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  1. Louanne Learning

    Louanne Learning Senior Member

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    Punctuation Comma and Conjunction

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Louanne Learning, Oct 18, 2022.

    I've come to notice that comma splices are common with beginner writers.

    A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are separated by a comma without a conjunction.

    I love my dog, I think he is the cutest dog ever. (This is grammatically incorrect.)

    When two independent clauses are separated by a comma, a conjunction must follow the comma.

    There are seven conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

    Correct: I love my dog, and I think he is the cutest dog ever.
     
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  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Another solution would be to replace the comma with an em-dash:

    I love my mutant iguana—he's the bee's knees!
    An em-dash is used when the second part of the sentence relates directly to the first part, and comments on it. Which is exactly what's happening here, as well as in the previous post.

    It can also be used to separate a clause inside a sentence, thusly:

    That mutant iguana of mine—the adorable little rascal—chewed a leg off the kitchen table yesterday.
    Note if you remove the clause you're left with a complete and grammatically correct sentence. And the clause is commenting on the first part. Not sure if that's a necessity when used this way.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2022
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  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    You could also just use a period or whatever end-sentence punctiation mark is appropriate:

    I love my new fire-starter kit! I torched my friend's shed the other day with it.
     
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  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Writers often use commas as they see fit for stylistic reasons, the way they want the sentence to flow, or what have you. It’s fine, so long when there is intention behind it and the author isn’t just falling into bad grammar. The same applies to other grammatical rules as well.
     
  5. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    ^ This is definitely true. I do it all the time, because I write very informally in something like a speaking dialect. And even if the narration in a story is done in meticulously perfect grammar, it's also fine to use commas incorrectly in dialogue, cause that's just, like, the way people talk. Know what I mean? Fragments too. Those are all good.
     
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  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Yes, especially in dialogue, I agree. And, for the same reason, in a first person narrative.
     
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  7. Louanne Learning

    Louanne Learning Senior Member

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    I make good use of em dashes! Just a little note—there should be no spaces between the em dash and what it separates.

    I more often see en dashes (incorrectly) used, and that may be because some may not know how to type an em dash on the keyboard.

    Keyboard shortcuts for an em dash:
    Mac: shift + option + hyphen
    PC: alt + 0151
     
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  8. Louanne Learning

    Louanne Learning Senior Member

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    Another thing - the comma (or period) always goes inside the end quote.

    "In mathematics, the radical is the root," she said.

    In mathematics, the radical is "the root."

    The radical, also known as "the root," can be calculated.
     
  9. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I see what you did there.
     
  10. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    In Windows (at least, most Windows word processing programs), you can do an em dash by:
    CTRL+ALT+[number pad -]
    ALT+0151
    [word]+[minus][minus]+[word]

    To do an en dash:
    CTRL+[number pad -]
    [word][space][number pad -][space]word
    ALT+0150

    I think there are a couple of other shortcuts, too.
     
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  11. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    I, on the other hand, do not have a dog.
     
  12. Also

    Also Student of Humanity Supporter

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    Comma splices are also common with Margaret Atwood and similar stylists of her caliber.

    FANBOYS are a good start, but they're hardly the only coordinating conjunctions. The most common error I see with them is placing a comma after one, particularly in poorly edited business writing. It became so common that the Hodges Harbrace Handbook had to add an explicit rule before the millennium to avoid using a comma after a coordinating conjunction beginning a sentence. When one looks at editorial precedent through the 1900s, it was even standard practice to omit the first of two parenthetical commas if it immediately followed a FANBOYS. "And[,] if you wish to spend the night, the spare bedroom is available." However, some older writers like the late David Cornwell / John LeCarré and his editor(s) are punctilious in including that comma after and, but, even that, etc. "He said that, [with comma] if she wished to spend the night, the spare bedroom was available," where the mainstream practice would be to omit that comma—some authorities even advising never to place a comma after a conjunctive "that'—and write "He said that [omit comma] if she wished to spend the night, the spare bedroom was available."

    That-comma feels particularly constipated, and I've always found it, along to a lesser degree with its relatives and-comma and but-comma, the most annoying thing—indeed, almost the only annoying thing—in LeCarré's prose.

    It's really a question of how one conceptualizes the formation of the sentence. If you look at it as "He said that the spare bedroom was available," and then add "if she wished to spend the night" in the middle of it, there's a certain reasonable logic to putting a comma at both ends—even though that was not mainstream editorial practice through the 1900s. (It was more common earlier in the century than later.) But that's not how I see such sentences coming into existence. Instead you have the complete statement "If you'd like to spend the night, the spare bedroom is available," which you then conjoin to an earlier sentence and report indirectly using that: "Toward the end of the evening, he said that if she'd like to spend the night, the spare bedroom was available." And as most authorities advise, you do not place a comma after that when you use it conjunctively.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2022
  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    However the same is not true for parentheses. I've been treating them the same as quotes, putting any end punctuation inside. But it started to feel wrong. And now that I've dug out my Gregg Reference Manual once again I checked, and the rules are the opposite—punctuation goes outside. Except possibly in some circumstanes, I need to check back and try to learn this. I use them a lot, at least in here. I doubt I would use them in a story (at least I don't think I would).
     
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  14. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yep. Always outside, though a parenthetical thought can carry its own punctuation inside (I love boobies!).
     
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  15. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    What about 'because'?
     
  16. Louanne Learning

    Louanne Learning Senior Member

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    "Because" is a subordinating conjunction - which connects a subordinate clause to an independent clause - and good style dictates there be no comma between these clauses

    I'm going to the store because I need milk.
     
  17. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Although if the sentence were longer, I might put one in:

    He swore never to trust Ms. Atwater any farther then he could throw her, because the memory of that ill-fated stock tip was still fresh in his mind.

    If the comma is omitted, the sentence loses some of its pacing and seems rushed.
     
  18. Louanne Learning

    Louanne Learning Senior Member

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    I would write that sentence like this:

    The memory of Ms. Atwater's ill-fated stock tip fresh in his mind, he swore never to trust her further than he could throw her.
     
  19. Robert_001

    Robert_001 New Member

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    Robert_001 writes: Couldn't you use a semicolon? Example: I love my dog; I think he is the cutest dog ever.
     
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  20. Louanne Learning

    Louanne Learning Senior Member

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    I'm not crazy about semi-colons, and think they should be used sparingly. I prefer using the comma and conjunction.

    A semi-colon works better with juxtapositions: I love dogs; my mother hates them.

    But normally, I would write that as two sentences. I love dogs. My mother hates them.
     
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  21. MWB

    MWB Member

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    I'm one of those who didn't know how to type them and was doing it incorrectly.

    I came up with ctrl+alt+ (numkey -) in MSWord tp type them in simply.

    Thanks again for educating me Louanne!
     
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  22. trevorD

    trevorD Active Member

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    As an old man, I take advantage of every opportunity to blame the dog for things it had nothing to do with (especially at the dinner table). A comma splice would certainly be one such thing.
     
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  23. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    well, it's not so good for formal writing. I don't think it's always inappropriate to use them. I'm reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon at the moment, and Rebecca West uses them in some places. At first I thought "hmm," but it works. It's good at conveying a more breathless effect. Semicolons and periods can be so deliberate.
     
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  24. KiraAnn

    KiraAnn Senior Member

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    In Word, you can just type two dashes and Word usually converts it.
     
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  25. Also

    Also Student of Humanity Supporter

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    In fact, Word is even smart enough to convert selectively to an em-dash if you leave no spaces or an en-dash if you leave a space on both sides.

    However, the conversion takes place only after you end the word after the dash by typing a space or punctuation.

    It's configurable, so conversion might be turned off in some installations.
     

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