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I’ve always wondered whether you should put a full stop or a comma after come on.

  1. Come on, it’s just over there!
  2. Come on. It’s just over there!

Which one is right?

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The comma looks natural to me, but I'm guilty of overusing comma splices in informal writing. If you need to punctuate it as an independent clause, I wouldn't use a period: exclamation mark, colon, or semi-colon (according to tone) would better reflect the usage of “come on.” –  Bradd Szonye Apr 21 '13 at 19:26
    
So far the answers unanimously agree with my gut feeling that a comma is OK, even though it's an independent clause and that's normally not OK. Does anyone have a source in support of this? –  Bradd Szonye Apr 23 '13 at 5:25
    
I don't see any problem with the comma either. "Come on" just seems too unimportant an independent clause to end it with a period. I like to think that it really is still dependent for its meaning on what follows. And I don't suppose anyone would use this in formal writing anyway, except as a quotation. –  Kaiser Octavius Jul 9 '13 at 14:15

4 Answers 4

Both versions are correct. The difference is that in the former case, "come on" is an independent clause, while in the latter case it is a complete sentence. Neither is preferable.

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Commas are OK for dependent clauses, but independent clauses usually require other punctuation (or conjunctions, but they're not suited to this case). Do you know of any references that support comma use in this case? –  Bradd Szonye Apr 21 '13 at 22:11

As I see it, both "come on" and "it's just over there" are independent clauses/simple sentences, so they cannot be separated by a comma unless a coordinating conjunction is included. They can only be punctuated with a semi-colon, a full-stop or an exclamation mark.

I prefer a full-stop in this example. However, if you're trying to use "come on" to show disbelief of somebody's stupidity, you should use an exclamation mark. ("Come on! It's just over there. How can you not see it!")

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A semicolon should be used when linking two independent clauses that are not linked by a coordinating conjunction, e.g., and, but, or. Short independent clauses, which these are, are normally fine with a comma, especially if they more or less convey the same meaning. As they are capable of being stand alone sentences, they can be punctuated using a full stop as well. In your case I would vote for the comma, but I'm sure I'm going to post some very similar questions here for opinions regarding punctuation of this type of sentence, i.e., imperative + statement.

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Can you elaborate on the exception for short independent clauses? A source would be helpful. –  Bradd Szonye Apr 23 '13 at 5:30

The version with the full stop is incorrect.

There usually exists a comma in these situations. Such as: Come on, we have a lot to do. Come on, lets do the dishes.

But there can be a single situations where it can be used with an exclamation mark, as under:

Come on!

Even though there the phrase might be said in strong feelings or high volume, but it is written with a comma. Example: She yelled, "Come on, the building is on fire!"

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Hi, welcome to ELU! Do you have any sources in support of this exception to the usual rules for independent clauses? Normally, they require full stops, so to claim that a comma is not only preferable but actually mandatory is counterintuitive. –  Bradd Szonye Apr 23 '13 at 5:30

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