2

11) Don't just sit there and introduce yourself!

12) Don't just sit around and eat!

Is it right that those two sentences eventually convey Don't sit and also don't introduce in #11 and "don't sit and also don't eat" in #12?

If there were commas in front of "and" as follows, then could they change the meanings and the sentences eventually say that you have to introduce, not sitting there in #21, and you have to eat, not sitting around in #22?

21) **Don't just sit there, and introduce yourself!

22) Don't just sit around, and eat!

Then if the two commas should be left out, you can't still understand them just as there were commas?

  • 1
    Example (11) doesn't sound idiomatic to me. I'd prefer (21a) Don't just sit there – introduce yourself! or (21b) Don't just sit there. [And] introduce yourself! (The alternative reading is most unlikely. If it is considered to make sense, (11b) Don't just sit there introducing yourself! is unambiguous.) // Example (12) is more idiomatic, and would be taken as meaning (12a) Don't just sit around eating! // Again, I'd want a heavier-duty stop than a comma to show the fact that there are two instructions rather than a coordinated one: (22a) Don't just sit around. [And] eat [something]! – Edwin Ashworth May 2 '15 at 10:09
2

In natural speech, the syntactic pause and corroborating intonation patterns of such imperatives resolve any ambiguity (if context does not). In text, punctuation (a comma, or a dash if the "and" is dropped, which it can be) would attempt to reflect those contours of speech.

Don't just sit there, and introduce yourself!

Don't just sit there—introduce yourself!

Introduce yourself! Don't just sit there.

Don't just sit around and eat!

Don't be a lazy bumpkin who does nothing but stuff his pie-hole.

Don't just sit around, and eat!

Get up! Enjoy yourself. Look at all the delicious food. Have some!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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