Comma between two independ clauses

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I want to feel confident in your program, but things like this keep popping up. I remember from school that two independ clauses need a comma, eHow states two indepent clauses needs seperating, they used AND plus the comma. I did not want to use AND, instead just used comma. But you knocked it down as wrong. I need more input on your findins.My 7 days of free useage is almost up, the many things found wrong over the week-end and again today continue, I do not feel justified in spending the monies you require. As well, you keep suggesing changing synonmys. Some are justified, but if I allowed you to change to your suggestion, it no longer is my writings, but grammarly, and I do not like all you suggest. I NEED CLARIFICATION TODAY, 10-30-12. I will not pay for the many error you posted when comparing to the internet and William Strunk, Diana Hacker, and The Chicago Manual of Style of writing 16th edition

See example:

His voice was low, his words were harsh, and chill bumps spread across her body from his hot breath blowing in her face.
asked Oct 30 '12 at 17:18 Dot Yates New member

1 answer


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First, please understand that the Answers forum is manned by volunteers. Nobody here works for Grammarly, and we are all volunteers who enjoy talking about grammar and style. Grammarly employees, in general, do not read this forum. If you have issues with the service, you must contact Grammarly Support (see the link at the bottom of the page).

 

In my opinion, it is okay if you don't want to pay for the service. I, however, have found the service able to meet my expectations. Why? I do not expect software to replace a human editor. I have a human editor for my nonfiction, academic book. But it costs $2,500 each time she reviews my manuscript. So I turn to software for a first pass.  Software, at its best, gets grammar checking right about 30% of the time. But even when it is wrong, I learn something and my writing gets better. I try to figure out WHY the software said what it did. Often, I find a different error that the software did not flag.

 

Second, you need to also remember that American English has many different style guides -- ad they do not always agree. Strunk & White and CMoS don't always agree. MLA has its differences, as does the APA guide. The AP Manual and the New York Times differ on many issues. And if you bring British English into the picture! What is a software designer to do?

 

Third, the software is only making suggestions. You, the writer, do not have to follow the suggestion. You remain in control. By suggesting a synonym, the software is not telling you your choice is wrong. It is saying, like a human editor would, have you considered? If you play with the service for a while, you will notice that if you change a word to a synonym, the next time the software will suggest changing it back to the original. It is only a suggestion.

 

Fourth, it would be a mistake to rely solely on one piece of software or one reference book to guide/review your writing. I use four different desktop software programs and two different online grammar checkers to review my writing.  Each of the software programs has a different strength and a different weakness. While none finds everything, together (I estimate) they find about two-thirds of the problems. My human editor always finds more. I also rely on the Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed) backed up by the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. For spelling and usage, I rely on Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed) backed up by the latest Amerian Heritage Dictionary and Garner's Modern American Usage (3rd ed, Oxford University Press). I don't use Strunk & White because it was outdated when I was in college -- many, many years ago.

 

To your specific point, to join two independent clauses you MUST use (a) a comma +a conjunction (see CMoS 6.28-9), or (b) a semicolon (see CMoS 6.54). When you decide -- contrary to accepted style -- that you don't want to use the conjunction "and," you create what is known as a comma splice. And make no mistake, despite their frequent appearance in print, a comma splice is usually an error (the New Yorker magazine's editors have made ridding the world of comma splices a crusade). Garner's Modern American Usage suggests that comma splices are always wrong in nonfiction and are usually wrong in creative writing.

 

Your example sentence is a comma splice and, by the strict rules set out in CMoS, is incorrectly punctuated. The proper punctuation is --

 

His voice was low; his words were harsh, and chill bumps spread across her body from his hot breath blowing in her face.

 

While most of your readers would not notice the incorrect use of the comma, I would prefer the following:

 

His voice was low. His words were harsh, and chill bumps spread across her body from his hot breath blowing in her face.

 

Before you decide what to do, ask yourself -- if I am so sure that I know how to write correctly all of the time, why am I turning to outside sources to check my writing.  I like to think I'm right more than I'm wrong. But the more I learn, the more things I find that I don't know.

 

Good luck (also remember that using this forum is free; you do not need a Grammarly account to ask questions here).

link comment edited Oct 30 '12 at 19:26 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

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