1. ZionsRodeVos
    Offline

    ZionsRodeVos New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Woodbridge, Virginia

    Comma Splice

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ZionsRodeVos, Dec 31, 2008.

    I read a review someone did recently here which spoke about comma splices. So I went and read up a bit about comma splices. I think I understand them but want to make sure.

    I believe the below sentence is a comma splice since the words before the comma can stand alone as their own sentence and those after the comma can too.

    I like him, I don't like her.

    Now here is a sentence I just found in the story I am writing:

    Maikel's anger faded, replaced by concern.

    I don't think it is a comma splice since the words that come after the comma are not a complete sentence. However, I now have doubts that it is a correct sentence. Can someone tell me if the second sentence is also considered a comma splice? Is the second sentence OK or should I avoid writing sentences like it?
     
  2. NaCl
    Offline

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,855
    Likes Received:
    58
    I belive the second sentence is fine. The phrase identified by the comma is a "free modifier" and quite correctly separated by a comma. The test is whether the ending phrase can be placed elsewhere in the sentence without causing confusion. For example, your sentence could be written -

    "Replaced by concern, Maikel's anger faded."

    You could even say, "Maikel's anger, replaced by concern, faded." (correct, although this doesn't flow as well)

    Here is the citation for this reference...see item number 8 on the following link from Purdue's Online Writing Lab:

    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_comma.html



    .
     
  3. ZionsRodeVos
    Offline

    ZionsRodeVos New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Woodbridge, Virginia
    Thank you very much!

    I recently read in a thread here about authors who intentionally break grammar rules and those who do so in ignorance and agree with the fact that it will be helpful for me to know more about grammar to improve my writing and not break so many rules in ignorance.

    I have saved the link you provided to add to my growing collection of sites where I can learn grammar basics.

    Now I'm going to have to look up free modifiers. There are so few terms I know besides noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, and a few others and then even less that I can identify. Although after reading a thread and some grammar rules about participles (mostly -ing words it seems) and comma splices I am getting better at identifying them.

    And now I am left looking at the three versions of the same sentence trying to figure out why the one you mentioned doesn't flow as well as the other two.

    1. Maikel's anger, replaced by concern, faded.

    2. Replaced by concern, Maikel's anger faded.
    3. Maikel's anger faded, replaced by concern.

    Correct me if I am wrong but the flow of the sentence marked 1 above is not as good because you don't immediately know what exactly happened to Maikel's anger until you get to the last word of the sentence.
     
  4. Daedalus
    Offline

    Daedalus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    South Armagh, Ireland.
    Sentence #1 is set off by a parenthetical clause -- that little piece of information between the two commas. I don't think flow is an issue in any of those. For the record, there are four types of commas:

    Listing commas: Used for lists. For example: "I went to the store and bought milk, ham, and eggs". Many people argue that that last comma before "and" shouldn't be there, but a quick look to Strunk's The Elements of Style says that it should.

    Parenthetic (or "Bracketing") commas: Used almost like an en-dash, for adding information to a sentence. For example: "Jack, who looked like a wrestler, advanced on his opponent".

    Gapping commas: Used when words are omitted from a sentence. For example: "Jupiter is the largest planet and Pluto, the smallest". The word "is" is omitted from the sentence and a comma is used instead.

    And, finally, the joining comma: Used to join two independent clauses. For example: "The report was due last week, but it hasn't appeared yet".
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    my advice would be to not obsess about technical labels and jargon and only concentrate on whether the wording works well and will make sense to the readers, or not...
     
  6. NaCl
    Offline

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,855
    Likes Received:
    58

    IMHO - the "correct" sentence structure depends on the reader.

    I am a linear reader. I like my information to come in logical sequences...such as in sentence #3. An event happens ("anger faded") followed by an explanation ("replaced by concern"). This structure fits neatly into my logic and allows me to read without pause to figure out a thought being expressed by the author.

    On the other hand, abstract or artistic readers might be more inclined to read several sentences before drawing global conclusions about the content. These people might even prefer a more "artsy" writing style and enjoy sentence #1 structure because of it's broken tempo.

    Who likes Tom Clancy? Who likes JK Rowling or King or Shakespeare? The answer is simple...fans. Fans are groups of people with common style and genre interests. For that reason, I suspect it is more important to stick with one style of writing than to worry about the correctness of every specific sentence structure. By offering "fans" consistency, you will appeal to a select group of potential readers/buyers. On the other hand, if your writing style vacillates, then your stories will not be comfortable for any particular group. So, the most important message is to know your intended audience and write for them.
     

Share This Page