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So I recently read about 場合 for the use of "situation, or circumstance". What is the difference between ~場合、, 場合は, and 場合には? My friend couldn't explain it. He just said you need to feel for which is correct. If I had to guess, I'd say the は is optional and thus can be replaced by the comma, and the には is for added emphasis. Is that at all close?

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I'd say the は is optional and thus can be replaced by the comma, and the には is for added emphasis.

I agree with your guess. There is no tricky difference here.

One pattern I noticed was that in written language, 〜場合、 is much less likely to be used when in the second half of a sentence:

X の場合、Y しよう。

今日は雨だし、 X の場合は Y しよう。

But this is more about legibility and visual flow. Keep this in mind when omitting the , so you don't create a choppy sentence or an ugly “visual run-on”:

今日は雨だし、X の場合どうする? (Good)

今日は雨だし、X の場合、学校行かない (Flow is choppy)

今日は雨だし、X の場合学校行かない (Harder to read)

今日は雨だし、X の場合は学校行かない (Good)

(In spoken language, as you may know, there won't need to be a discernable pause at the comma. 「Xのばあいがっこういかない」 with no audible comma will be understood just fine.)

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