Given a rather long sentence that finishes with something like:

... and therefore, you need not submit that form.

Is it allowable to start the next sentence with, "Unless, that is, you .....", or will this need to be appended to the line after a comma? The reason why I would prefer to start a new sentence is that the first sentence already is rather long and contains several clauses and conjunctions.

  • 2
    One could certainly do this in dialog. It would not be at all unusual for someone to finish a long sentence, pause, then, after some thought, begin a sentence with "Unless, that is..." – Hot Licks Jul 14 '15 at 2:37
  • @HotLicks And I see no reason why it cannot be used in written form. It wouldn't seem appropriate to an essay, but to a story, in which one was reporting conversation, it would sound perfectly in order. I am also puzzled as to why this has been flagged as off topic. – WS2 Jul 21 '15 at 15:18
  • @WS2 - Yes, that's what I meant by "dialog". – Hot Licks Jul 21 '15 at 16:09

Because your theoretical sentence is a dependent (or subordinate) clause, the answer is no. However, as with many grammatical rules, if the context in which you are writing is informal (e.g., fiction), then it is perfectly fine and subject to your discretion; if the context is formal, you should more than likely not use a dependent clause as a standalone sentence.

If you think there are too many commas in your sentence, I would suggest prefacing your clause with an em dash (—). It would serve well to emphasize your contrasting clause without cluttering the sentence with commas.

I suggest reading this if you are still confused.

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    Jake's answer is correct so I'm up-voting it. The word "unless" is a subordinate conjunction introducing a subordinate clause (which is a dependent clause, just as Jake says). A sentence consisting of only a subordinate clause is technically a sentence fragment, which you might want to avoid in some formal writing (just as Jake says). However, rather than telling the OP that the answer is "No, except it's fine in informal contexts" I'd say the answer is "Yes, except avoid it in very formal contexts," to drive home that you can get away with it in the vast majority of writing. – William Bloom Jul 14 '15 at 2:53

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