I was a bit surprised by a query from a freelance editor I’m working with. She was asking about how to treat sentences of the “First do this, then do that” type. “Adverbial conjunction? Run-on?” she asked. “Truth is, I’m fine with it in informal writing, especially when the two parts are very closely connected. But because so many people consider it a run-on, I usually change it.”
So many people what?
Well, it turns out she’s right. Many people do think that it’s wrong to write, for instance, “I picked up the groceries, then I stopped at the liquor store.” “Comma splice!” they admonish. “Should be ‘…and then.'”
Well, geez. They should have told that to all those educated, fluent people who have been doing it that way for the past millennium or so, so they wouldn’t have been wrong all this time! Continue reading