I asked a question earlier regarding alternative ways of structuring indirect questions (please refer to this link).

Forgive me if I'm over analyzing this, but I never write sentences like this so I am not sure about the punctuation.

"I am curious, what is the time?"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the definition of a comma splice when you join two independent clauses without a conjunction? Both "I am curious" and "What is the time" are complete sentences. Normally if I were to say this statement, I would put a pause between the two clauses. If i said it faster, I would say it as an indirect question such as, "I am curious what the time is" or "I'm curious about the time".

The responses in my previous post said to use either a comma, colon, or a dash. Would a comma really be okay, or would this be a comma splice?

Second question is this: Since you start with the statement, "I am curious" wouldn't you have to end the sentence with a period?

By the way, the context of my question would be for formal emails with a conversational tone, and I would be writing in the 1st person.

  • A colon would be more appropriate. Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 10:13
  • 2
    Hello @Chris and welcome to EL&U! Just so you know, it's not necessary to say "Thanks for reading" or anything like that in your questions - in fact, we like to get straight to the issue in questions and answers. Your user name is signature and thanks enough, and if you register, you can fill out your user profile with anything else you'd like us to know :)
    – aedia λ
    Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 22:22
  • Thanks for the answer Mark. Just curious what your justification for this is over a dash.
    – Chris
    Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


Like others suggested, a dash (not a hyphen, be careful) or a colon are the most appropriated choices, but I'd exclude the comma. The examples would be as follows:

  • I am curious — what is the time?
  • I am curious: what is the time?

The comma must be excluded because it would constitute a comma splice, since it must be used along with a coordinator (and, but, not, so, etc). A semicolon can be adopted but sometimes it requires a conjunctive adverb at the beginning of the second clause (see hence, for example), so it depends on the case.

You don't have to end the sentence with a period; in this case you wouldn't. A period separates completely two ideas and in your example they are related so a period would not be advisable.

What's sure is that you can't avoid to use something. If you don't put anything between the two clauses, you'll end up writing a run-on sentence. In order to make it clearer about it, look at the example below, which shows a run-on sentence. It doesn't make much sense:

I am curious what is the time?

You can understand its meaning of course, but considering syntax rules, it's grammatically incorrect.

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    Yes, thank you. And excuse the careless mistake about the dash and hyphen. I usually use a dash in this situation, but mix up the names:( I'll edit the mistake right now.
    – Chris
    Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 10:53
  • Do not worry! :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 11:00
  • An example using the same words and including the period as the author though it might require is "I am curious (about) what the time is.". Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 7:59
  • Comma splices are rarely considered incorrect per se, as the Wikipedia article points out. See also Is it- OK to combine two independent clauses into just one sentence?. Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 14:53

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