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He defined the dandy, in the later "metaphysical" phase of dandyism, as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion, that the dandy's mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class being "an ordinary, working-class 'anti-star' who nevertheless loves to hog the spotlight.

Is this not a comma splice? Doesn't the clause starting with that begin an independent sentence. When is that subordinate and when isn't it?

The secret ingredient used in the recipe. That was the secret to his success.

This would be correct right?

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  • If you are concerned with correct sentence formation, your example isn't that great since it starts off with an incomplete sentence. ["The secret ingredient used in the recipe." has no verb.]
    – Lorel C.
    Jan 8, 2019 at 16:54
  • Also this sounds like creative writing, in which grammar rules may be bent or broken as the writer sees fit.
    – Andrew
    Jan 8, 2019 at 17:53

1 Answer 1

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No, it's not a comma splice. The section in bold isn't an independent clause:

that the dandy's mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class being "an ordinary, working-class 'anti-star' who nevertheless loves to hog the spotlight.

This doesn't work on its own.

If you were to remove that, however, then it would be an independent clause and you would have a comma splice.


The best way to make the sentence grammatical all around is to add something between the comma and the section in bold:

He defined the dandy, in the later "metaphysical" phase of dandyism, as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion, saying that the dandy's mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class being "an ordinary, working-class 'anti-star' who nevertheless loves to hog the spotlight.


Note that there is no closing double quotation mark in the sentence. The grammar aside, that punctuation should be fixed in some way.

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  • Can that begin a sentence fragment that follows on from an independent sentence if it has a clear antecedent; Is 'that' similar to a subordinate clause in its usage in my example also?
    – bluebell1
    Jan 9, 2019 at 18:52
  • @bluebell1 That is not being used as a normal pronoun to refer to something specific here. That you have blue hair is strange is different from that is strange, where it references something previously stated. Both sentences use that, but it functions differently. Jan 9, 2019 at 19:00

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