"P-P-Potter," stammered Professor Quirrel. He grasped Harry's hand.


"P-P-Potter," stammered Professor Quirrel, grasping Harry's hand.

In the first sentence, it feels as though Professor Quirrel waits for a second or two after talking to grasp Harry's hand while in the second sentence, it feels as though Professor Quirrel immediately grasped Harry's hand after talking, right?

  • 1
    I think the actions of the second sentence is as follows: Prof. grabs Harry's hand. Prof. stammers, "P-P-Potter." I mean, prof had already grabbed Harry's hand when started stammering.
    – 3N4N
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 11:07
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because answers to this would be primarily opinion-based.
    – levininja
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 15:49
  • Periods have a way of doing that - implying a pause in between actions. I've dealt with the same question myself a lot. I'd have to agree with your interpretation.
    – Tasch
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 0:39
  • @Tasch So in the second sentence, the talking and the action are not happening at the same time, right? He talks, then immediately grasps his hand, right?
    – austingae
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 3:00
  • austingae - Personally, I would assume that in the first example, Professor Q stammers to Harry and then grabs his hand, while in the second example he speaks while grasping Harry's hand
    – Tasch
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 4:07

1 Answer 1


The first one is clunky. The second one is smoother.

Commas are helpful; the first one is harder to read with the period. With a period you pause, whereas a comma is like a divider. For example: "I hate apples, so I toss the apple in the trash." The part "I hate apples" is like a thought and "I toss the apple in the trash" is an action.

You don't get the same thing with a period. "I hate apples. I toss the apple in the trash." Sure it's good but you can always do better.

If you read your story and you have to pause and reread a sentence then you did something wrong. You never want a reader to have to reread a sentence; it ruins the mood that you set in your story.

Hope this helps! :)

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