It only takes a minute to sign up. Commonly, the phrase is separated from the independent clause of the sentence by a comma. Is this a violation, seeing as the phrase is not independent per se? Even when writing, I myself would not worry about throwing in the comma as I have never met any reader who finds something to pick at in a sentence like the one above. In a slightly more formal context, would the phrase be connected with or without a comma? She was doing a sterling job of trying to wake him up but to no avail. After a few frantic phone calls to no avail, the decision to ad-lib was made.
You will see that, of the three example sentences terminating in " but to no avail ", two precede it with a comma, and one doesn't. Personally, I would normally include a comma in that position, because, when speaking the sentence, I would normally pause slightly at that point. As John Lawler says in his comment, if you want the reader to 'hear' the pause, then include a comma.
As for your first sentence, I would never say "were to no avail". Maybe it makes sense on a technical level, but it feels weird. I would instead opt for concision:. It's simpler and avoids any awkwardness. If you must use "avail", this sounds better to me:. Sign up to join this community. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top.
Asked 4 years, 6 months ago. Active 3 years, 1 month ago. Viewed 27k times. The phrase "to no avail" describes something that is futile or ineffective. His efforts to stop the thief were to no avail. She tried to brush the tangles out of her hair, but to no avail.
She tried to brush the tangles out of her hair but to no avail. Improve this question. Symantra Symantra 2 2 gold badges 6 6 silver badges 15 15 bronze badges. This is the type of comma that one should put in only if one hears it. Commas denote an intonation contour; if you want the reader to hear it, put in the comma; if you don't want that, don't use it. I think a healthy pause after hair is warranted and thus the comma. Yeah, this is a situation where even the "authorities" may waffle.
I would tend to use the comma, but I wouldn't argue that point strongly. Active Oldest Votes. Improve this answer. TrevorD TrevorD I'm not sure I've heard "but to no avail"; that sounds awkward to me. I would use: She tried to brush the tangles out of her hair, to no avail. I would instead opt for concision: His efforts to stop the thief were futile. If you must use "avail", this sounds better to me: His efforts to stop the thief were without avail. Pierce Darragh Pierce Darragh 1 1 silver badge 8 8 bronze badges.
See my answer. TrevorD ah, I was unaware of its use in British English. I've never heard it here in the US. Thanks for the info!
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