8 Jan 2017 17:54
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Phoenix The Rising Limits

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This thread is for those of us who really love grammar (but could always use advice and feedback). The structure of sentences and phrases can be difficult, and this is a thread where opinions and thoughts can be shared to help solve some issues. Some sentences (or a grouping of sentences) feel like they need to be simplified. Perhaps they need to be broken apart and expanded. As a community of writers, this thread should provide a place where we can, hopefully, better the basis of our writing skills, Grammar. When to break the rules and when to abide by them. Topics and terminology to share, research further, debate, etc. Share links to articles that explain topics, words, etc. that you or other writers seem to misinterpret, lack understanding in, or just to simply avoid.

This is not a thread to post other RPer's prose/passages for others to tear into, judge, or critique. This is not a place to post walls of text and have others edit. This is not an editing thread.

(Obvious) Disclaimer: If there is any flaming, critique without construction, derailing, or any other needless negativity, you will be asked to leave and/or reported.
8 Jan 2017 18:08
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Vilageidiotx Jacobin of All Trades

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The semi-colon.

Discuss.
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8 Jan 2017 19:33
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Phoenix The Rising Limits

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Hah!

;
The indecisive middle child of the full-stop and the colon.
It was an accident, but his parents would never admit to this. The mistaken flick of a pen, and this poor, unfortunate soul was created.

But, really, I, personally, tend not to utilize the semi-colon outside of lists following a colon. I use the full-stop to end a sentence because that thought has ended and it's time to start the next one. I'm kind of black-and-white in that regard.

I'm not against seeing it used PROPERLY in other prose, but if it's used entirely to replace the full-stop...I'll probably full-stop read the passage xP.

Yes, it replaces "comma conjunction," but that can just be two separate sentences. And we are now in an age where it would simply be confusing to read.
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8 Jan 2017 19:50 8 Jan 2017 19:52
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lady horatio

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Personally, I'm a huge fan of semicolons; I find that they connect two related sentences pretty well. (See what I did there? I know, I know; I'm not cute.) I like that they suggest more of a pause than a stop—when I want someone to stop, I use an em-dash. I feel like if you use punctuation carefully, it creates a lot of nuance and helps a lot with pacing.

I'm also a huge nerd who wants to be an editor when she grows up, so I know I'm totally in the minority. (Ask me how I feel about the Oxford comma. Go ahead.)
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8 Jan 2017 21:07
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Wade Wilson The Original Bonk! Boy

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Personally, I'm a huge fan of semicolons; I find that they connect two related sentences pretty well. (See what I did there? I know, I know; I'm not cute.) I like that they suggest more of a pause than a stop—when I want someone to stop, I use an em-dash. I feel like if you use punctuation carefully, it creates a lot of nuance and helps a lot with pacing.

I'm also a huge nerd who wants to be an editor when she grows up, so I know I'm totally in the minority. (Ask me how I feel about the Oxford comma. Go ahead.)


This.

The semi-colon has been a rather useful tool for me. As I am only young, it's helped me to remove the tiring repetition of the word "because", and replace it with some more vibrant punctuation. It really adds a flare to my writing, in my opinion.
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8 Jan 2017 21:29 8 Jan 2017 21:30
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Phoenix The Rising Limits

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@lady horatio I can get behind this opinion. However, I think its use has much more to do with one's writing style than actual structure, comprehension, and flow. If you want it to flow a certain way, that's style, not the punctuation, necessarily. We choose which punctuation marks to use for a certain affect. If you want it to flow more than full-stop, then you use a semi-colon. If you want it to be it's own complete thought, you use the full-stop instead of the semi-colon.

So, at the end, I believe it's all about personal choice and what style/feel you're attempting to accomplish. I, personally, prefer shorter sentences to longer ones as my own reading comprehension is lacking. I rely so much on punctuation to interpret the words, themselves, sometimes. So keeping thoughts short/concise helps me comprehend my own work as well as others.

As for the Oxford Comma (good segue, by the way), I fu(king love that b!tch. She is my best friend. It goes with what I said above: I need the punctuation to clearly define the words for me. Lacking that comma just confuses me and I have to actively remember that that last item of the list is also part of the list and not an addition or clarification of the word/phrase immediately prior.

So I will always use it when I can, without exception. But, as with the semi-colon, the Oxford Comma is almost entirely subjective and of personal taste. I just cringe a little when I see that it could have been used. But I'm just a dumb-dumb who needed to be in a special reading class in 3rd grade. xP
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8 Jan 2017 21:35
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lady horatio

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But I'm just a dumb-dumb who needed to be in a special reading class in 3rd grade. xP


Hey, hey! There is no shame here in the Grammar Bunker. :)
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9 Jan 2017 22:40 9 Jan 2017 23:05
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pugbutter the Anti-Moe

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I've met a lot of people who are intimidated by the Advanced section of the forums. This thread would be a good PSA to those people: no one is perfect, especially those who pretend to be.
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10 Jan 2017 0:53
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Gowi Exponentially Incessantly Pedantic

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Yes, comma splices are errors in English. I don't care what Oxford says, or whoever it was that started this terrible "comma splices are a stylistic choice!" meme. Fight me.

Are you ready to lose, though?
10 Jan 2017 0:54 10 Jan 2017 0:57
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Gowi Exponentially Incessantly Pedantic

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Anyway, my favorite thing to use alternatively to the semicolon is probably the almighty EM DASH.

In my experience it has been pretty much invaluable to me in terms of stylistic variety and fluid movements of writing. Much like the semicolon it has a variety of uses in terms of style (and technical objectivity) including dialogue, action, and narrative.
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10 Jan 2017 1:51
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Phoenix The Rising Limits

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@pugbutter Using an Oxford Comma is not an instance of a comma splice, those are two very different things (from my understanding). Comma splicing is inserting a comma where one shouldn't be: there's no grammatical reason for it to be there; it is used instead of a semi-colon; it is used instead of a full-stop.

An Oxford Comma has a purpose, though, whether you choose to utilize it or not, it is up to the individual.

And what was the correct homophone for "ease" in that example?
...I'm so confused. My only guess would be "eke." But those are hardly (not) homophones.
10 Jan 2017 2:12
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pugbutter the Anti-Moe

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?

None of the examples in my post are Oxford commas, so I don't see the point in arguing that.
10 Jan 2017 2:54
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Phoenix The Rising Limits

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Haha! Sorry, my bad. When you referenced Oxford my mind immediately went to Oxford comma since I was talking about it before.

And I realize how harsh my post sound now. So I apologize.
11 Jan 2017 17:01 11 Jan 2017 21:03
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shylarah the crazy one

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@lady horatio Right, I just followed you here from your profile because of your status, and I am very happy I did. First off! I have an opinion on the Oxford Comma. I am in favor (and I do have a reason), though I understand like honor/honour both ways are acceptable. Secondly, @Phoenix@Vilageidiotx@Wade Wilson I am a huge fan of the semicolon. I am the one who first proposed the dare of using 100 (might've been 500) of them in one's NaNo novel. I recently took a writing class, and the lady who led it -- a published author, I should mention, though not a big name by any means -- said that she knew more than one editor who says the semicolon is dead. Apparently either periods or commas are considered acceptable replacements. I've found very few places where a comma would be okay, and two separate sentences or the insertion of a word or two to connect the sentences never feels right particularly as I am very picky about the flow of text. Separate sentences often feel choppy and stilted, and if I wanted those extra words I would have used them in the first place. I will agree that semicolons can seem a bit stuffy and pompous, but when used /well/ I feel they add flair and elegance. There really is no way to precisely replace them; nothing else has the same feel. <3

My biggest issue is comma indecision. I pause here, but how /much/ do I pause? Is it a matter of phrasing, or is it a grammatical necessity? Is it grammatically incorrect to insert a comma even though I want the reader to pause? I also tend to use a lot of ellipses to indicate silences or hesitations in dialogue, though very rarely in narration. I do use the dash (and parentheticals!) a good bit, but usually it's in either dialogue or when I write as if I or the narrator is speaking.

AND RIGHT THERE! That's something that always troubled me. What do you do if you're describing two instances with one word, but they have different conjugations? I am speaking, the narrator is speaking. So I/the narrator is speaking? But then I is speaking, and I is NOT speaking like that! Then again, if the narrator am speaking, the narrator am having problems too. WHAT DO?!

@Gowi I seem to remember that a lot of people mistakenly use a hypen - instead of a dash --. Granted, without autocorrect/autoformatting or knowing the special characters the -- has a tiny break, but that's the one that's correct, I think. But there's some things about it I don't remember. I think it's a space on either side, if it's in the middle of something, and if it's at the beginning or the end (such as if someone is cut off when speaking) there's no space. But that /might/ be a slightly longer dash than the em dash? *frowning* Anyone remember? When it comes to dashes versus semicolons, my opinion is that the dash has a faster, more haphazard feel to it, while the semicolon is a very deliberate pause and indicates something more complete than marked by a comma. So I mentally hear a dash as less of a pause, instead of more as Lady Horatio mentioned.

Another thing I do is start sentences with a conjunction. No, it's not technically correct. But I have always felt that it can indicate a connection to the preceding sentence, an additional thought or a contrasting idea. When I write as if talking -- forum posts are the biggest example -- I tend to be very all-over-the-place. My brain moves too fast, and I don't organize my thoughts well.

As an aside, I do tend to pick up memetic mutations and then employ them freely. The best part of knowing the rules is the freedom to deliberately break them for effect. <3 Additionally, I think those on this thread might enjoy various humorous grammar books. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynn Truss was the first one I ever encountered, though I know there's more of them.
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12 Jan 2017 11:49
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NuttsnBolts Nutter by Name / Nutter by Nature

Member Seen 20 Jan 2017 19:37

Found this rather interesting since pretty much everyone here uses dialogue.

Rules to Format Dialogue
Source: [link]

1. Enclose the spoken words with double quotation marks.

“I love it when that happens.”

Note: The British use single quotation marks.

2. Dialogue tags (the he asked/she said portions) stay outside the quotes and get separated by a comma.

Sam said, “I’ll never do that again.”

“Don’t be a sissy,” said Bill. “Let’s get back in line and ride this beast again.”


Note: When dialogue ends in a question or exclamation mark, tags that follow start in lower case.

“What’s new?” she asked.


3. Actions that occur before or after the dialogue go in a separate sentence. For example, If Cindi screamed and then spoke, you write it this way:

Cindi screamed. “Oh my God!”


On the other hand, if Cindi screamed out the words, use a comma instead of a period (so that it’s all part of the same sentence).

Cindi screamed, “Oh my God!”


4. Punctuation goes inside the quotes.

Mary covered her mouth. “Oh no!” She looked like she had seen a vampire. “Did you see that?”


Note: If the dialogue ends with an ellipsis, do not add a comma or any other punctuation.

She stared at the dark horizon. “I guess you’ll go back to running your company and I will…” her voice drifted off.


5. If you have to quote something within the dialogue, use single quotation marks. (Brits reverse the use of double and single quotes.)

Bill laughed and pointed at him. “When that ghost jumped out and said, ‘Boo!’ you screamed like a little girl.”


6. Start a new paragraph every time you change speakers. If the speaker performs actions linked to the dialogue, keep everything in the same paragraph. Why? Readers easily lose track of which character is speaking. A new paragraph helps readers by signalling a change.

Note: Indent the first line of these paragraphs, just like all other paragraphs.
Couldn't get this to work with the post layout, and not many people do it here. This is more for manuscripts on pages.

“Did he hit you?” Deanna asked, looking at the cut and bruises on Laura’s face.

“No. I hurt myself.” Her brain scrambled to invent a story. “I, umm, fell.”

“That bastard!”

“No. You don’t understand. It was my fault.”

Deanna pointed her finger at Laura. “Battered women always say that.” She shook her head. “Please come with me. I don’t think you should be here when he comes back.”


7. If an action interrupts a sentence in the dialogue, use lower case on the first letter of the second fragment.

“I know,” he lowered his voice to a whisper, “what you said.”


8. If the same speaker talks long enough to require a new paragraph, place opening quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph. However, closing quotation marks are placed only at the end of the final paragraph.

Tom explained the details. “The thread is a remarkable silk-wool blend, a new fabric named Allurotique. Some people compare it to the most expensive commercially available silk, Pashmina Silk; but that comparison is off base. Pashmina silk is made by weaving wool from pashmina goats with a silk produced by worms that eat only mulberry leaves.

“Allurotique is blended, not woven. And it’s made from the most expensive silk and a exotic wool spun into a fabric with extraordinary qualities.

“The silk in Allurotique is muga silk, which has a natural shimmering gold color. It absorbs water better than other silks, making it more comfortable to wear. It’s has a number of other nifty features: it’s more durable than other silks, it’s almost impossible to stain and it gets shinier with wear.

“The wool in Allurotique is harvested from vicuñas, a South American animal related to llamas. Vicuña wool is softer, lighter and warmer than any other wool in the world. Since the animals can only be sheared once every three years, it’s rare and outlandishly expensive.”
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12 Jan 2017 22:04
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shylarah the crazy one

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@NuttsnBolts Indeed! Though I sometimes fudge if I have speaker 1, speaker 2, action of speaker 2, followed by action of speaker 1 -- action-action doesn't require a line break, and then if speaker 2 talks again I've already established that the narrative indicates 2 by their action, so a line break there doesn't make sense.

However, when you use punctuation for quotes and phrases, it gets tricky (and for a few other things as well). And when I say "tricky", I mean that it's terribly confusing. I was taught that ellipses with four dots (actually an ellipsis and then a period) should be used if that's the final punctuation in a sentence. To me, that indicates that I can go ellipsis-endingpunctuation, because what if it's excited? What if...I'm trailing off...? These I tend to use more in dialogue, as I employ punctuation there to indicate manner of speaking and timing. However, it would make sense if that ending period can be some other ending marking. I've also been taught that if you are quoting a word or phrase, you may need to put punctuation outside the quotes. This is not dialogue, and the rules are a bit different. I was taught the same for parentheticals -- in fact (as above) ofttimes ending punctuation goes after the ending parenthesis. But if the comment is a query, or excited (because did you really expect me to be calm?) an exclamation point or question mark is used to show this. And then you get to the end of a sentence, and now you have a concluding punctuation mark inside the parenthesis, and I'm pretty sure you don't add concluding punctuation to the sentence itself afterwards, because the one on the inside just has to pull double duty. So what the heck do you do when you need a comma after the main sentence portion but there's a punctuation mark in the parenthetical? Do you fudge (and I hate to do it!), or do you just hope people can hear the pause without a marker?

I am very happy to see that the multiple paragraph rule is on here. I learned about that much later, and from books not school, and I happen to love it.

BY THE WAY. @lady horatio@Phoenix@Gowi! As you all seem to know about both semicolon and Oxford comma, have you heard of *drumroll* the OXFORD SEMICOLON?! ...Okay, okay, I'm not certain that's what it's called, but it'd make sense!
13 Jan 2017 0:03
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Phoenix The Rising Limits

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@shylarah
Before I go off an google it, here's what I learned in one of my college English classes:

Ellipses (...) are used to:
1. Indicate a break in a quote or reference.
Ex. "I don't...even care."
Here, there was more dialogue between "don't" and "even." For whatever reason, it was left out and the main portion, the most important portion, or the needed portion of the dialogue was kept in.

2. Indicate a lapse of time.
Ex. The next year wouldn't be so different....
Here, there is a sense that, after this sentence, there is a fast forwarding (or reversal, when applicable) of time.

The purpose of the Ellipse followed by a Period is used when the omission or time skip occurs at the end of the sentence.

This link goes into greater detail of the other uses of the Ellipse (suspense, breaking of thought, etc.)

So, I guess I do know what the Oxford Semicolon is. I learned it in the same class but was never told the colloquialism.
It's the semicolon used in a list of items where the individual items have commas.
Ex. The following are arriving: John, a boy; Alex, a girl; Ashley, a boy.

I'm not entirely sure if this is correct, though. >.>
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13 Jan 2017 0:35
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shylarah the crazy one

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@Phoenix Yeah, this seems right to me. ^.^

I totally made up the name for the Oxford semicolon. I figure if the Oxford comma is debated and now it's a semicolon list, it's the Oxford semicolon. ^.^;;
20 Jan 2017 6:26
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pugbutter the Anti-Moe

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Are you ready to lose, though?


Hey babe I'm still waiting for this just FYI
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