RE: And then ...

Subject: RE: And then ...
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: 'Nina Rogers' <Nina -dot- Rogers -at- DrakeSoftware -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 09:31:05 -0700

Nina Rogers wrote:

> My question has to do with the little word "then" in sentences where it
> isn't used as part of an "if ... then" sequence.
> For years, I used a comma before it: "Enter the data, then click OK."
> Then I was told that "then" must be preceded by a conjunction: "Enter
> the data, and then click OK."

You were told correctly. "Then" is not a conjunction and shouldn't be used as one. This is addressed in Strunk & White and most (all?) style guides.

> I also see a comma-less version pretty regularly: "Enter the data then
> click OK."

You can see lots of semi-literate writing if you look. :-) Replace "then" with "and" to correct this sentence. Again, "then" is not a conjunction.

> And there's the semicolon version: "Enter the data; then click OK."

This is grammatically correct. But I'd just make it two sentences.

> I've found/heard arguments/justification for all of the forms above.
> Which form is correct ... or are more than one acceptable? If so, which
> is "most" acceptable?

If you've found justifications for _all_ of the above, you need to be more selective about the authorities that you consult on such matters. :-) IIRC, the original Strunk & White is available on line, as are some other good writing and grammar resources. And you should have and use a respected style guide, like the Chicago Manual of Style, to settle some of the more discretionary issues (this really isn't one of them; using "then" as a conjunction is simply bad grammar).

Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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And then ...: From: Nina Rogers

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