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Sweetlebee
03-21-2007, 05:34 AM
Which punctuation is correct?

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes lit up with joy.

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks; his eyes lit up with joy.

My first impression was that the second example is correct--two independent clauses need to be joined by a semicolon.

But then something from my old Advanced Grammar class kicked in, and now I'm sure "lit" is not used as a verb but as an adjective, which makes the use of the comma correct. Agree?

Also, is "lit up" a special kind of adjective? I remember a discussion about that too--because "up" changes the meaning of "lit", "up" does not function as an adverb in this sentence.

I'm not usually thrown by grammar, so I'm intrigued by this little sentence.

maestrowork
03-21-2007, 06:12 PM
It's ambiguous. It can be adjective or it can be a verb. My first thought was that the second is correct, because I see "lit up" as a verb (and a POV violation if it's Gabe's POV). It didn't cross my mind that it's an adjective.

If you want an adjective there, it's probably good to choose another word that is not ambiguous. "Shone/shining"? "Sparkled/sparkling"?

Jamesaritchie
03-21-2007, 07:08 PM
Which punctuation is correct?

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes lit up with joy.

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks; his eyes lit up with joy.

My first impression was that the second example is correct--two independent clauses need to be joined by a semicolon.

But then something from my old Advanced Grammar class kicked in, and now I'm sure "lit" is not used as a verb but as an adjective, which makes the use of the comma correct. Agree?

Also, is "lit up" a special kind of adjective? I remember a discussion about that too--because "up" changes the meaning of "lit", "up" does not function as an adverb in this sentence.

I'm not usually thrown by grammar, so I'm intrigued by this little sentence.



Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, AND his eyes lit up with joy.

giftedrhonda
03-21-2007, 07:10 PM
It's ambiguous as-is and could go either way. If you're not comfortable with it, rephrase.

In other words, I agree with the other two posters. LOL

Sweetlebee
03-21-2007, 07:22 PM
It definitely needs rephrasing or using the "and". I don't think punctuation solves the ambiguity. Thanks!

Flay
03-21-2007, 08:21 PM
I don't see any ambiguity. Either sentence may be correct, depending on the intended meaning.

"Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes lit up with joy. " Lit up can only be an adjective phrase there (& yes, up is still an adverb, modifying the adjective).

"Gabe stopped dead in his tracks; his eyes lit up with joy. " As you've said, the semicolon marks an independent clause, so lit up is the predicate.

That sentence would make an excellent example of how punctuation changes meaning.

Note: utter newbie here. Feel free to disregard.

giftedrhonda
03-21-2007, 09:33 PM
I think that's the point--we don't know what the intended meaning is, hence the ambiguity. :D

Sweetlebee
03-21-2007, 09:50 PM
Reversing the order makes the meaning clearer, I think.

His eyes lit up with joy, Gabe stopped in his tracks.

"His eyes lit up..." is now clearly a phrase describing Gabe, and I'm almost positive that's the writer's intention. I think I'd go with this construction and change "lit up" to "sparkling".

Flay
03-21-2007, 10:47 PM
I think that's the point--we don't know what the intended meaning is, hence the ambiguity. :D
Neither sentence in the original post is at all ambiguous in itself. Sweetlebee's question was, "Which punctuation is correct?" In fact, they're both correct. The punctuation determines which part of speech lit is, but the meaning of each sentence is clear as written.

In my opinion, that is.

maestrowork
03-21-2007, 11:33 PM
Reversing the order makes the meaning clearer, I think.

His eyes lit up with joy, Gabe stopped in his tracks.

"His eyes lit up..." is now clearly a phrase describing Gabe, and I'm almost positive that's the writer's intention. I think I'd go with this construction and change "lit up" to "sparkling".

It's still ambiguous to me, and it stops me. Anytime you stop your readers and make them see words, instead of being "in" the story, you lose.

Sweetlebee
03-21-2007, 11:37 PM
Did your eyes light up in frustration when it stopped you in your tracks? ;)

I'll recommend he change "lit up" to sparkling or something else.

Medievalist
03-21-2007, 11:50 PM
Lit (http://www.bartleby.com/61/17/L0161700.html) is a past participle; they're perverse and frequently act as adjectives. In this case, lit is a past participle.

Try using another past participle:

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes burned with unholy glee.

Lit is a past participle here. As the sentence stands:

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes lit with joy.

There's a comma splice; a comma just can't link two independent clauses/two sentences.

You could use a semicolon, but, really, fix the other problems posters have mentioned.

SpookyWriter
03-22-2007, 12:00 AM
Lit (http://www.bartleby.com/61/17/L0161700.html) is a past participle; they're perverse and frequently act as adjectives. In this case, lit is a past participle.

Try using another past participle:

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes burned with unholy glee.

Lit is a past participle here. As the sentence stands:

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes lit with joy.

There's a comma splice; a comma just can't link two independent clauses/two sentences.

You could use a semicolon, but, really, fix the other problems posters have mentioned.Nice explanation, Lisa. Now about the sentences. How about:

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes burned with unholy glee at the sight of the dead frog licking a popsicle.

giftedrhonda
03-22-2007, 12:17 AM
LOL - good fix, spooky... :D

maestrowork
03-22-2007, 12:31 AM
How the heck did he know it was a dead frog?

SpookyWriter
03-22-2007, 12:36 AM
How the heck did he know it was a dead frog?Because it was in the kettle waiting to be cooked. How else?

maestrowork
03-22-2007, 01:40 AM
If it's just waiting to be cooked, it's not dead yet.

Sheesh.

SpookyWriter
03-22-2007, 01:44 AM
If it's in the kettle then it is dead already. Sheeezzzeee...pfffffttt

maestrowork
03-22-2007, 02:11 AM
Obviously you have no idea how to boil a live frog.

:tongue

SpookyWriter
03-22-2007, 02:18 AM
Obviously you have no idea how to boil a live frog.

:tongueNo, but it does sound like fun. And you get to eat it later? Cool.

Sweetlebee
03-22-2007, 03:41 AM
Lit (http://www.bartleby.com/61/17/L0161700.html) is a past participle; they're perverse and frequently act as adjectives. In this case, lit is a past participle.

Try using another past participle:

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes burned with unholy glee.

Lit is a past participle here. As the sentence stands:

Gabe stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes lit with joy.

There's a comma splice; a comma just can't link two independent clauses/two sentences.

You could use a semicolon, but, really, fix the other problems posters have mentioned.

I agree with lit on its own as a verb, but it's actually lit up. Regardless of its parts of speech, I think "lit up" functions as an adjective. Your sentence would have to read "Gabe stopped in his tracks, his eyes burned up with joy." Grammatically, it'd be "burnt up". And I'm burnt out.....:D

Angelinity
03-22-2007, 04:25 AM
i think --for whatever it's worth-- that it depends on the genre of the piece. for mainstream, etc., it would read clearer of just split into two sentences: Gabe stopped dead in his track. His eyes lit up...'

if it's literary, you can 'complexify' the paragraph and use participles and adjectives, in which case the sentence should convey more than the action/progression...it should convey his gut reaction at the scene before him:

'Nothing Gabe had learned about preparing potions could have prepared him for this: live frogs, still twitching in the boiling liquid, rose to the surface. He stopped dead in his tracks. The recipe for the magic potion was right there in front of him, all the necessary ingredients already mixed in. Should he scoop out the frogs before too late? Would they survive the ordeal? Or let it unfold. To deliver the unthinkable --...'