6. Do not break sentences in two.


New Member
I'm so confused by this rule I just read; its from The Elements of Style by Strunk & White.

The rule says:
6. Do not break sentences in two.

"I met them on a Cunard liner many years ago. Coming home from Liverpool to New York."
"She was an interesting talker. A woman who had traveled all over the world and lived in half a dozen countries."

Their explanation: In both these examples, the first period should be replaced by a comma and following word begun with a small letter.

What I don't understand is why these two sentences even need a comma? Isn't the second half of the first example a dependent clause? And isn't there a rule that says that if a dependent clause comes after the independent clause then a comma isn't needed? I thought the rules for using commas in sentences were:
1. Independent clause+Comma+conjunction+Comma+Independent clause
2. Dependent clause+comma+Independent clause
3. Place commas in between non-restrictive elements

Those are all the comma rules I know, so I have no idea where to place the rules that Strunk & White are talking about. If someone can clarify this for me it would be greatly appreciated.
  • Oeco

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The first comma delimits a dependent clause beginning with "coming ..." The latter phrase is not a complete sentence and suggests rather a continuing action during which the subject "I" met "them". The first part of the construction can exist on its own, "I met them on a Cunard liner many years ago." A full and complete sentence.

    The second example is what I would call an "appositive." The phrase "a woman who had traveled ..." modifies the "interesting talker." Thus it is not a new sentence but a modification of the full sentence "She was an interesting talker." It could be set off by "[a woman] who had traveled all over the world."
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