In the following sentence what would be the correct punctuation

One more thing don't tell anyone about our conversation.

Should "One more thing" be separated by comma, dash or colon? Or perhaps nothing at all?


The simplest and the one I would prefer is to treat it as two sentences:

One more thing. Don't tell anyone about our conversation (on the subject of this and that ...)

This also gives you the facility to maneuver the second part.

Where the second part is short, and more important, use a colon to direct attention:

One more thing: don't tell her.

Where the whole thing is rather simple and short, just include a comma:

One more thing, it's better you don't tell her.

[EDIT] additional info, the em dash.
An em dash (—) may also be used: it serves the same purpose as the comma, with a supposedly stronger effect.

One more thing — don't tell anyone about our conversation.

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    The last example is ungrammatical and appropriate only for bestsellers and informal writing where punctuation and grammar don't count for anything. It's called a comma splice and seems to be as popular as kitsch (e.g., the Mona Lisa on a coffee cup or any painting by Keene -- children with monstrously "darling" big round eyes), which the masses devour as if it were manna in the aesthetic deserts of their iPod lives. – user21497 Nov 6 '12 at 12:02
  • +1 I agree two sentences is best. What about a hyphen? – Urbycoz Nov 6 '12 at 12:02
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    @Urbycoz Not a hyphen (-) but an em dash (—) may be used. It serves the same purpose as the comma, with a supposedly stronger effect. – Kris Nov 6 '12 at 12:10

A sentence like that would not be appropriate in formal writing at all. If you are reporting it as direct speech, a comma after thing would represent more or less accurately the way it might have been delivered.

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  • I'm interested in a situation when it used in a sort of playful text – alexeit Nov 6 '12 at 10:42
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    Then punctuate it in a way that you think makes it look playful, and use smileys, lots of asterisks and exclamation marks and Comic Sans MS font. – Barrie England Nov 6 '12 at 11:02
  • Seems that punctuation in English is exactly "punctuate it in a way that you like", which makes it harder to master. – alexeit Nov 6 '12 at 11:23
  • There is a school of thought that punctuation is not part of grammar but "style". And "style" is a matter of, well you see, style. :) – Kris Nov 6 '12 at 11:44
  • "not ... at all" seems a little strong. It would certainly not be out of place in a formal spoken text - The X Lectures sort of thing - and I think would not be deprecated in formal written texts in the humanities. It's a useful marker for your knock-out punch in a complex argument. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 6 '12 at 11:51

Three possibilities:

One more thing. Don't tell...


One more thing: Don't tell...

, and

One more thing — don't tell...

All three are fine in informal writing. I prefer the first.

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    I prefer the second. I probably overuse the colon, but it's the only conjunctive point we've got. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 6 '12 at 11:44

"One more thing." is not a complete sentence. Therefore, it should not be followed by a period or a semicolon. Remember that a semicolon connects two stand-alone sentences that make more sense together.

I agree that if the second clause is more important, then you should definitely use a colon. However, the longer a clause is, the more ease can be gained from varying your punctuation. If your sentence is shorter, you can easily get away with using a comma. If your sentence is longer, or contains a list which must be separated with commas, you should use a colon.

The em dash is very useful in this case, since there is often a much more prominent break between the clauses when using this phrase.

In formal writing, "One more thing" as a clause by itself should not be used. Instead, you could write "There is one more thing." or "..., because of one more thing." or something of the like, in which case you can use a period or semicolon.

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