Which is the correct punctuation and why?

Please could you tell me the differences between:

I met Harry, we went for a swim together, and afterwards Harry went home.
I met Harry and we went for a swim together, afterwards Harry went home.

Many Thanks
Andrew

Comments

  • In the first sentence, the second comma is not necessary. In the second sentence, the comma should be replaced by a semi-colon.

  • Well that's your preference @rsutherland605, but Andrew asked about the difference.

    I suppose the question is about using commas and/or the word and to link FINITE CLAUSES — that is to say clauses that could stand alone as sentences.
    1. I met Harry.
    2. We went for a swim together.
    3. Afterwards, Harry went home

    Andrews sentences link 1 & 2 in two ways:

    • I met Harry, we went for a swim together.
      This is what is known as a comma-splice sentence. Many people find them unacceptable.

    • I met Harry and we went for a swim together.
      This is the normal way to link two finite clauses.

    He links [1+2] to 3 in two ways

    • ..., and afterwards Harry went home
      This is what is known as an Oxford comma, which some writers use before the final item in a list.
      The problem is that the word afterwards in clause 3 makes it seem different from the other two, so it doesn't quite feel like a list.

    • ..., afterwards Harry went home
      This would be another comma slice. I think it would be even more unacceptable late in the sentence like this. It would be slightly more acceptable to have two comma-splices:
      I met Harry, we went for a swim together, afterwards Harry went home.
      But again, the word afterwards makes it seem not to be a proper list.

    The basic problem is that commas and and are not suitable alone to link these three clauses. There are various possible solutions:

    1. Punctuate as three sentences — I met Harry. We went for a swim together. Afterwards, Harry went home.
    2. Punctuate as two sentences with and in the first — I met Harry and we went for a swim together. Afterwards, Harry went home.
    3. Punctuate as two sentences with and in the second — I met Harry. We went for a swim together, and afterwards Harry went home.
    4. Use when and andWhen I met Harry we went for a swim together, and afterwards Harry went home.

    In any case, it might be better to omit afterwards.
    You could perhaps use then or and then instead:

    I met Harry. We went for a swim together, and then Harry went home.
    I met Harry, and we went for a swim together. Then, Harry went home.
    I met Harry and we went for a swim together, and then Harry went home.

  • According to me, the Second sentence is correct but there is no need of together and in 1st sentense no need of two commas.
    I met Harry and we went for a swim. Afterwards, Harry went home.

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