1. lucero
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    lucero New Member

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    How to properly write conversation into a sentence

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lucero, Jan 21, 2010.

    Real quick, I wanted to say hello. I am new to the forums. I don't know how much I can help because I am very new to learning proper grammar and writing. I hope in the future I will be more help.

    I can't figure out how to properly write a conversation/quote into a sentence. I would love your opinion on the following sentence.

    Sentence: Sure, you can over simplify things and say "Take a break when you are stressed out before things become too intense." This can work in theory but people often need more direct instruction to achieve this.

    Is that written correctly?
     
  2. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I often see a comma following the word "say" in constructions like this where the quote is simply the object of the transitive verb (as it is here); but I don't think it actually needs one. The meaning is clear without the comma, and we're not dealing with a dialogue tag.

    I'd probably put a comma before "but," because it conjoins two complete (and contrasting) thoughts; but lots of writers prefer to omit this punctuation when no confusion results or the sentence doesn't seem overly complex.

    Both these choices are probably stylistic and reflect preferences (to some extent), since the meaning is perfectly clear. I do think "oversimplify" will need to be one word, though.:)
     
  3. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The comma used to be mandatory, but the modern trend is towards less punctuation and it tends to be dropped nowadays. Neither is "right" or "wrong" -- language changes.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No, it should be:
    I added a couple other commas that have nothing to do with the formatting of dialogue, but the key point is the comma after the word say is required when leading from the dialogue tag into the dialogue fragment.

    See my blog post: He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue.
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think quotes work well here. You can just make it indirect speech, unless it has to be a direct quote, e.g.
    Sure, Dr. Smith oversimplifies things by saying, "take a break when you are stressed out before things become too intense," but some people need more direction.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog is correct...
     
  7. lucero
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    lucero New Member

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    Thanks for the detailed response to what I posted. I especially appreciated the time to critique the other words I wrote.

    I used to have an aggressive comma use and now I overcompensate. Great post you made Cog.

    Thank you again everyone.
     
  8. witch wyzwurd
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    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

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    lucero, if you're seeking proper English, then the following parts of your example that I've colored red are not what you should be okay with.

    Sure, you can over simplify things and say "Take a break when you are stressed out before things become too intense." This can work in theory but people often need more direct instruction to achieve this.

    Good luck.


     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As I've already mentioned, this is mainly a matter of style. Apart from "over simplify" nothing you have coloured red is really wrong, just very informal. And if you're trying to avoid informality, the "Sure" would have to go too.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    oops!... cog [and i] missed something:

    'oversimplify' is a single word, not two...
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I saw it, but decided to focus only on the punctuation issues.
     
  12. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    At last, I have just learned the rule about sentence splicing.
    Never splice two independent sentences.
    And now, on a couple of messages in this thread, some have suggested the opposite.

    Sure, you can over simplify things and say "Take a break when you are stressed out before things become too intense." This can work in theory but people often need more direct instruction to achieve this.

    This sentence can be split into two complete sentences.
    This can work in theory but people often need more direct instruction to achieve this.

    Like this -
    This can work in theory. People often need more direct instruction to achieve this.

    Therefore, this sentence must have a conjunction and a comma, surely.
    This can work in theory, but people often need more direct instruction to achieve this.

    Or have I still not grasped it?
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you've grasped it. It certainly needs the conjunction (which I seem to remember it already had). My point about the comma is that language changes over time, and at the moment it seems to be changing in the direction of dropping the comma. Writers (and editors) who are strict to the rules they were brought up on will want the comma. Writers (and editors) who want the writing to look dynamic and contemporary will not want the comma.

    I think it helps to get away from the idea of "right" and "wrong", and instead think of "effective" and "not effective". In some contexts the 19th century punctuation rules (which were based on timing, not grammar) might be effective. In others the mid-20th century rules might be effective, and they're the ones usually thought of as "correct". In others the more modern, much more sparse punctuation might be effective. In others you might want to abandon convention altogether (Finnegan's Wake, anybody?)
     

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