Punctuation Clinic

As I was reading along, thoroughly enjoying a murder mystery, this sentence stopped me cold. It’s a terrific example of a run-on sentence, and I couldn’t make sense of it:

“I’ve said no comment can’t comment and plain I really don’t know more times than I can count and your Mrs. Martin created some kind of furor at the marina.”

To fix it, I’d use single quotation marks to separate what the speaker is saying now from what he said in the past. Then I’d put the brakes on the run-on sentence with a semicolon, and add a few words to switch gears, like this:

“I’ve said ‘no comment,’ ‘can’t comment,’ and plain, ‘I really don’t know,’ more times than I can count; and by the way, your Mrs. Martin created some kind of furor at the marina.”

Any thoughts?

Cheers,
Tara

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About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
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3 Responses to Punctuation Clinic

  1. Gabriela says:

    Oh, God, how could you even understand that this is what was meant is a mystery to me.

  2. Ian says:

    I agree with the use of single quotes for “quotes-within-quotes”; however personally I wouldn’t use punctuation inside the inner (single) quotes in this instance as they contain just phrases rather than complete sentences.

    “I’ve said ‘no comment’, ‘can’t comment’ and plain ‘I really don’t know’ more times than I can count…”

    • 123clear says:

      Good to hear from you again, Ian, and good point.

      Much time has passed since I wrote that post. Now, I see nothing wrong with the original version, which achieves the author’s purpose: to alert readers that the character is really upset.
      Cheers,
      Tara

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