Comma splices - are they OK?


Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 44

Thread: Comma splices - are they OK?

  1. #1
    Wɾˇʇˇ∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    In a far-distant otherworld.
    Posts
    3,486
    Blog Entries
    4

    Comma splices - are they OK?

    Comma splices: are they acceptable? When? Why do people use them?

    I ask because I'm reading an indie epic fantasy book, and really enjoying its proper tropey comfort lords'n'swords feel which is what I'm in the mood for. And for an indie read it is pretty good - I don't know if that is disparaging or not, though it is broadly speaking in line with my experience. However there are a good number of of comma splices: you know, those sentences that are joined by a comma, like: "The sun was shining, it was going to be a great day." Can someone explain why people do this? I understand it can suggest a certain flightiness of voice and rapidity of thought but even so, if that's true it is very very over-used. To me it looks grammatically incorrect and frankly sloppy in about nine out of ten cases. Yet I see it everywhere, particularly in what you might say is less-rigorously edited work - indies, self-pubs, early drafts etc. It just seems odd that it roughly correlates, in my view, to the professionalism of a piece, and yet I don't often hear comments about it. Am I alone, perhaps a relic? Is it good grammar after all? I feel I am shouting into a Nietzschean lexical singularity,[<-aarrggh!] it is very dark.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  2. #2
    Member InSickHealth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Lahaina, Maui, HI
    Posts
    80
    Blog Entries
    3
    I personally won't mess with punctuation, because I find VERY few times when I can justify tweaking that mechanic; I much prefer the semicolon.
    Learning another language sounds so enticing, but I'm just too busy mastering the art of how to swear in English

  3. #3
    Wɾˇʇˇ∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    In a far-distant otherworld.
    Posts
    3,486
    Blog Entries
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by InSickHealth View Post
    I personally won't mess with punctuation, because I find VERY few times when I can justify tweaking that mechanic; I much prefer the semicolon.
    You'll find no disagreement here. Same with the m-dash — I'd put those everywhere if I could. I treat both of these as syntactic sugar, chucking everywhere to add ... something.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    Comma splices: are they acceptable? When? Why do people use them?

    I ask because I'm reading an indie epic fantasy book, and really enjoying its proper tropey comfort lords'n'swords feel which is what I'm in the mood for. And for an indie read it is pretty good - I don't know if that is disparaging or not, though it is broadly speaking in line with my experience. However there are a good number of of comma splices: you know, those sentences that are joined by a comma, like: "The sun was shining, it was going to be a great day." Can someone explain why people do this? I understand it can suggest a certain flightiness of voice and rapidity of thought but even so, if that's true it is very very over-used. To me it looks grammatically incorrect and frankly sloppy in about nine out of ten cases. Yet I see it everywhere, particularly in what you might say is less-rigorously edited work - indies, self-pubs, early drafts etc. It just seems odd that it roughly correlates, in my view, to the professionalism of a piece, and yet I don't often hear comments about it. Am I alone, perhaps a relic? Is it good grammar after all? I feel I am shouting into a Nietzschean lexical singularity,[<-aarrggh!] it is very dark.
    The example you quoted looks wrong to me as well. If I were to use some punctuation at that point, it would probably be a dash. A semicolon might suffice too, but I think a piece can look excessively pompous if littered with them. My preference would be to write around the issue. The exact way to write around isn't clear, because the example has insufficient context and there are no surrounding paragraphs quoted.


  5. #5
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Indonesia
    Posts
    369
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    Same with the m-dash — I'd put those everywhere if I could.
    Same here. I've been spamming them lately.

    2212 alt+x in Word.

  6. #6
    I honestly think it's mostly about ignorance. There's literally zero reason to comma splice, it adds nothing and may just annoy a picky editor out of reading further. Pointless.

    I kind of object to it being mentioned in the same breath as em-dashes, to be honest. I might be biased, being a huge em-dash fan, but to me an em-dash services a very particular stylistic purpose in being less formal and more versatile than a semi-colon or colon and more forceful than a comma. An em dash creates a sense of separation that you don't get from commas.

    There was nobody she knew or was interested in going to Dale's party -- except Will, but he hardly counted.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

    Hidden Content


  7. #7
    Wɾˇʇˇ∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    In a far-distant otherworld.
    Posts
    3,486
    Blog Entries
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Istine View Post
    My preference would be to write around the issue.
    This is exactly it, for me. With the line "The sun was shining, it was going to be a great day." (which I just made up for this post), there are a ton of ways of not butchering it:

    "The sun was shining. It was going to be a great day." - correct, but meh
    "The sun was shining; it was going to be a great day." - correct, but OTT
    "The sun was shining — it was going to be a great day." - correct and it's ok, I guess, but nothing wow
    "The sun was shining, scattering patches of light across the lake and daring Bob to jump in. It was going to be a great day." - correct, context-rich, setting-rich, character-relevant. I mean, that's my opinion but I really don't see why people shirk the extra little bit of effort, preferring instead to fall back on about the crummiest sentence construction I can think of. Kills me


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  8. #8
    Wɾˇʇˇ∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    In a far-distant otherworld.
    Posts
    3,486
    Blog Entries
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I honestly think it's mostly about ignorance. There's literally zero reason to comma splice, it adds nothing and may just annoy a picky editor out of reading further. Pointless.
    Exactly. Though I would say that if a CS supports the voice (I always think of the opening line of A Tale Of Two Cities) then it can work, imo. But far too often I see CS's with no complementary voice. Doesn't work.

    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I kind of object to it being mentioned in the same breath as em-dashes, to be honest. I might be biased, being a huge em-dash fan, but to me an em-dash services a very particular stylistic purpose in being less formal and more versatile than a semi-colon or colon and more forceful than a comma. An em dash creates a sense of separation that you don't get from commas.
    Ah, no, sorry. To clarify, m-dashes were meant in the context of a workable alternative to the CS; I love me am m-dash, or a semi-colon, anything other than the dreaded comma-splice, to which, even though my antipathy is really quite disproportionate, I stand by my reaction.

    With this:

    There was nobody she knew or was interested in going to Dale's party -- except Will, but he hardly counted.
    I would say a comma could work here but it subtly shifts emphasis. Actually, no punctuation would work too. It's the entirely distinct sentences joined messily over a comma that I struggle with. Eg something like:

    There was nobody she knew or was interested in going to Dale's party, Will was but he hardly counted.
    Last edited by bdcharles; January 13th, 2020 at 02:46 PM.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    I would say a comma could work here but it subtly shifts emphasis. Actually, no punctuation would work too. It's the entirely distinct sentences joined messily over a comma that I struggle with. Eg something like:

    There was nobody she knew or was interested in going to Dale's party, Will was but he hardly counted.
    No punctuation would work but the em-dash adds, at least to my eye, a certain dramatic pause/rhythm shift, like the punchline of a joke. That's how I like to use them, anyway.

    But yeah: Comma splices = Satan.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

    Hidden Content


  10. #10
    When I first started writing, I didn’t know many of the rules. I thought of commas as verbal pauses, and that they repped a pause shorter than a period. By this way of thinking, comma splices are good and useful.

    I didn’t stop using them because I care about old fashion custom. I stopped because about 10% of people who read my stuff would comment on them or act like I was stupid, and I didn’t feel like hearing it.

    Indy writers who use comma splices were just people like me, but whose 5-10 beta readers didn’t care. They weren’t trying to conform to a traditional publishing standard, so they didn’t encounter as much academic critique.

    It’s not even a typo if the writer doesn’t care.

Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
This website uses cookies
We use cookies to store session information to facilitate remembering your login information, to allow you to save website preferences, to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.