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I have a sentence that says this, "'They probably want us, let’s get out of here,' Jake said to Adam."

In a situation like this, is using correct grammar necessary? Do I have to say, "'They probably want us; let's get out of here,' Jake said to Adam.", or can I leave it as it was stated above?

  • I'm confused. What do you perceive as the significant difference between the two, and why would you not prefer "correct grammar"? – Hot Licks Dec 15 '15 at 20:35
  • The significant difference is that the first sentence is a run-on because it has a comma splice, while the second sentence is complete because it uses a semicolon. I 'would not prefer' correct grammar in this situation because I already turned the assignment in and was docked points for this. I was wondering if I really should have been, and if usage was at least acceptable in this situation. – Keller Martin Dec 15 '15 at 20:44
  • Claiming a "comma splice" makes the sentence "run-on" when the semicolon does not is a bit P-ist, but it's the sort of pedanticism which is to be expected from some educators. It's a silly technicality, but not worth arguing about (unless it makes the difference between passing and failing). – Hot Licks Dec 15 '15 at 20:51
  • And if it does make a difference between a letter grade, then what would you say, because the semester is ending soon. – Keller Martin Dec 15 '15 at 20:58
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    (If the text you were quoting was from another printed text, then one might argue that it's more important to quote precisely than to correct any punctuation "errors" in the original author's work. But when you're quoting, in essence, spoken language then there is no punctuation present in the original other than the pauses that one might hear, and one should generally strive to adhere to some "standard" of punctuation. What "standard" is up to you ... and your instructor.) – Hot Licks Dec 15 '15 at 21:05
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I'm confused, but there appears to be two possibilities here...

  1. You see the following sentence:

"They probably want us, let's get out of here," Jake said to Adam.

You want to quote the sentence, so you just change the quotes, like this:

"'They probably want us, let's get out of here,' Jake said to Adam."

  1. You actually heard Jack tell Adam, "They probably want us, let's get out of here." In that case, you would write this:

"They probably want us, let's get out of here," Jack said to Adam.

However, I'd be inclined to replace the first comma with a semicolon in this second example, and an exclamation point might be a good addition, too...

"They probably want us; let's get out of here!" Jack said to Adam.

Or replace the semicolon with a dash...

"They probably want us - let's get out of here!" Jack said to Adam.

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Yes. You have two main clauses separated by a comma. Pop in a the word "so" and all is fine:

"They probably want us, so let’s get out of here," Jake said to Adam.

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    I think the issue here is that the first part of the sentence is a quotation. Thus, we can't "pop in a word" to make everything fine. (If Jake didn't say "so," then it shouldn't be added to the quote, hence the O.P.'s dilemma.) – J.R. Dec 16 '15 at 1:42

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