A Most Troublesome Construction

Sequential References Reading A Most Troublesome Construction 3 minutes Next The Word "Please"
In my September newsletter, I posted this discussion. The October issue will be out in a few days, and I will go on to explain the punctuation. So before I do that, here is the original discussion: ...I expect that (after he reads my letter) he will not want to speak to me. ...We know that (upon exiting the train station) you have to go to the left. ...He testified that (at the end of a very long day) he liked to have a beer or two. We seem to have “issues” (made worse by the “bad grammar” that some people use) with how to punctuate this construction. First, we need to understand the grammar. It is always true that understanding the grammar in a sentence makes punctuation easier. Do you see a grammar class in our future? I do. Each main verb in these sentences has a direct object, which is an entire dependent clause. We call this dependent clause a noun clause because it has a noun function. A direct object answers the question whom or what after the verb. ...I expect a letter from him. (I expect what?) ...We know that man. (We know whom?)| ...He said those words. (He said what?) ...I expect what? I expect that he will not want to speak to me. ...We know what? I know that you have to go to the left. ...He said what? He said that he liked to have a beer or two. The underlined portion is the direct object for the verb in each sentence. Before I go on, is there any way that you would like a comma in these sentences? How about a comma after that? Is there any way you can justify putting a single comma anywhere in any one of these sentences? ...I expect that, he will not want to speak to me. (Does that comma work?) ...We know that, you have to go to the left. (Does this comma work?) ...He testified that, he liked to have a beer or two. (Do you want to separate these?) Please remember that you don’t like a single comma there to separate the parts of the sentence. Now that you understand the grammar of the construction and you do not want any comma separating anything, in the upcoming newsletter, we will see what to do about the punctuation when elements are dropped into the clause. Happy punctuating! Margie