1. pjay_b
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    pjay_b New Member

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    Punctuation debate

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by pjay_b, Jul 1, 2009.

    Hello,

    We have recently started to get marked on the use of English in our e-mails where I work, I have failed on this for the following e-mail:

    "Hello,

    Thank you for your e-mail, I cannot see any issues with this circuit, the profile is a little low but should rise over the next couple of days.

    Regards"

    My supervisor states this is incorrect as it should be a full stop, not a comma, after the word e-mail, my argument is that this is more a point of preference than anything.

    I understand many people may choose to use a full stop in these circumstances but do you feel it is incorrect to use a comma?

    Any replies will help resolve our longstanding debate.

    PJay
     
  2. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    It seems to me that either can be correct. With a full stop / period the flow of the sentence is severed and more matter-of-fact. With the comma, I feel it is a supplying of information in more of a list-like, less formal fashion. It depends how you wish to communicate. The option with the stop maybe more likely to be understood by non-native English speakers as it is the more straight forward construction, but I feel with the comma your use is more relaxed, friendlier even. Either way, it's pretty pedantic to be pulled up on it! But, as you say, it's most likely subjective, so others may, and probably will, disagree. Happy pedantry!

    Re: Points below, happily conceeded to those that know better.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your supervisor is correct. It is a run-on sentence containing two comma splices and no conjunctions other than but (which should be preceded by a comma in this example).
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, your sup is correct. There are three independent clauses in this one sentences, hence two comma splices.
     
  5. Akraa
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    Akraa Member

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    You're short on a period for the first clause as it is unrelated to the next, and a semicolon to pair the next two independent clauses that lack a conjunction. Finally, the comma in front of the conjunction is a matter of choice; technically it should be there, however it's absence does not negatively affect the sentence.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Semicolons should be avoided, for the most part, in fiction. Either a full stop, or a comma and a conjunction, should be used instead in nearly every instance.

    Commas before conjunctions are not always a matter of choice. Sometimes they are required, sometimes they are not allowed, and in some cases they are optional (but may subtly alter the meaning).
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    It's not really correct at all--even as a point of preference (aside from the most experimental and unpublishable writing)--to separate unrelated, complete thoughts (containing both subject and predicate) with a comma. They should be separated with semicolons or periods, instead (otherwise they create what's known as a comma splice (check it out in Wikipedia), which usually suggests a writer who doesn't know better. In addition, they can seriously confuse matters for a reader.

    A run-on sentence does the same thing, although without punctuation or conjunctions.
     
  8. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I have to agree. It is never optional to put commas between complete sentences. You can however omit a comma between two very short and related sentences connected by a conjunction.
     
  9. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Yep. There is no point in having a comma after email. It makes it read weird. Sorry!

    But it's not "supplying information" when he says thank you for the email. The statement of thanks is a separate thing from the other things being stated in the sentence. It is a statement unto itself. Even if it had been worded different like.... "We have received your email, and while cannot see any issues with this circuit, the profile is a little low. But don't worry, it should rise over the next couple of days."

    Hmm.. yep, it still needs to be two sentences.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't think of a single case where a the choice between a comma and a period would be a preference, even in fiction where the rules are sometimes a little more relaxed. It's always one or the other. Incidentally, you've done it in this quote as well.
     
  11. nativesodlier
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    nativesodlier Member

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    sorry bro, supervisor is right.
     
  12. Akraa
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    Akraa Member

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    Re: Cognito
    Subject: The semicolon.

    The semicolon has a very specific and well regulated purpose in all written work; it links two independant clauses that would normally recieve a period, save for the fact that their subject matter is inexorably linked. It is the unit of punctionation you must use when you wish you could use a comma because the two topics are inseperable, but must reach a full stop in the statement. Conjunctions exist to link two independant clauses that are less intrinsically related, especially if the use of a conjunction would be awkward. An example of the correct use of the semicolon is displayed above.

    In the above example 'because' could be used to conjoin the pair of independant clauses, though a semicolon is equally valid, as neither needs support, but both are closely linked; the second independant clause is a clarification of the first that without it's independance would normally be adjoined with a comma.

    I will agree that in fiction the use of a conjunction is best where a semi-colon is not strictly necessary. The email above is not fiction, but a business correspondance and the formality of a semicolon is preferable.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are very few situations in even nonfiction writing in which a semicolon is needed. Using a semicolon to separate items in a list which themselves contain commas is the principal case.

    The case you cite, complete clauses which are inexorably linked, is still better written with a full stop instead of a semicolon over 99% of the time. Adjacent placement of those sentences within the same paragraph suffices to connect them.

    Semicolons are woefully overused, and misused, in both fiction and nonfiction. I even had a professor in school who would deduct points for use of a semicolon where a period was appropriate. He gave everyone fair warning at the start of the term.

    A semicolon is most often a wishy-washy compromise between using a full stop to cleanly separate sentences and using a conjunction to cleanly join them. Be decisive.
     

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