"Don't worry, it won't hurt much."

Is the comma the correct punctuation mark to use after "Don't worry"? This seems to be the norm, but I feel like there are almost two sentences there and that something more than a comma could be required. Though a full stop or a semicolon seems a bit much.

  • These are two sentences overlapping each other with a shared sense. Hence, using semi-colon should work here. – Ram Pillai Apr 11 at 4:12

Technically, there should be a semi-colon or a colon instead of a comma.

(On the scale of things, outside of a paper for English class, I don't think many would notice or care.)

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    Can you share any source about your answer? please – AbdulAziz Jun 2 '12 at 8:03
  • You use a semicolon to join two independent clauses. grammar.about.com/od/il/g/independterm.htm defines an independent clause. writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/Semicolons.html describes using a semicolon to join independent clauses. – Jay Jun 4 '12 at 13:38
  • -1 Most style guides, Chicago for example, explicitly state something like two short sentences very connected to each other can be separated by a comma. Sorry I can't think of their actual wording. – Arm the good guys in America Jun 3 '17 at 0:12
  • @Clare Please give a cite. Every source I've ever seen says that's wrong. Perhaps we're not talking about quite the same thing. – Jay Jun 5 '17 at 22:25

A comma is fine here, and neither a semicolon nor a full stop would be out of place as don't worry and it won't hurt much are both independent clauses. It's a matter of style.

As the link mentions, joining two independent clauses with a comma is considered a comma splice, but don't worry is... je ne sais quoi. For this particular sentence, I don't believe comma use makes for a splice.

If you want to use a comma, you could also say

Don't worry, because it won't hurt much.

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  • Thanks for the link. I'm left wondering what the difference is between "Don't worry" and other independent clauses. – David Oliver Jun 1 '12 at 15:02
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    While it's technically two independent clauses, I see it as more of an imperative supported by the second clause...the because is implied. – JeffSahol Jun 1 '12 at 15:03
  • The more I think about this answer, the less confident I become! Well said, @JeffSahol. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jun 1 '12 at 15:04
  • Isn't this a rather academic point? It would almost be certainly said rather than written, so punctuation wouldn't normally arise. If it is written, it would be in an informal context where readers would be unlikely to be concerned one way or the other. – Barrie England Jun 1 '12 at 15:15
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    In other words, "♬ Don't worry, be happy ♬" – JeffSahol Jun 1 '12 at 16:46

I believe the reason there's a coma in this instance is because its in a musical, a song, so it needs the flow. Without the comma, the sentence would be an imperative - 'Don't worry!' You know, like 'Don't worry. Period!' And wouldn't sound good in a song. Otherwise if it's being written, most people would use two independent imperative statements 'Don't worry! Be happy!' Does it beg the question: are you worried about being happy?

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