Mystery Robin said...
Quick follow up question re: your "because I failed Algebra" example. I thought "because" was always preceeded by a comma, just like 'and' or 'but'.
Is that not a hard and fast rule? Or not a rule at all and I'm just confused?
"And" and "But" are coordinating conjunctions. That is, they (among other roles) connect two independent clauses, and yes, in that case, they are preceded by a comma (or rather, the first independent clause is followed by a comma and the conjunction to the second independent clause). This is called a "compound sentence" because it connects two units of equal grammatical weight (both independent clauses-- can be sentences on their own).
But "because" is a subordinating conjunction, which subordinates or makes a clause subordinate, dependent rather than independent. The dependent clause cannot be a sentence on its own. When you use a dependent clause with an independent clause, this becomes a "complex" sentence-- complex because you are presenting a distinction between the two elements, one being more important (the main/independent clause) than the other.
The "because" (or "although" or "as" or "before" -- there are a couple dozen of these) is called the "subordinating conjunction". The rule is-- when the dependent clause comes first in the sentence, there's a comma after it. But when it comes AFTER the main clause, there's no comma.
I occasionally put a comma in there to separate the independent/main clause from the trailing dependent clause, especially with "because"-- when? I think when it's clearly a conclusion and the comma signifies that, or when it's non-restrictive (not necessary).
But the rule is, dependent clause comma independent clause.... independent clause no-comma dependent clause. Of course, here I go again-- if we know the rule, we can then violate it for a desired effect, as long as we understand the editor might change it back. :)
Let me see if I have a link to a punctuation website.