Consider this sentence, please:

1) I work as a programmer, mostly building ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the database.

Question 1): Can we remove the comma, without changing the meaning of the sentence?

Question 2): Is sentence 1) equivalent in meaning to:

I work as a programmer. I mostly build ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the database.

Original Post

Hello, Language learner, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

1) I work as a programmer, mostly building ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the database.

Question 1): Can we remove the comma, without changing the meaning of the sentence?

Question 2): Is sentence 1) equivalent in meaning to:

I work as a programmer. I mostly build ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the database.

Those are interesting questions. I'll give you my opinion and hope David, our moderator, can give us his view.

I think that "mostly building..." can be parsed as a relative or an adverbial clause:

1.a. I work as a programmer who mostly builds ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the/a database.

1.b. I work as a programmer mostly by building ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the/a database.

According to your question (2), the meaning you want to convey seems to be closer to 1.b., because the subject of "build" is "I" rather than "all/some programmers" even though, being a programmer, you claim to be one who builds that kind of applications.

In answer to your question (1), I think the comma can be omitted but should perhaps be kept because it would otherwise sound like a restrictive relative (1.a.).

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor

Hello, Language learner, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

Those are interesting questions. I'll give you my opinion and hope David, our moderator, can give us his view.

I think that "mostly building..." can be parsed as a relative or an adverbial clause:

1.a. I work as a programmer who mostly builds ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the/a database.

1.b. I work as a programmer mostly by building ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the/a database.

According to your question (2), the meaning you want to convey seems to be closer to 1.b., because the subject of "build" is "I" rather than "all/some programmers" even though, being a programmer, you claim to be one who builds that kind of applications.

In answer to your question (1), I think the comma can be omitted but should perhaps be kept because it would otherwise sound like a restrictive relative (1.a.).

This is a really good answer

Those are interesting questions. I'll give you my opinion and hope David, our moderator, can give us his view.

Hello, Language learner, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

I agree with Gustavo's answer and with his sense that it is better to keep the comma, lest the participial clause be interpreted as a nonfinite/reduced restrictive relative clause (cf. "the type of programmer that . . .").

With the comma ("I work as a programmer, mostly building blah blah blah"), my natural reading may be paraphrased like this: "I work as a programmer, one who mostly builds blah blah blah."

Although those formulations do mention the type of programmer that the speaker is, the type is incidental (when the comma is included) rather than the focus of the statement (when the comma is not included).

Last edited by David, Moderator

Hello, Language learner, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

I agree with Gustavo's answer and with his sense that it is better to keep the comma, lest the participial clause be interpreted as a nonfinite/reduced restrictive relative clause (cf. "the type of programmer that . . .").

With the comma ("I work as a programmer, mostly building blah blah blah"), my natural reading may be paraphrased like this: "I work as a programmer, one who mostly builds blah blah blah."

Although those formulations do mention the type of programmer that the speaker is, the type is incidental (when the comma is included) rather than the focus of the statement (when the comma is not included).

Can I replace the original sentence with two separate sentences, like this:

1)  I work as a programmer. I'm a programmer who mostly builds ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the database.

OR, maybe

2)  I work as a programmer. In my work as a programmer, I mostly build ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the database.

Can I replace the original sentence with two separate sentences, like this:

1)  I work as a programmer. I'm a programmer who mostly builds ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the database.

OR, maybe

2)  I work as a programmer. In my work as a programmer, I mostly build ASP.NET applications with SQL Server as the database.

Yes, you can use either of those replacements.

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