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brer
07-21-2006, 11:01 AM
I've seen this done in so many conflicting ways, I'm all confused, again.

The MAIN question: For a sentence like:
e.g. Sue kicked the dog, slapped the cat and threw the fish.
If I wanna use 'then' . . . then is it:
new: Sue kicked the dog, then slapped the cat and then threw the fish. ? ? ? Did I do the "translation" right here?

A sub-question (?) of the above is, which of the below is correct:
0.) Sue kicked the dog and slapped the cat. -- I know that's correct, I think . . .
1.) Sue kicked the dog, slapped the cat.
2.) Sue kicked the dog then slapped the cat.
3.) Sue kicked the dog, then slapped the cat.

AND as a bonus:
For a sentence like:
e.g. Sue kicked the dog, and Mike slapped the cat, and Bill threw the fish.
I assume that becomes:
new: Sue kicked the dog, and then Mike slapped the cat, and then Bill threw the fish.
Or is it something else?

If I got anything wrong with anything, go and tell me ....
(To compound my problem, I guess I also get confused as to if, or when, a comma can replace an "and.")

TsukiRyoko
07-21-2006, 11:12 AM
I think number three is right. As for the bonus, I believe it would go:
Sue kicked the dog, Mike slapped the cat, then Bill threw the fish.

As for Sue, Mike, and Bill, I'm calling PETA. :)

"And" only has a comma if it's conjoing a sentence that could possibly be broken into two sentences.

This is a good example of a relative sentence, and you can see where the comma goes.

"and, xxxxx" is usually only used in dialect, if ever. The use of it makes me and other twinge. I can't think of where it'd be used normally.

brer
07-21-2006, 11:24 AM
I guess one of the questions I'm asking is: If I start with a good sentence (which is a big if for me) that has comma's and "and's" for a sequence of actions . . . then by merely adding "then's" by partnering them with "the appropriate" comma and "and" . . . do I create another proper sentence w.r.t. grammer?
(That is, a new sentence that describes a sequence of actions w.r.t. time.)

Aside: PETA is too busy at the moment. They're trying to stop the boiling of live crabs. And trying to get the old Dutch areas of New York to rename their rivers (and towns) that have names that are "anti-animal". e.g. Fishkill. ('kill' comes from Dutch, kinda means river or creek, I think. Thus, "Fishkill" means "River (full) of fish," I guess.)

TsukiRyoko
07-21-2006, 12:12 PM
Sometimes. Comma use can be tricky, it's a very circumstantial little mark...

Use your best judgment, I suppose. Hey, if you ever need help, at least you know what website to come to. :)

But Fishkill is simply the best for ripping open the roof of the little fishy's mouth. They can't rename it!

Puma
07-21-2006, 01:57 PM
Your post is a bit confusing. A comma should be used to separate items in a series (including the next to last and last item unless the last two items go together as a unit (bread and butter). When you use a comma to separate items in a series, and's are superfluous except before the last item. A series is more than two items. Watch out about using too many then's. Puma

Jamesaritchie
07-21-2006, 05:50 PM
Stick the word "and" in the sentence. Using "and then" makes it clearer.

dclary
07-22-2006, 01:35 AM
I guess one of the questions I'm asking is: If I start with a good sentence (which is a big if for me) that has comma's and "and's" for a sequence of actions . . . then by merely adding "then's" by partnering them with "the appropriate" comma and "and" . . . do I create another proper sentence w.r.t. grammer?
(That is, a new sentence that describes a sequence of actions w.r.t. time.)

Since this *is* a post about grammar, in a forum on grammar, I thought I'd point out that you need to remove the apostrophe from comma's, and's and then's. And that should also answer your question.

reph
07-22-2006, 01:55 AM
"So-and-so did something, and then she did something else, and then she did a third thing" is grammatically correct, but it's boring, even with real actions instead of the "something"s. That's the way small children tell stories. "We watched TV, and then we went to Johnny's house, and then we had pizza." Looking at how your favorite writers handle sequences of events might give you ideas for ways to do it that read more smoothly.

brer
07-22-2006, 04:40 AM
Since this *is* a post about grammar, in a forum on grammar, I thought I'd point out that you need to remove the apostrophe from comma's, and's and then's. And that should also answer your question.
And what question did you answer?
What is that "answer"?

brer
07-22-2006, 04:47 AM
I've seen sentences similar to the below.
1.) Sue kicked the dog then slapped the cat.
2.) Sue kicked the dog, then slapped the cat.
3.) Sue kicked the dog and then slapped the cat.
4.) Sue kicked the dog, and then slapped the cat.

Are they all proper w.r.t. grammer?
I'm assuming they all mean the exact same thing.
It just seems peculiar to me that the "and' and the comma can be optional. That is why I am asking. (One of the questions, anyway.)

reph
07-22-2006, 05:45 AM
I've seen sentences similar to the below.
1.) Sue kicked the dog then slapped the cat.
2.) Sue kicked the dog, then slapped the cat.
3.) Sue kicked the dog and then slapped the cat.
4.) Sue kicked the dog, and then slapped the cat.

Are they all proper w.r.t. grammer?No, they aren't. (On other matters, it's "grammar," and "below" isn't a noun.) The only one that's correct by my lights, for wording and punctuation, is #3. Some of us once had a big argument on the Novel Writing forum about comma plus "then." That would be #2. My view is that "then," being an adverb, can't be used as a conjunction. Try some other adverbs in its place and see:

Sue kicked the dog, next slapped the cat.
Sue kicked the dog, soon slapped the cat.
Sue kicked the dog, meanwhile slapped the cat.
Those sentences don't read right, because an adverb can't do conjunction duty. However, sentences that use "then" as in #2 have their defenders.

#4 is wrong because the comma shouldn't be there.

Jamesaritchie
07-22-2006, 06:21 AM
The only place I'll disagree with reph is that I like the comma in four. To my mind, the part of my mind that's working tonight, it's a discretionary comma, and to me, at least, is a needed pause.

I also think it's perfectly fine to omit "and" in dialogue. Being true to the way the character speaks is the only requirement in dialogue.

But I agree with reph that in narrative "then" can't do the job of a conjunction, and shouldn't be asked to. It is bad grammar.

Jamesaritchie
07-22-2006, 06:25 AM
Of, for the sentence:

Sue kicked the dog, then slapped the cat and then threw the fish.

Sue kicked the dog, slapped the cat, and then threw the fish.

brer
07-22-2006, 07:51 AM
So, I guess the answer (for me) is to first construct a sentence without the then's (I'll stick in the commas and and's in the appropriate places), and then I can go and add in the then's.

Thanks for all your help.

Not sure if I should ask this, but . . . in the STUFF (example) below:
ex. Sue kicked the dog, slapped the cat, and then threw the fish.
(Or perhaps it's better to not have the last comma (?), e.g. Sue kicked the dog, slapped the cat and then threw the fish.)

In that example, did Sue slap the cat after or during the time that she kicked the dog?
Does the answer depend on the context (of the sentence)?

reph
07-22-2006, 10:37 AM
For fiction, it's better to have both commas.

Sue slapped the cat after she kicked the dog.

Jamesaritchie
07-22-2006, 10:51 AM
What I really want to know is why Sue is so mean to animals?

alaskamatt17
07-22-2006, 11:28 AM
It's because she's upset with the way her life is going. She has no control ... all the external forces direct her throughout the day and at night she can only sleep. There's her boss, who seems to think she has either a hearing problem or is mentally challenged or both, and there's her ex-husband who beat the odds to actually win the custody battle for their two kids after the divorce (and now he's turning them against her, too and what can she do when there's only two days out of every week for showing them she's a much better nurterer than their father will ever be). Everybody controls her life, but she controls nobody's life. The only creatures below her are the dog, the cat, and the fish; sometimes the cat even seems to think it's better than her--always mewling for food or milk or God-knows-what--and the dog's too stupid to move its lazy carcass out from in front of the door when she comes home each night at seven. They're both part of the anti-Sue conspiracy anyway.

The fish, well, the fish just stares at her with those goggly, accusing eyes and who wouldn't want to toss something so utterly repulsive? It's cold-blooded anyways.

So she takes it out on them: the cat, the dog, the fish. They're the only ones who can't hit back.

Patricia
07-22-2006, 11:33 AM
What I really want to know is why Sue is so mean to animals? :):)

Patricia
07-22-2006, 11:36 AM
They're both part of the anti-Sue conspiracy anyway.

The fish, well, the fish just stares at her with those goggly, accusing eyes and who wouldn't want to toss something so utterly repulsive? It's cold-blooded anyways.

So she takes it out on them: the cat, the dog, the fish. They're the only ones who can't hit back.

Best read I've had all day. :)

Jamesaritchie
07-22-2006, 01:06 PM
It's because she's upset with the way her life is going. She has no control ... all the external forces direct her throughout the day and at night she can only sleep. There's her boss, who seems to think she has either a hearing problem or is mentally challenged or both, and there's her ex-husband who beat the odds to actually win the custody battle for their two kids after the divorce (and now he's turning them against her, too and what can she do when there's only two days out of every week for showing them she's a much better nurterer than their father will ever be). Everybody controls her life, but she controls nobody's life. The only creatures below her are the dog, the cat, and the fish; sometimes the cat even seems to think it's better than her--always mewling for food or milk or God-knows-what--and the dog's too stupid to move its lazy carcass out from in front of the door when she comes home each night at seven. They're both part of the anti-Sue conspiracy anyway.

The fish, well, the fish just stares at her with those goggly, accusing eyes and who wouldn't want to toss something so utterly repulsive? It's cold-blooded anyways.

So she takes it out on them: the cat, the dog, the fish. They're the only ones who can't hit back.

I hope she's not the protagonist. Most people I know, at least the ones I like, treat their animals better when times are rough. The animals love them when no one else does. She doesn't sound like a person I could empathize with. I think she should slap her husband, and then kick her boss.

Patricia
07-22-2006, 01:12 PM
So she takes it out on them: the cat, the dog, the fish. They're the only ones who can't hit back.

Are you saying this is THE story? I thought you were kidding. :)

dclary
07-23-2006, 03:21 PM
Since this *is* a post about grammar, in a forum on grammar, I thought I'd point out that you need to remove the apostrophe from comma's, and's and then's. And that should also answer your question.


And what question did you answer?
What is that "answer"?

Hi Brer,

In the quote above I've bolded a section that shows the most simple rule for how and why to use commas in a sentence.

A comma has many functions, but one of its most useful and important is as a list separator. What you're asking about is separating a list of events, but it's a list nonetheless. When you look at list rules, it's pretty simple.

If you have two items, there's no comma, just an and or other appropriate conjunction. If you have 3 or more, then you comma every item except for the last one, which you append with an and or other appropriate conjunction.

I hope this bit of "comma theory" helps explain the how and whys of when and where to place your commas.

newmod
07-23-2006, 04:12 PM
Maybe this will also help with the comma issue

http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/comma_usage.htm

brer
07-24-2006, 06:46 AM
Hi dclary (and newmod),

Thank you for your posts.

I was trying to get more info about the placement of then's, and also how it seems that sometimes an expected comma (mysteriously) disappears, or (unexpectedly) appears, when a then is added into the sentence.
( I think my prior sentence is also worded unclearly. ugh.)

Sorry for the confusion, it was my mistake in being rather unclear.

P.S. I ended up removing most of the then's from the two main sentences that caused this situation for me.