1. Published on Amazon? If you have a book, e-book, or audiobook available on Amazon.com, we'll promote it on WritingForums.org for free. Simply add your book to our Member Publications section. Add your book here or read the full announcement.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Dismiss Notice
  1. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,373
    Likes Received:
    1,101
    Location:
    England

    Punctuation for this

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Aug 22, 2016.

    I don't normally ask for help on this kind of thing as I'm quite happy in the area, but this one is niggling me. It's the fact they're all related, but commas or dashes seem wrong, and yet I'm not sure full stops are correct either.

    I must have lost at least nine pounds since leaving home. Whenever that was. I'd long since lost track.
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,494
    Likes Received:
    5,661
    Location:
    California, US
    It's not wrong. It's a question of style or flow, and if the above represents what you want, then go with it. Using commas or even dashes wouldn't be wrong, either, it would just give a different flow to the sentences.
     
    izzybot and OurJud like this.
  3. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,373
    Likes Received:
    1,101
    Location:
    England
    Yes, I kept saying it in my head, in the way my brain imagines it being said, and the separate sentences with definate stops between each is how I hear it.
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,494
    Likes Received:
    5,661
    Location:
    California, US
    I'd go with it, then. I think it works fine.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  5. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,470
    Likes Received:
    1,263
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    To me, it looks like those should be commas with one full sentence.

    I must have lost at least nine pounds since leaving home, whenever that was, I'd long since lost track.
     
  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    5,114
    Likes Received:
    6,252
    Location:
    London, UK
    It feels stilted to me, but that might be the effect you want. I would go for:

    I must have lost at least nine pounds since leaving home, whenever that was. I'd long since lost track.
     
    Sifunkle likes this.
  7. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    6,858
    Likes Received:
    6,513
    I like Tenderiser's version, but if this is for creative writing I'd accept any of the possibilities mentioned.

    (Well, except for @doggiedude's - sorry, Dude, but my antipathy to comma splices is as extreme as it is irrational. They make my eyeballs bleed.
     
    Sifunkle and Tenderiser like this.
  8. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    5,114
    Likes Received:
    6,252
    Location:
    London, UK
    ^ I was pretty proud of myself for not mentioning the splice. IT HURTS. :D
     
    Sifunkle and BayView like this.
  9. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    6,858
    Likes Received:
    6,513
    I don't know why I'm fine with sentence fragments, multiple dashes, loads of other non-standard grammar... but one damn comma splice? HELL, NO.
     
    Tenderiser likes this.
  10. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    1,917
    I'll chime in, for what it's worth and agree with @Tenderiser and @BayView.

    I wouldn't bat an eyelash if it were dashes, full stops, or commas. But I definitely think "I must have lost at least nine pounds since leaving home, whenever that was. I'd long since lost track." sounds much more smooth than the other possibilities.
     
  11. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,470
    Likes Received:
    1,263
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    And now you can see why I frequently post comma questions.
     
    Tenderiser likes this.
  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    5,114
    Likes Received:
    6,252
    Location:
    London, UK
    I wasn't taught how to use commas correctly until I was 23ish. The lazy 'use a comma where you pause' non-rule they teach kids has a LOT to answer for.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    10,102
    Likes Received:
    6,761
    I stare at the original, and Tenderiser's, and can't make up my mind.

    The original is technically incorrect. I think that the incorrectness is well within the limits of what's allowed for style, especially in fiction, but it is nevertheless technically incorrect. I don't know what percentage of agents/editors are sticklers about correctness, so I don't know if it would add risk of rejection if it were included in a submitted piece. An agent or editor who doesn't know the writer might be uncertain as to whether they're seeing a style choice or a lack of understanding of technical correctness.

    Tenderiser's is correct, and it also arguably flows more smoothly and gracefully, and it's just as engaging. But it has a very faintly different mood. The original has as sort of exhausted thought. by. thought. by. thought. mood that Tenderiser's version loses.
     
  14. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,373
    Likes Received:
    1,101
    Location:
    England
    Thanks everyone.

    @Tenderiser - please write an article on the correct use of commas, because even though I feel pretty confident with them these days it's only through instinct that I use them. I don't use them because I know where they should go.
     

Share This Page