This is from a test:

What on earth have you done to your hair?

Oh. I've had it cut, do you like it?

I am wondering if the comma after "cut" is justified. Would a period, dash, or semicolon be better in its place?

  • 1
    "Oh, I've had it cut. Do you like it?" Oct 28, 2023 at 19:23
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    This is dialog, not text. Use a comma or a period or whatever seems to recreate the voice. Oct 28, 2023 at 19:38
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    Unless you want to be accused of the dreaded comma splicing, you should use a period, dash, or semicolon. (You can use a comma after the interjection Oh though.) Oct 29, 2023 at 15:20
  • In speech there are no comma splices because there are no splices. Phrase follows phrase and nobody cares about your spelling. Oct 29, 2023 at 16:46
  • A lot of people seem opposed to ever using semicolons or colons when punctuating speech on the grounds that nobody ever speaks a (semi)colon. But a semicolon is often used for linking closely-related sentences. You'd also want to consider whether "Do you like it?" is an afterthought said after a pause, or more closely linked. And as with any test, it depends on what you were taught in class.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 30, 2023 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


Definitely a full stop (period) after “cut”. Since the next part is a new question. It wouldn’t make sense with a comma. Though possibly there’s an argument for using an ellipsis instead . . . to represent a pause.

  • I guess it is the same case here: - Here, eat some of this. - I'd rather not, if you don't mind, I don't eat meat.
    – Quirkier
    Oct 29, 2023 at 13:00
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    Analyses at this thread refute the 'comma splices are always unacceptable' stance. Here, Professor Lawler endorses the stop ~ pause length correlation (, < ; < ... < . < ....) (though I'd not use a comma here myself). But there is less prescriptivism surrounding punctuation nowadays. Oct 29, 2023 at 16:48

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