In sentences like:

What is your name _ now that you have changed it?

Where do they live _ now that the coal industry has collapsed?

Why are we still here _ now that the election is over?

is any punctuation needed in between the clauses? The only options I can think of:

1) What is X now that Y?

2) What is X, now that Y?

3) What is X; now that Y?


You don't absolutely need any punctuation at all, since the sentence is unambiguous as it stands.

It depends entirely on how you want it to be read, without a pause, with a slight pause, or a longer pause. And this will depend on the extent to which you want the Y part to be regarded as integral to the main thought, and to what extent supplementary to it.

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    For an intended longer pause: "What is X -- now that Y?" (if you really wished to emphasize the Y part) or possibly "What is X ... now that Y?" (for a delayed afterthought). – Martin F Jan 16 '14 at 7:03
  • @martinf I suppose you could use dots, but I would use a comma or a semi-colon. – WS2 Jan 16 '14 at 9:49
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    A semicolon looks decidedly wrong here, for not one but two reasons: The second clause cannot stand on its own, and the question mark it ends in belongs to the first one. If you are considering a longer pause, an em dash is the way to go. See Should I use a semicolon or a dash to connect two closely related sentences? – RegDwigнt Jan 16 '14 at 12:23

"What is your name" is the main clause. "Now that you've changed it" is the dependent clause. However, it is not a restrictive clause (the fact that it has been changed does not affect the understanding of the main clause). Because it is not a restrictive clause, you need a comma after the main clause. "What is your name, now that you've changed it. You can also take the second clause as an explanatory clause, the reason why the question is being asked, and explanatory clauses also get commas before them (admittedly, this last point is probably unorthodox, but I think it still holds true).

Either way, while the sentence reads fine without it, the "proper" method is to use a comma—well, proper according to the Chicago Manual of Style. There may be other style manuals that say different.

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