1. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Comma question.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Jhunter, Sep 29, 2011.

    I cannot figure out how best to ask this so I am going to make up a fake example real quick.

    "Will you go to the park?" asked bob, while motioning them over.

    My question is, do you always have to put a comma after a "asked bob" or a "said bob" if you are not going to put a period? Or can you leave off the period and the comma?

    I hope this made sense, haha.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not a grammar guru. My view on commas tends to be that I use them or discard them based on the flow I want to achieve. In this case, I'd leave it out.
     
  3. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Phew, I am not crazy then! Haha
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Or we are both crazy.
     
  5. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Haha, word.

    ---------- Post added at 06:22 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:05 PM ----------

    Damn, I just flipped through a book and it seems a comma is used every time. Unless I am getting extremely unlucky and just finding ones with a comma.

    Now I am back to being confused.
     
  6. Timothy Giant
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    Timothy Giant Member

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    I would actually use a comma there. I think it's a subclause, so it should be separated by a comma (regardless of whether there's a conjunctive (while) or not). Now I'm not grammar guru either (I'm not even a native speaker), but that's how I would handle it.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you must use a comma before going on to a modifying clause... that said, tacking such actions onto dialog tags is almost always not a good idea and is often a very bad one...

    and 'bob' could use a capital 'b'... ;)
     
  8. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    "Will you go to the park? asked Bob. He then motioned them over.

    Is that better?
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'd remove 'then.'

    Getting gack to commas, there are times when a comma may be called forin a technical sense, but where you may nevertheless opt to do without it for sentence flow.
     
  10. Smythe
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    Smythe Member

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    I first version was correct. As Timothy states, it is a sub clause - unaltered, the clause itself makes no sense. The comma is appropriate, as is the full stop, but it is more conventional to write it as you wrote it first. Although personally, I would write "... said Bob, motioning them over". No 'while' or 'whilst'.
     
  11. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Would it be correct for a comma to go here? (Not that I think this is a good sentence.)

    "Will you go to the park?" asked Bob, and motioned them over.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    With the word "and," I don't think you need it in that case.
     
  13. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    That's good. How about the use of "when" or "whenever"?

    "Will you go to the park?" asked Bob, when he reached them.

    Bob felt sick, whenever Ginger bragged about her test scores.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't use one in either instance but you may want a second opinion.
     
  15. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    They look wrong to me, too, but so did the one in the OP. Then again, I don't use "while" in cases like that, so I'm safe as far as that word is concerned.
     
  16. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    The OP didn't need "while," which may be why it looked wrong. "Motioning them over" is a participial phrase modifying Bob ("What?" Bob asked, motioning them over.). "While" is unneeded because both versions mean the same thing: Bob is motioning them over while talking. You don't always need a comma with participial phrases depending what they are modifying (e.g., "What?" Bob asked the tree swaying in the wind). Still, it's not always good practice to tag a lot onto a dialogue sentence. For example, "'What?' Bob asked and motioned them over" doesn't require a comma. But does it really require the "asked" then? "'What?' Bob motioned them over" obviously doesn't look good in this example, but if you're going to mix your dialogue tags with actions, it may be best to drop the tag and just use the action.

    As far as when a comma is used after a dialogue tag, normal grammar rules apply. Bob (subject) asked (verb). There's not a rule saying because it is a dialogue tag it must have a comma without exception. Think of it as a normal sentence of which the quoted material is usually the object (Bob asked, "What?" and motioned them over). The quoted material is usually surrounded with commas to set it apart, but you wouldn't use commas if you had a sentence like, "Bob jumped the stump and motioned them over." Why would you use one because you had a dialogue tag?
     
  17. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Thank you everyone, you have been extremely helpful, like always. :)
     

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