Punctuation: Love is not a feeling ? it's a commitment

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Icetrance

Senior Member
US English
Hello,

I'm at a lost here: I don't know what punctuation mark I should you here. I need your help.

Love is not a feeling ? it's a committment

I thought of a semicolon. For some reason I don't like a comma here. I see it used, but something is telling me it's not right. Also, I wouldn't make two different sentences out of them because they're too closely related.

Love is not a feeling; it's a commitment

Perhaps, -- and I could be wrong -- a colon go work since I'm explaining what is meant by "Love is not a feeling" (e.g., "Love is not a feeling: it's a commitment).

A dash, which is relatively informal, could also work, I suppose.


Why do you think? I'd appreciate any input.:)
 
  • heartnsoul

    Member
    USA
    USA - English, Mandarin
    I agree with a semicolon, since they are two independent clauses. I don't think a colon would be right, as usually you use a colon when you either want to list something or provide an example.

    A semicolon would be correct. However, I would be hesitant to use the contraction "it's" - it just looks a bit funny. I think it would be best to say: "Love is not a feeling; it is a commitment."

    Best of luck!
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    On all the previous threads on this subject (and there have been many), two options have been put forward - either the use of the semi-colon or a dash. Personally, I would probably use a dash but I'm sure that the use of a semi-colon would be just fine. I agree with heartnsoul - I wouldn't use a colon. I disagree with heartnsoul about the contraction, however - I would say "it's a commitment".
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    On all the previous threads on this subject (and there have been many), two options have been put forward - either the use of the semi-colon or a dash. Personally, I would probably use a dash but I'm sure that the use of a semi-colon would be just fine. I agree with heartnsoul - I wouldn't use a colon. I disagree with heartnsoul about the contraction, however - I would say "it's a commitment".
    Yes, I do prefer a semicolon here. But, people seem to have a tendancy to use a comma to join these two independent clauses, which is absolutey incorrect. The dash seems ok, too, but it's a little more informal.

    I know why you two find the colon a bit bizarre here, but I've seen it used by professional writers like this, although somewhat rare. The colon can symbolize that something that has just been said is going to be clarified. In that case, a colon could theoretically be put here instead.

    Example:

    Life is hard: I just a lost my house last year (although in practice the semicolon is what normally would be seen in a correctly punctuated sentence)
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    What you are saying is not a casual statement. Error on the side of being profound and formal. Use the semicolon. And use "It is." Eg. Love is not a feeling;it is a commitment.
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    What you are saying is not a casual statement. Error on the side of being profound and formal. Use the semicolon. And use "It is." Eg. Love is not a feeling;it is a commitment.
    I agree that the semicolon is best. I'm just saying that in theory in a colon could be used here. There have been a few cases where I've seen a colon used to string together a sentence very similar to mine, whereas in practice a semicolon or the very "informal" dash would be used.

    Yes, I also agree: the contraction of "it is" is less formal and should be avoided in more formal language.

    Oops...I used a colon...!

    Thanks everyone for your input.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I wouldn't use a semicolon here, but a colon. The parts of the sentence are not really independent since the second explains the first. A comma or semicolon would not convey that relationship.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    If I had to choose between a colon and a semi-colon, I would definitely choose a colon. Hard to explain but I feel a colon leads from the first half into the second half and sets up a contrast; whereas a semicolon rather chops the thing in two, as if the two thoughts were (almost) unrelated.
    (If, however, I was given free rein, I'd opt for a swung dash ~ SEE HERE)
    As for the contractions, it would depend what I was writing for, but I'd try to be consistent, so either
    Love is not a feeling: it is a commitment
    OR
    Love isn't a feeling: it's a commitment.

    NB: this a Brit's opinion. I feel obliged to say that some of the conventions of American punctuation I've come across here on the forum have struck me as downright weird compared to what I'm used to ...
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    If I had to choose between a colon and a semi-colon, I would definitely choose a colon. Hard to explain but I feel a colon leads from the first half into the second half and sets up a contrast; whereas a semicolon rather chops the thing in two, as if the two thoughts were (almost) unrelated.
    (If, however, I was given free rein, I'd opt for a swung dash ~ SEE HERE)
    As for the contractions, it would depend what I was writing for, but I'd try to be consistent, so either
    Love is not a feeling: it is a commitment
    OR
    Love isn't a feeling: it's a commitment.

    NB: this a Brit's opinion. I feel obliged to say that some of the conventions of American punctuation I've come across here on the forum have struck me as downright weird compared to what I'm used to ...
    Here is support for the colon (rule four):

    Use a colon instead of a semicolon between two strong clauses (sentences) when the second clause explains or illustrates the first clause and no coordinating conjunction is being used to connect the clauses. […]

    Examples: I enjoy reading: novels by Kurt Vonnegut are among my favorites.

    Love is not a feeling: it's [it is] a committment.

    BUT:

    A semicolon is used to connect two sentences that are linked together logically.

    Love is not a feeling; it's [it is] a committment.

    As was mentioned above, there have been other threads about this question. There has never been a consensus, and I don't think there ever will be. For those who just can't decide:

    Love is not a feeling — it's [it is] a committment. :D
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I choose a colon.
    The colon is used to indicate that what follows it is an explanation or elaboration of what precedes it. That is, having introduced some topic in more general terms, you can use a colon and go on to explain that same topic in more specific terms.
    Source

    Use a colon before a list or an explanation that is preceded by a clause that can stand by itself. Think of the colon as a gate, inviting one to go on.
    You nearly always have a sense of what is going to follow or be on the other side of the colon.
    Source

    The colon is used before a final clause that extends or amplifies preceding
    matter.
    Railroading is not a variety of outdoor sport: it is service.
    Source
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Between such short clauses I prefer a comma: Love isn't a feeling, it's a commitment. Colons and semicolons somehow feel sententious amid simple syntax; and a dash would signal a break in the chain of thought.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I was thinking of a colon when I read the first post. But nobody has supported the use of a simple period here, so I will :D

    Love is not a feeling. It is a committment.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I get the feeling, not being prejudiced or anything, that so far there are four style guides suggesting a colon and a number of personal preferences for alternatives :p

    A small aside.
    One t in commitment.
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    If I had to choose between a colon and a semi-colon, I would definitely choose a colon. Hard to explain but I feel a colon leads from the first half into the second half and sets up a contrast; whereas a semicolon rather chops the thing in two, as if the two thoughts were (almost) unrelated.
    (If, however, I was given free rein, I'd opt for a swung dash ~ SEE HERE)
    As for the contractions, it would depend what I was writing for, but I'd try to be consistent, so either
    Love is not a feeling: it is a commitment
    :tick: (AGREE for both)
    OR
    Love isn't a feeling: it's a commitment.

    NB: this a Brit's opinion. I feel obliged to say that some of the conventions of American punctuation I've come across here on the forum have struck me as downright weird compared to what I'm used to ...
    I think that the punctuation rules governing the different dialects of English (American, British, Canadian, Australian) are minimal. I do find, however, that all speakers of all anglophone countries are generally a little too scared of the colon at times and automatically opt for a dash or semicolon a little too often for my liking. Is it illogical? Yes. A colon better explains what has just been said, whereas a semicolon just splices too closely related independent clauses.

    So, I reckon both could be justified if push were to come to shove, but I feel my instincts were right after all: A colon is best suited here (that's what I initially thought was best, but had doubts and then became more convinced by the first few answerers)

    Case closed for me (Affaire classé):D
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    Between such short clauses I prefer a comma: Love isn't a feeling, it's a commitment. Colons and semicolons somehow feel sententious amid simple syntax; and a dash would signal a break in the chain of thought.
    I just don't agree with that, although I see it commonly used in sentences like this. It's just not logical to me here and neither is the semicolon. I was quasi-convinced temporarily but instinctively wanted to put a colon in there.

    One of these days, I am going to trust my instincts. However, I am not against using a dash here (very informal). I am very curious about the swung dash, which may be fine as well in certain contexts.
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    I have to take back something I said: A semicolon -- although I don't prefer it -- could be justified because two closely related independent clauses does imply that the first one explains the second. Yes, there are cases where a colonis essential, but there are also time, as in the sentence above, where both could be justified. I guess it comes down to this in my situation: if you really want to stress that the first clause explains or illustrates the second one, use a colon; if not, use a semicolon.

    I still prefer a colon in my sentence above.

    Damn, I love colons!:D
     

    Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    I agree. Is this a non-restrictive appositive? I think so. In that case a comma would be appropriate.
    Can you explain that, Packard? I would have thought a comma would make the statement a comma splice error, but I know I've seen such sentences in print. So... why wouldn't that be a comma splice?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Still no references to support anything but a colon.
    Please back up any recommendations with sources.
    Opinions are interesting, but especially in threads about punctuation, they tend to be widely varied and unsubstantiated.
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    I agree. Is this a non-restrictive appositive? I think so. In that case a comma would be appropriate.
    I don't think it is illogical, even though it's commonly used. I will argue with world's best editorialists, publishers, etc.

    I believe that a colon is best, but a semicolon and a dash could be justified.

    Dashes, by the way, are highly overused in editorials these days; I'm embarrassed for those writing them.

    Correct and logical punctuation is crucial for good writing. There's no way around it.
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    Still no references to support anything but a colon. :thumbsup:One must use logic when punctuating. You just can't put whatever mark you want.
    Please back up any recommendations with sources.
    Opinions are interesting, but especially in threads about punctuation, they tend to be widely varied and unsubstantiated.
    You are absolutely right. All along I wanted to punctuate this sentence with a colon between the two independent clauses. It seems most right to me because it's the most justifiable mark in the situation. I think that a semicolon -- because of the notion of close interrelation between the independent clauses -- could work but not ideal. A dash could be justified in really informal texts since dashes are sometimes known as "all-purpose" punctuation marks (though I don't agree with that).
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Can you explain that, Packard? I would have thought a comma would make the statement a comma splice error, but I know I've seen such sentences in print. So... why wouldn't that be a comma splice?
    More thoughtful consideration leaves me in some doubt. This is from Wikipedia (I know that the references there are uneven, but it is convenient):

    Not all restrictive clauses are appositives. For example, Alice in "Bill's friend, Alice,…" is an appositive noun phrase; Alice in "Bill's friend, whose name is Alice,…" is not an appositive but, rather, a restrictive clause. The main difference between the two is that the second explicitly states what an apposition would omit: the statement that the friend in question is Alice.

    So, is this a restrictive clause? If you take "it's a commitment" to be equal to "but a commitment" then I think it is.

    Love is not a feeling, but a commitment.

    Love is not a feeling; it's a commitment.

    My feeling now is that the first example requires a comma; the second requires a semicolon. But they are so close in structure and they are identical in meaning that I am vacillating on the second example.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Love is not a feeling; hate is not a fad. <- semicolon indicating the close relationship between the two parts.

    Love is not a feeling: it's a commitment. <- colon indicating that the second part elaborates on the first.

    A semicolon can always, in principle, be replaced either by a full stop (yielding two separate sentences) or by the word and (possibly preceded by a joining comma).
    ...
    The use of the semicolon suggests that the writer sees the two smaller sentences as being more closely related than the average two consecutive sentences; preferring the semicolon to and often gives a more vivid sense of the relation between the two.
    Source
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    Love is not a feeling; hate is not a fad. <- semicolon indicating the close relationship between the two parts.

    Love is not a feeling: it's a commitment. <- colon indicating that the second part elaborates on the first.

    Good example! I often see semicolons used where a colon should be instead.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Good example! I often see semicolons used where a colon should be instead.
    Well, it seems to me that "it's a commitment" can just as easily be considered a restrictive clause, and as such a comma would be the correct punctuation.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Well, it seems to me that "it's a commitment" can just as easily be considered a restrictive clause, and as such a comma would be the correct punctuation.
    That would be a restrictive clause such as the example I found on Wiki?
    Restrictive: We saw two puppies this morning: one that was born yesterday, and one that was born last week.
    ;)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Well, I am not sure anymore. I took a look a some sites this morning after Googling "non-restrictive clauses" and they say that those only are set off in commas. But the examples don't clarify in my mind if the phrase in question is restrictive, non-restrictive or something else.

    And, of course, we are not just trying to punctuate this one sentence, but we are trying to derive some guidance for future ones as well. I don't know that I have progressed at all within this thread.

    http://ecow.engr.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/get/epd/397/grossenbac/handoutson/commasandmodifyingclauses.doc
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I don't think we need to "...derive some guidance" here, as the thread already includes
    numerous links to good sources. The "phrase in question" is not a phrase; it is a clause or a sentence, depending on the punctuation that comes before it.
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    Well, I am not sure anymore. I took a look a some sites this morning after Googling "non-restrictive clauses" and they say that those only are set off in commas. But the examples don't clarify in my mind if the phrase in question is restrictive, non-restrictive or something else.

    And, of course, we are not just trying to punctuate this one sentence, but we are trying to derive some guidance for future ones as well. I don't know that I have progressed at all within this thread.

    http://ecow.engr.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/get/epd/397/grossenbac/handoutson/commasandmodifyingclauses.doc
    That's ok! You can't give up. In sentences like mine, I often see a comma used most often. So, I do see where you are coming from. But why is that the case?

    When something becomes so commonplace, we start to see it as normal. I did think it looked normal but knew something wasn't totally right, logically-speaking. I then thought that a semicolon may work best but then realized that the two clauses were too closely related to use one as we're dealing with a clear explanation of the first clause. Apart from the period at the end of the sentence, that leaves the colon as the only logical form of punctuation here.

    It's strange: I wanted all along to choose a colon here but was somehow convinced myself that all would be against it, favoring a another form of punctuation.

    Sadly, there's so little discussion about punctuation these days, considering it's the glue for our thoughts.
     

    Icetrance

    Senior Member
    US English
    Hi!

    I think I have found something which may bring clarity and put a halt to this going-nowhere discussion. So, while researching, I came across theThe New Oxford Guide to Writing by Thomas Kane, which has something very important to say regarding this very issue:

    "A comma link used between independent clauses that are
    paratactic -- that is, not joined by one of a the coordinating
    conjunctions. The semicolon is the conventional mark, and
    employing a comma is generally regarded as a fault. Under
    certain circumstances, however, a comma may be used
    between paratactic clauses (though never obligatory). The
    clauses must be short and simple and with no internal stops.
    When 3 or more short related independent clauses are joined
    paratactically, the comma links are even more frequent." (286)

    When the subject of the first independent clause is repeated in the second one for elaboration or contrast purposes, a semicolon, or, in some cases, a comma is acceptable Examples:

    A memoir is history, it is based on evidence


    A semicolon is also acceptable in the sentence above, but a comma is preferable for reasons of fast movement and curtness of the run-on thought)

    He becomes callous, the population becomes more hostile, the situation
    grows more tense, and the police force is increased James Baldwin

    Above, the writer wants us to experience these short independent clauses as one run-on thought in fast movement. However, if this sentence would have contained hypotactic independent clauses, a semicolon would be preferred (hypotactic = contains subordination)

    So of all this begs the question: would a colon then be appropriate in the sentence discussed in the thread? Yes, it is justifiable because the second clause elaborates on the first, even if it is not what would be conventionally used. A colon, here, would signal the reader to slow it down to emphasize the importance of what follows -- as opposed to a semicolon or comma, which both want the reader to digest the thought all in one setting (a little more faster with the comma, though).
     
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