Is the use of a comma correct in this sentence: "Eddie’s father could not accept that his son had stood up to him, and therefore alienated himself from his family."?

1 Answer

The "and" and the "comma" are at odds - you need to pick one.


If we compare the two versions, the "and" asks us to focus on Dad alienating himself and has secondarily Dad's attitude as the cause. The "comma" focuses more on Dad's attitude and then shows secondarily the result.

A comma, at least in the way it's being used in this sentence, asks the reader to pause. It's a breath mark of sorts. I can use it like that in this way:

"Eddie's father, Bernard, believed that children should be seen and not heard."

So the commas set the name of Eddie's father apart and with that, there is a pause.

So now to where it is placed in the question. The sentence is picking up some steam with Eddie's father and his nonacceptance of his son standing up to him and the word "and" is an invitation to keep that energy rolling through the rest of the sentence. And then there's the comma - a hiccup in the breathlessness of the sentence, a bump in the road on the highway of energy rushing through the words.

If you wanted a comma there, if a pause is what is being asked for, then the "and" needs to go and it'd look something like this:

"Eddie’s father could not accept that his son had stood up to him, therefore alienating himself from his family."