause there, and without is cleaner.
Here's a discussion of the topic:

Technically, the first one is correct, because the two clauses could be written as separate sentences, and are not extremely short. (For example, "I worked and I slept" would be OK.)

I might actually suggest this instead:

I worked all day and fell into bed exhausted.

Eliminating the "I" keeps the clauses from being independent (i.e. they cannot be written as separate sentences.) In this way, you eliminate the comma, so the two clauses are bound together more strongly. (I assume this is your intent. You fell into bed exhausted because you worked all day; the two clauses are closely related.)

I hope this helps!
I agree with Harebrain that the second version is better, but I think Victoria has nailed it by dropping the second I.
And if it's in one of the challenges, you've saved yourself a word to boot.:)
Not all instances will have the same subject in both phrases, and I dislike the idea of rewriting just because I don't know the proper punctuation. From Victoria's reference, the following is flagged as correct and requires including the subject in both clauses,

It’s cold outside, and I can’t find my coat.​
I still feel like the comma is unnecessary and intrusive, but I am going to proceed with using it and see if I can train myself otherwise.
I also struggle with this. (For background, it might even be more difficult for me in that I am in that 10-20% of readers who are visual instead of auditory—that is, I don't typically "hear" the text in my mind as I read. Many people don't even know this distinction exists and assume everyone hears books in their head while they read the same way they do.)

Anyway, when deciding whether or not to use the comma, I have to force myself to either read it out loud or to imagine someone speaking it so that I hear it in my head. I do this because, I believe (rightly or wrongly) the answer depends on how much of a pause you want the reader to take at that point. Same thing goes for sentence fragments, which are almost always grammatically incorrect, but sometimes are the right story-telling choice (say, for a noir vibe). I use those for even more of a pause.

It's easy to forget that the punctuation 'rules' are there for reasons and not to be mechanically applied just because.

The counterpoint, of course, is that there are those readers who own internalizations of grammar interfere with their enjoyment of works that don't adhere to strict grammatical structures. Folks like that always remind me of the joke: 'This is the type of pedantry up with which I will not put!'
My personal opinion is that if you have to take a breath when reading a sentence, it requires a comma.

Personally though I would try to avoid 'and' wherever possible, as well as a repetition of any words (in this case 'I').

Having worked all day, I fell into bed exhausted.

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