Dependent Clauses

Margie Wakeman Wells The Comma, The Semicolon Leave a Comment

This is an email question from yesterday.

……Okay. Now, you told us, Ms. Ryan — right? — at one point you got up [, or ;] you left the room [, or ;] and you went to the bathroom. Is that right?

Amid all the other punctuation issues, the question is do we need semicolons or commas between the three elements at the end? It is easy to get distracted by all that stuff in the front of the sentence.

If we clear everything out, the sentence is “You told us you got up, you left the room, and you went to the bathroom.” Looked at like that, these are clearly dependent clauses with the word “that” missing each time. Therefore, it is a series of dependent clauses that needs commas between the elements.

And because of all of the other punctuation, a period before “is that right?” is best.

We just have so many opportunities to have fun!

Happy punctuating!

Margie

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