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April 19, 2012

Franzen on Comma-Then

Jonathan Franzen doesn’t like your comma-then.

Comma-then is a disease specific to modern prose narrative with lots of action verbs. Sentences infected with it are almost always found in the company of other short, declarative sentences with an and in the middle of them. When you deploy a comma-then to avoid an and, you’re telling me either that you think comma-then sounds better than and, or that you’re aware that your sentences are sounding too much alike but you think you can fool me by making a cosmetic change.