comma or semicolon [c. splice]: is very cold, we are about to freeze

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Bigtime, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Bigtime

    Bigtime Senior Member

    Arabic
    I wrote:

    The room is very cold, we are about to freeze out of cold.
    Is the comma or the semicolon is proper to use in this context?

    I have 2 independent sentences without a connector. I am referring we're about to freeze because the room is very cold.

    Thanks.
    BT
     
  2. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    The semicolon should be used rather than the comma. But you should say "about to freeze from the cold."
     
  3. Bigtime

    Bigtime Senior Member

    Arabic
    Thank you.
     
  4. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Yes, a semi-colon, but even better:

    The room is very cold; we are about to freeze.

    Unless of course, you think there's something other than the cold you've already mentioned that would cause you to freeze. :rolleyes:

    (which isn't exactly accurate, since the human body succumbs to hypothermia long before it literally freezes.
    :))
     
  5. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    Joining two sentences with a comma is a matter of style. There is nothing wrong with it and the so-called rule is often broken when speech is transcribed.
    Even the prescriptionists "allow" it when the sentences are short and related.
    For example: My throat is dry, I can hardly swallow. (James Brown, The LA Diaries)

    I wouldn't bother to use a semi-colon in your sentences, but would write The room is very cold, we'll freeze to death.
     
  6. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I don't know if it's a matter of AE versus BE or not, but I agree with MuttQuad and SDGraham and strongly disagree with E2efour. I'd definitely use a semicolon after "cold", not a comma.
     
  7. Bigtime

    Bigtime Senior Member

    Arabic
    Thank you all for your input.
     
  8. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    The two examples aren't similar.

    In "The room is very cold, we are about to freeze", the two phrases have entirely different subjects (the room, we).
    But in "My throat is dry, I can hardly swallow", the two subjects (my throat, I) are similar enough to be able to justify a comma.

    I'd still use the semi-colon for both, though.
     
  9. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    Presumably you would also insist on a comma in the following excerpt from a letter? “Tell Johnny to read Santayana for a little while, it will improve his sentence structure.”

    And who wrote that? It was Mr White, who revised Mr Strunk's Elements of Style. Well I never!

    [Correction: "insist on a semi-colon" above]
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  10. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    No, this case is different again. I read the meaning as: “Tell Johnny to read Santayana for a little while, (tell Johnny) it will improve his sentence structure.” So the two verbs (read, improve) are both complements of the same imperative and exact parallels.

    But heck, this is language, not mathematics!
     
  11. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    No. I'd insist on a semicolon.
     

Share This Page