Jonathan Franzen and Comma-Then

Jonathan Franzen explains why a comma followed by “then” always gives a sour ring to a sentence, only I wasn’t sure why until now.

Jonathan Franzen: Comma-Then
There’s so much to read and so little time. I’m always looking for a reason to put a book down and not pick it up again, and one of the best reasons a writer can give me is to use the word then as a conjunction without a subject following it. [read more]

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8 thoughts on “Jonathan Franzen and Comma-Then

  1. Ha, second sentence of this essay had me hooked—as a noted book tosser I can relate. Great article, and something good writers like you know instinctively. Lovers of language can’t always give you the exact mechanics why something isn’t right, we just know. Nice to see it explained…in English.

    • Yeah, but it makes me want to scour all my novels for this. Because it’s one of those things that isn’t necessarily wrong, so you might let it slide in an edit thinking it’s just you. And it’s very nice to see it explained.

    • You’re right. Reading aloud is a must. I’ve been meaning to read Freedom, and reading this article has given me a big push. I don’t know much else about him, just heard he’s a bit eccentric. Why don’t you like him?

    • Me too. I’m on kill mode for “then” in all my manuscripts right now. And not just comma-then. All thens. I’m only keeping the thens in sentences that could not be rewritten without a then. Avert your eyes! It’s genocide!

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