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He was left with two options. One was to disappear as far away from Spanish territory as possible, the other was to receive a bullet through his neck on the spot.

This sentence bothers me terribly. It seems that there has to be word "and" between "One...possible," and "the other...spot" so as to make it look like this:

One was to disappear as far away from Spanish territory as possible, and the other was to receive a bullet through his neck on the spot.

I'm pretty sure that the "and" can be deleted when a phrase comes after word "and" but I never thought it possible when clause came after "and." Any explanations would suffice.

Thank you.

  • There are those who do not condemn comma splices per se. But even they might think that the two independent clauses used here are too lengthy to reasonably join with a comma rather than a semicolon. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 6 '15 at 22:37
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    @Edwin: I don't have a problem with it. The lack of interior punctuation in the clauses makes the single comma between them stand out in high enough relief to suit me. – Robusto Aug 6 '15 at 22:40
  • So I guess it differs depending on one's taste. – sooeithdk Aug 6 '15 at 22:41
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    If you're happy with the comma splice, it can be used to give a more fluid rendering. The use of a semicolon or two sentences gives a more dramatic and contrastive pause. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 6 '15 at 22:50
  • A semicolon reads better to me here than either a comma or an added word. – Blacklight Shining Aug 7 '15 at 2:21
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The word and is a coordinating conjunction. In this case, the comma was used to link the two coordinate clauses together which is unsual. A comma can be used between the two clauses of a compound sentence, if it precedes the conjunction. Compound sentences can also be linked without a coordinating conjunction by using a semicolon:

He was left with two options. One was to disappear as far away from Spanish territory as possible; the other was to receive a bullet through his neck on the spot.

The comma is acceptable as long as the coordinating conjunction is also present:

He was left with two options. One was to disappear as far away from Spanish territory as possible, and the other was to receive a bullet through his neck on the spot.

Note that this comma is optional and not required. The coordinating conjunction can be used without it. However, if the subject of the second sentence is elided, you cannot use the comma:

  • He saw me and ran away.
  • He saw me, and he ran away.

You can find more information along with many examples about linking compound sentences here.

You could also link the two clauses as a complex sentence using a subordinating conjunction such as while.

  • An answer on ELU is expected to be backed by supporting material. I'd love to see a source backing the claim that '[a comma] is a coordinating conjunction'. Also, authorities supporting and recommending against the use of comma splices in various situations should be included. But this is a duplicate by this stage. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 7 '15 at 16:07
  • My claim about the comma was wrong as you probably suspected. I've done some research, corrected my answer and added a source with extra information. – Sander Aug 7 '15 at 18:09

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