Author Topic: Punctuation  (Read 8954 times)

SuzieHarris

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Punctuation
« on: January 06, 2006, 08:51:56 AM »
Hi Guys,

Just curious, so I thought I'd ask you all:
What punctuation confuses you the most?
I used to find it difficult to know how many times to use the 'comma' in a sentence before it became so long it bored you to sleep.
Do any of you have similar problems?

Suzie x


Lin

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2006, 12:42:35 PM »
Whilst on Christmas holidays I found a book in the cottage I hired - Eats Shoots and Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation now I find there is a punctuation game on the net by the same author, Lynne Truss.
http://eatsshootsandleaves.com/ESLquiz.html

Lin


Offline Nick

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2006, 07:43:48 AM »
Thanks for the link, Lin. I enjoyed playing the game.

I only got one wrong. This was where you had to put a comma (or not) in the sentence below:

Stop or I'll scream.

I could see a case for a comma after Stop, but I didn't feel it was essential. I therefore opted for "No punctuation".

The site told me this was wrong, and that I should have inserted a comma after "Stop". I'm still not sure I agree with this, though. A comma after "Stop" gives the word more emphasis, but I can't really see that it is grammatically essential. What do others think?

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Offline bestwriting

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2006, 04:09:53 PM »
The best way to do this is to read the sentence out a loud, pay attention to where you pause, every pause should be a comma.

Offline goldanon

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2006, 04:57:01 PM »
I've read somewhere once that some people can "hear" punctuation and so it comes to them naturally (like spelling),  while others have to master the rules in their memories.  I always thought I "heard" punctuation, but recently, when helping a friend edit a very complicated manuscript, with many long, long, sometimes way too long, sentences, I began to doubt my 'natural' abilities and found myself for the first time in my life having to look up certain rules of punctuation.  It gave me a little scare as I had not written anything in a long time and I was worried that perhaps, through lack of practice, I had lost the gift.  Ah well, if it turns out to be the case, I'll just look everything up - not a huge loss.  As Twain pointed out about spelling once, there is no glory in being able to do it well, precisely because it is a gift. 

Jayel

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2006, 09:25:08 PM »
I generally do a fair job with punctuation, though the comma is the bane of my existence.  I have awarded my editor the title 'Queen of the Errant Comma Enclave" - it seems to give her a giggle.

Offline red-hebana

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2006, 12:35:44 PM »
I find that punctuation is best left to proofreaders.... Seriously though I think it a mistake to proofread your own work, so tend not to worry too much about punctuation, someone will always point out my mistakes.   ;)

Lin

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2006, 04:16:55 PM »
Yes I agree on that one too, I hate reading my own work, I think that I love writing the story, but I think I would be too baiased in my thoughts and miss the obvious.     I would leave commas in and colons where an editor would read it and say 'oh! no not there.'   Its better to have a second or third party read it as often there is stuff in there which is nonesense and you just cant see it yourself.   What makes sense to you doesnt always make sense to the reader.   (Easts Shoots and Leaves!! as above)So you may as well wait until your editor steps in.   Then make further changes as necessary.

Lin


Offline Eroica

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2006, 12:45:38 PM »
Stop or I'll scream.

I could see a case for a comma after Stop, but I didn't feel it was essential. I therefore opted for "No punctuation".

The site told me this was wrong, and that I should have inserted a comma after "Stop". I'm still not sure I agree with this, though. A comma after "Stop" gives the word more emphasis, but I can't really see that it is grammatically essential. What do others think?
I think their reasoning is as follows: Without the comma, the sentence states two possible actions which are not necessarily associated; with the comma, it is implied that there is a causal link (or = or else.

My Chambers dictionary agrees with you, Nick, and omits the comma:

Quote
or else alternatively; because otherwise, because if not; used absolutely as a threat (Do it or else!)

I also agree with you. By the way, doesn't Lynne Truss break her own rules in the dedication to Eats, Shoots and Leaves?

Jayel

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2006, 03:06:54 PM »
I find that punctuation is best left to proofreaders.... Seriously though I think it a mistake to proofread your own work, so tend not to worry too much about punctuation, someone will always point out my mistakes.   ;)

I agree.  There is a whole sea of editors just waiting to do the job.  I find this a bit like the day the housekeeper comes; I feel I must tidy up a bit before the editor sees the work.  I really don't believe one ever sees all the errors in his own work - the brain is too familiar with the tale and auto-corrects as the author reads.

Offline goldanon

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2006, 08:53:13 AM »
re: "Stop or I'll scream."  I totally disagree with putting the comma after 'stop' in that sentence.  It seems to me it does exactly the opposite: it lessens the emphasis on the word 'stop' and it gives a pause where a speaker never would.  No one says Stop pause or I'll scream.  Do they?  If they do, I rarely hear it that way.  It seems to me the word HAS to collide with the rest of the sentence!

Offline Symphony

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2006, 09:18:42 AM »
Mmmm - good one, that. I think I would have put a comma (going to try that game now - good excuse for even MORE procrastination!) although I can't explain why I think it's necessary. When I say it out loud, however, I do pause slightly after the stop - and I also think it's two actions - if I were to write 'Stop or not, I'm going to scream', I'd definitely put the comma, so it's just a bit shorter, isn't it?

Dunno - think I'm just trying to convince myself ... (I'm that weak!!!!  ???)

But while we're on the subject of puntuation nightmares, that'd be the semi-colon in my case (as opposed to my colon!)

Semi-colons! Ugh! Not a clue! They haunt me.

 ::)

Offline chillies

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2006, 09:42:49 AM »
I know what you mean Symphony, I also have a problem with the semi-colon. I'm really not sure where and

when to use it. I also have a problem with the exclamation point. Thinking about it I would have probably
 
used it in the above case  "Stop! or I'll scream" saying that, I think you need a capital letter after an

exclamation point so it would look like this "Stop! Or I'll scream" and that really wouldn't do would it?

chillies

Offline goldanon

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2006, 02:59:36 PM »
hmmm now that I thnk about it a little longer (procrastinating here too) I think I'm going to have to "totally" change my mind!  There is a pause after 'stop' isn't there?  It's just a very subtle one - I actually spoke the words aloud and have to say I was wrong in the first place.  (Hope my neighbors aren't too alarmed.)  Yes, the comma is needed - even exclamation point is better than no pause - and I believe that when you use an exclamatory as part of a sentence, you don't have to capitalize the rest of the sentence.  Though 'stop' isn't necessarily an exclamatory, it IS being used as one here... so I'm going with "Stop! or I'll scream!"  oh wait no that looks very wrong - good grief what am I doing?  Gotta get back to WORK!

Offline Jennifer

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Re: Punctuation
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2006, 07:46:42 PM »
>Stop or I'll scream.

>I could see a case for a comma after Stop

There is a reason for this ... some "experts" recommend a comma and a conjunction to join two independent clauses. So use a comma here:

Stop, or I'll scream.

And here: She got into the car, and she drove away.

But not here:  She got into the car and drove away.

Chuckle ... don't you love grammar?  ;)
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