1. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Then?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Lucy E., Jun 9, 2008.

    I'm not 100% sure about this, so I thought I'd ask for you guys' opinions.
    This is the sentence I'm writing:

    The others filed into the hall behind Leo, then Liliana closed the door softly.

    My question: should it be 'and then'?
    My grammar checker marks just 'then' as incorrect, but I've seen just 'then' in books, so I was wondering if there is a specified rule or if it's all down to personal preference.
     
  2. Flightlessfoofaraw
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    Flightlessfoofaraw Member

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    I probably shouldn't be commenting on this as i have absolutely no formal training in grammar whatsoever!

    However, I'm going to ignore my own advice and comment anyway ;)

    My questions would be: is there any need for the comma? What does the grammar checked say if you remove it?
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    imo, it's not very good stylistically, as is, though either 'and then' or just 'then' would be grammatically ok... it would read better as two separate sentences... and be better yet, as one sentence, with 'and' instead of 'then'...

    the comma is needed with 'then' but would not be with 'and then'...

    The others filed into the hall behind Leo, then Liliana closed the door softly.
    The others filed into the hall behind Leo. Then, Liliana closed the door softly.
    The others filed into the hall behind Leo and then Liliana closed the door softly.
     
  4. Flightlessfoofaraw
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    Flightlessfoofaraw Member

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    The same thing occured to me! That would be my preferred choice, I think :)
     
  5. lessa
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    lessa Contributing Member

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    I would use the final sentence but take out the "then"
    it just doesn't seem to be necessary.
     
  6. all_my_hues
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    all_my_hues New Member

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    Hmm. "And then" seems to make the sentence too clunky, IMHO. The following two alternatives appeal to me:

    The others filed into the hall behind Leo, and Liliano closed the door softly.

    The others filed into the hall behind Leo. Liliano closed the door softly.

    I agree with Flightless and Mammamaia -- I feel as though "then" should be replaced with "and"....it just seems to flow better! But, of course, it's your decision :)
     
  7. Gloom Kitty
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    Gloom Kitty Banned

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    I'd go for and then if not. I'd delete then and use a comma
     
  8. jim90
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    jim90 Member

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    I would write it how you did and ignore MS Word spell checker, seriously if you listen to everything it tells you then your story will have no emotion just perfect grammar.
    Sometimes you need to break grammar rules to create effect.
     
  9. AuthoressM
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    AuthoressM Member

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    The others filed into the hall behind Leo, then Liliana closed the door softly.

    I disagree with taking out the 'then' and replacing it with an 'and'. That changes the meaning of the sentence, doesn't it?

    If the sentence is "The others filed into the hall behind Leo, and Liliana closed the door softly" you're saying that these two things happened simultaneously. However, you have 'then' there instead - which means you're saying they filed into the hall and >then< Liliana closed the door. See the difference?

    I do believe it should be "and then" because, for one thing, what you have there could be two sentences. Plus, the 'and' before 'then' would help make the events flow better.

    Hopefully that helped .:-D.
     
  10. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    The effect of the word "then" is to put two events into chronological order. In a narrative, there is already an implicature that two sentences happened successively instead of concurrently.

    This implies that these two events took place one after another.

    But what if we put them into the same sentence?

    Now the two events can be happening concurrently as well as successively! (Of course, if they're coming in the same door that she's closing, the concurrent reading wouldn't make sense, but you get the idea.)

    I would say that you should only use "then" when you want to make it absolutely apparent that the second action followed upon the completion of the first.
     
  11. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    They enter through the door, which Liliana then closes.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone. Much appreciated.
     

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