Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

For formal writing, which one is technically correct?

  1. I don't give a damn, trust me. (Is this a comma splice?)

  2. I don't give a damn; trust me. (Should a semicolon be used?)

  3. I don't give a damn — trust me. (Could a dash be used?)

Thank you.

share|improve this question
1  
Trust me: I don't give a damn. (One could take that as (a) my interest in your question :-), not the case; or (b) a recommendation for a better way to construct the sentence, or (c) an attempt to introduce yet another punctuation mark :-) –  Carl Witthoft Feb 26 at 12:39
1  
As to #2. Why should I trust you just because you don't give a damn? –  David M Feb 26 at 14:53

1 Answer 1

I don't really think any version is appropriate in "formal writing" (unless it's reported speech).

The comma indicates a stronger link between the two statements, so we naturally interpret it as meaning "You can trust me when I say that I don't give a damn".

Using a semicolon implies that the two statements are logically distinct, so we're more likely to assume the speaker means "I don't give a damn [about whatever was just mentioned]. You can just trust whatever I say in this matter".

Both the above are just tendencies. It's still possible to adopt the "contrary" interpretation. But to my mind, the dash gives no real support to either alternative. So it's probably the worst option.

share|improve this answer
1  
#2 has some really funny implications. I can just imagine some politician: I don't give a damn. You should trust me! –  David M Feb 26 at 14:55
    
@David: At the bottom of the [pork] barrel, I'm sure there are some US politicians who actually say "I don't give a damn [about whatever it is they think their potential voters also don't care about]". But it's not a form of words I'd normally expect to hear from a British politician. –  FumbleFingers Feb 26 at 15:06

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.