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I am dumbfounded on why the man does not spring for Walton’s help, instead, he makes sure the vessel is headed North.

I'm confused on how to use "instead" in the middle of my sentence.

Is that grammatically correct? Any help would be great!

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    This is the classic 'comma splice' that many claim is always unacceptable (but dig around for alternative views worth considering). Here, something with more clout than a comma is definitely needed. I'd write 'I am dumbfounded on why the man does not spring for Walton’s help – instead, he makes sure the vessel is headed North.', although a semi-colon or colon could be used. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 18 '14 at 19:30
  • I'll leave this to show precedence, but obviously 'dumbfounded on' needs correcting to say 'dumbfounded on seeing that'. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 18 '14 at 19:49
  • What @EdwinAshworth said. Get rid of the comma splice. – Drew Sep 17 '14 at 20:54
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To correct the punctuation before instead, you can use either a period or a semicolon to bring the previous thought to an appropriate halt (or pause). In addition, I recommend altering some of your other word choices to yield a more idiomatically smooth end result. The versions I prefer are

I am dumbfounded that the man does not spring to Walton’s aid. Instead, he makes sure the vessel is headed North.

for the version with a break into separate sentences, and

I am dumbfounded that the man does not spring to Walton’s aid; instead, he makes sure the vessel is headed North.

for the version with clauses separated by a semicolon.

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In this sentence, the adverb "instead" is being used as a conjunction, which is incorrect (though not too uncommon). The "instead" is correctly placed at the start of the second independent clause. It should be preceded by a period (full stop), semicolon, or other indicator that a new independent clause is beginning.

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Sounds OK to me, although I might say I am dumbfounded why or I am dumbfounded as to why rather than I am dumbfounded on why, which does not make sense. And cardinal directions like north do not get capitalized in English.

Also, you are treating "instead" like a conjunction. Some would suggest using a semicolon instead of your first comma to separate your two clauses:

I am dumbfounded why the man does not spring for Walton’s help; instead, he makes sure the vessel is headed north.

I would also suggest clarifying that "making sure the vessel is headed north" is not adequate behavior for the man. Simply, only, or just do this:

I am dumbfounded why the man does not spring for Walton’s help; instead, he simply makes sure the vessel is headed north.

Depends on how you want it to be read, though. Your second clause is not directly related to your first. Your first clause is about the speaker being dumbfounded (about a man's behavior). The second clause describes that man's behavior. A colon or em dash might work better to show this relation:

I am dumbfounded why the man does not spring for Walton’s help: instead he simply makes sure the vessel is headed north.

I am dumbfounded why the man does not spring for Walton’s help—instead he simply makes sure the vessel is headed north.


However, the sentence you've posed sounds a little poetic to me. If you're writing a novel, it might be good. But most native speakers would probably both say and write this in one clause:

I am dumbfounded why the man does not spring for Walton’s help instead of simply making sure the vessel is headed north.

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