1. victo
    Offline

    victo Active Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    2

    Is this a comma splice?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by victo, Jun 3, 2015.

    Is this a comma splice?

    I think it could work, do you?

    Or should it be:

    I think it could work; do you?

    I think it could work—do you?

    Thanks.
     
  2. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    867
    Likes Received:
    957
    Location:
    SC, USA
    Grammar is not my strongest suit (I'm in the wrong line of work plainly) but I can tell you that the first one is definitely a splice. I think the other options are acceptable, and of course you could always just start a new sentence, too.

    My thought is this: This looks like dialogue, yeah? Personally, in dialogue, I'm more lenient with grammatical stuff because really, a lot of people don't speak in a strictly proper way. This may not be your style, but if you're trying to convey urgency, maybe challenge, I'd use that comma. More of a pause, more calm or purposeful - use a dash or period.

    That's just me though. If you want to be proper, I'd go with the dash myself. Definitely not the comma.
     
  3. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    The example with a comma is grammatically incorrect. Out of the three options, I would go with the one with a semicolon if I was going for grammatical correctness (though perhaps not in dialogue), and I would choose the dash if I wanted style points. However, the best thing to do would be to use a period.
     
  4. Phil Partington
    Offline

    Phil Partington Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Washington state
    Yes, it's technically a comma splice. It's probably one that could be overlooked by pubbers/agents, but my anal self would write it with an emdash ("I think it could work--do you?")
     
  5. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Never heard of a comma splice, learn new stuff all the time here. ;)

    https://owl.english.purdue.edu/engagement/2/1/34/
     
    Phil Partington likes this.
  6. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20
    It is a comma splice. I would also say to go with the em dash—but I happen to be a zealous em dash user. (Case in point.)
     
    Phil Partington likes this.
  7. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    It's a comma splice, but I use them in such situations and naysayers be damned :)

    I'd probably say "I think it could work, don't you?"
     
  8. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    I, personally, would use: I think it could work. Do you? It depends also on the context and the tempo of your characters, but the comma still works.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Me too, all this fuss when a period solves the problem.
     
  10. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    A period works as well. But when it comes to fiction, I put in commas where I want them and take them out when I don't want them. For non-fiction I pay more attention to comma rules, but with fiction I am more interested in the narrative flow I want.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  11. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    Of course. Writing is an art, and there are no rules when creating art. Technically, all the examples work.
     
  12. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    Yes. And of all the grammar rules that authors play loose with in published fiction, doing whatever they want with commas seems to me to be most common.
     
  13. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    I place commas in my writing mostly by instinct. I don't actually know if it's correct or not half the time. It's hard to remember all the rules of commas, and a lot of people still debate over what's correct anyway, such as the Oxford comma.
     
  14. victo
    Offline

    victo Active Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    2
    One more, if you don't mind.

    Would these be a comma splices as well?

    Trust me, he hates his wife.
    He hates his wife, trust me.

    If so, I think they can be remedied in like manner. Do you agree? :confused: I think
    the em dash is probably the best bet. The semicolon and period look weird, but are they correct?

    Trust me; he hates his wife.
    Trust me—he hates his wife.
    Trust me. He hates his wife.

    He hates his wife; trust me.
    He hates his wife—trust me.
    He hates his wife. Trust me.

    And thanks to everyone here for taking the time to respond. You all are a great bunch of folks. Have a blessed day.
     
  15. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    Comma works fine in both in my opinion.

    I wouldn't use the dash or the semicolon for stuff like this. You could use the period, but it feels less connected and the tempo feels off.
     
  16. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    867
    Likes Received:
    957
    Location:
    SC, USA
    Pretty sure in this case it's not a splice, so it doesn't need to be 'fixed' or anything, but the dash and period are equally correct ways of doing it. The semicolon doesn't work because your two phrases aren't really connected. If it was "he hates his wife; [proof]" (like say "he hates his wife; they were fighting like cats and dogs last night") or maybe "he hates his wife; trust me, I've seen them together" that'd work, but not just 'trust me'. Aaaah I'm very tired right now, sorry I can't give a better explanation. I'm sure someone else will.

    But yeah, not a splice in this case. Maybe do some reading about exactly what constitutes a comma splice rather than trying to figure it out on a case by case basis? And again keep in mind that in dialogue and even just in forming your own style you can play around with stuff like this - it doesn't always have to be textbook so long as you're legible.
     
  17. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,669
    Likes Received:
    5,162
    I don't like the semi-colon solution for this example - I think a colon would work, though.

    Trust me: he hates his wife.​

    But as someone who's usually pretty attuned to comma splices, I don't think this one would jump out at me, especially not in dialogue.
     
    izzybot and jannert like this.
  18. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,827
    Likes Received:
    7,353
    Location:
    Scotland
    I don't necessarily subscribe to the theory, but I've read in some how-to books that you should 'never' use colons or semi-colons in dialogue ...that people don't speak in semi-colons or colons! I do admit, it looks weird. In dialogue, I would write the above as: "Trust me. He hates his wife." Or, if it's a less emphatic statement: "Trust me, he hates his wife."
     
  19. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,669
    Likes Received:
    5,162
    I've read that too, and I think it's nonsense. (pet peeve alert!).

    I don't think people speak in ANY punctuation. Other than "period" or "full stop" as a way to emphasize finality, we don't speak punctuation. We just speak.

    The punctuation we use in writing is designed to indicate the way people are speaking, and I think there's a way of speaking that is definitely best represented by a colon (a sort of building up to a big reveal), and a semi-colon (a pause of approximately the same length as for a period, but with a greater sense of connection).

    The human voice is capable of a hell of a lot of intonations and subtle connections. It's enough of a challenge to try to represent that depth with a bunch of black squiggles on a white screen; we certainly don't need to be making up rules that give us even fewer tools to select from!
     
    jannert, Mckk and Steerpike like this.
  20. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    You can use colons and semicolons in dialogue. It's perfectly acceptable; however, the colon and semicolon are very particular tools, and you should only use one when you are quite sure it's necessary and works, and not just in dialogue. Same goes with the dash.
     
  21. Phil Partington
    Offline

    Phil Partington Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Washington state
    Ha. When I looked back over messages and read yours, I thought I'd written it. I too tend to overuse them, but that's just cuz they're so gosh darn cool!
     
  22. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,535
    I actually never figured out the difference between a dash and an em dash, or when to use either one, for that matter :bigoops: I use dashes in my writing nonetheless and have had no complaints, but I sometimes feel like I should find this out...
     
  23. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,535
    Lol I'm with BayView on this - nobody "speaks" any punctuation - whoever wrote that how-to book gave a very silly reason there. I think anyone who says "such and such a tool should never be used here" is just being pedantic and forcing their own writing preferences on other people. Writing is a strange thing - people feel so passionate about it like there're absolutes.

    I say, so long as the punctuation is used correctly, it's fine. Either that or, so long as the punctuation is used in such a way that conveys the meaning of the sentence clearly and without drawing undue attention to itself (unless it's that of admiration lol) is also fine! :supertongue:

    Hey I just saw a new smiley! This one! >> :bigeek:
     
  24. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,827
    Likes Received:
    7,353
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yes, in essence I totally agree with you, and I would never say never. However, for my own writing, I don't think I've ever used either a colon or semicolon in dialogue. I guess I just never envisioned my speakers doing that kind of a pause.

    In defense of that 'rule' however, I'd say colons and semicolons are more visual signals of thematic changes, rather than signals you'd send with your voice. A semicolon indicates that there is more to the thought expressed, that it comes in two or more parts. Or, that it's a list, which, in speech, can usually be telegraphed with comma-like pauses. And a colon really doesn't indicate a speech pattern at all, does it? Again, it's just a warning that it's a list coming, or something that leads thematically to something else.

    Think about it. In dialogue, a period (full stop) indicates the end of a sentence. It's something we use in speech all the time, and usually means a drop in voice tone. A question mark indicates a question, and will affect tone of voice, and usually indicates a rise in voice tone. An exclamation mark also affects tone or volume of voice and certainly makes the statement sound emphatic. A comma indicates a pause in speech, and what the pause actually means is made clear in context. An em-dash in dialogue usually indicates a breaking off of speech or a quick change of thought. An ellipsis indicates a trailing off of speech while another thought occurs, or the speaker runs out of things to say, but doesn't want to emphasise the fact with a full stop. All of these marks of punctuation indicate something that directly affects the speaker's voice.

    I'm not sure that a semicolon or a colon would affect the voice very much. Or at least, would not be discernibly different from a comma or full stop.

    I think that's the reasoning, anyway. Take it or leave it. In creative writing, you have the whole toolbox at your disposal. I'm a big fan of doing anything that works to make the meaning clear. (Including using italics :twisted:...) :):):):eek:
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
  25. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    'My son was all snug even in the bitter cold; he wore his gloves.'

    :agreed:

    You could also put: 'My son was all snug even in the bitter cold,' said Jenny. 'He wore his gloves.' But the debate is on semicolons and colons in dialogue.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015

Share This Page