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Gehanna
04-13-2005, 11:42 PM
I haven't a clue about proper use of punctuation beyond the ., ?, !, "", and my obvious use of the ,.

Would someone please help me relearn punctuation including the rules of use?

I am embarrassed to admit that I don't know what to do with ; and worse still is that I am an abuser of ,.


Sincerely,
Gehanna

Chacounne
04-14-2005, 04:15 AM
Can I get in on those lessons? I'm pretty good at spelling but sometimes I really wonder about my punctuation.

Hope there's help for us :)
Chacounne

trumancoyote
04-14-2005, 04:57 AM
You both should go out and buy Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. It's hilarious, dangerously popular, and very thorough.

It should have most of what you need to know.

dragonjax
04-14-2005, 05:06 AM
Actually, you should keep in mind that Eats, Shoots & Leaves is all about British grammar and punctuation; if you're American, some of the rules will be incorrect.

I'm a huge fan of the Gregg Reference Manual, which I find to be written in, pardon me, plain English, with plenty of examples to back up the rules.

For a more, er, Goth approach to punctuation, you could try Karen Elizabeth Gordon's The Well-Tempered Sentence.

If you have specific questions, I'd be really happy to help. :) I'm a copy chief by day.

Gehanna
04-14-2005, 06:22 AM
Hellloooo dragonjax!

My commas are out of control. They are so bad ... (suddenly voices from the crowd yell out)..."How bad are they!?!" ..... They are so bad that if you ran an EEG on me at night, commas would replace my spindles and K-complexes.

Har har!

Ok, ok.. I know that was awful but Johnny Carson made me do it. *smirk*

*Bows head in honor of Johnny* the greatest talk show host EVER!! May he rest in peace. *sniff* *sniff*

Ummm... dammit. I forgot which sentence it was that I wanted to seek your punctual advice about. This is what I get for telling bad jokes.

Never mind for now I guess *cheesy grin*

Sincerely,
Gehanna - the Comma Queen

dragonjax
04-14-2005, 06:29 AM
Gehanna, when you find that sentence, post away! Either here or PM. Happy to help!

(Say, wasn't this a song by Culture Club back in the 1980s? "Comma Commelion"?)

:scared:

(And this is why I can't quit my day job. The jokes just don't get any better than that.)

Sonya
04-14-2005, 06:33 AM
When I asked the same question in a writer's group a few years ago, I had several published freelance writers and novelists tell me to get a copy of Strunk and White The Elements of Style.

It's inexpensive-five or six dollars-and less than a hundred pages.

Hope this helps,

Sonya

Gehanna
04-14-2005, 06:51 AM
Hahaha!!!

Ok here are the two final sentences from one of my articles:

"In addition to teaching emotional intelligence, as it relates to self awareness, instruction on positive regard and acknowledgment of others must be included. After all, what good is self without others?"

My questions are:
Is the punctuation correct?
Is it tacky to start a sentence with the words "After all" ?
Do you have any general suggestions?

Sincerely,
Gehanna

Hermit
04-14-2005, 07:15 AM
What does any of this have to do with mentoring?

Perhaps a Mod can move your original post to a more appropriate section.

dragonjax
04-14-2005, 07:18 AM
Hahaha!!!

Ok here are the two final sentences from one of my articles:

"In addition to teaching emotional intelligence, as it relates to self awareness, instruction on positive regard and acknowledgment of others must be included. After all, what good is self without others?"

My questions are:
Is the punctuation correct?
Is it tacky to start a sentence with the words "After all" ?
Do you have any general suggestions?

Sincerely,
Gehanna

Actually, I think the "After all" sentence is quite clever. And there's no reason why you should not begin the sentence that way. As for the previous sentence, I tightened it a bit.

"Along with emotional intelligence as it relates to self-awareness, positive regard for and acknowledgment of others must be taught. After all, what good is self without others?"

Does this work for you? If you have questions, please ask. (I started writing a lengthy explanation, but I thought that might be overkill.)

Gehanna
04-14-2005, 07:26 AM
That's fantastic! It reads much better than before.

Thank You very much dragonjax. :)

Sincerely,
Gehanna

William Haskins
04-14-2005, 07:35 AM
! one link every writer should have bookmarked !

http://bartleby.com/

spend some time there and you'll be amazed. but for now, here's page one of the elements of style.

http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk1.html

seriously, spend some time at this site.

seriously.























i'm serious.

William Haskins
04-14-2005, 07:36 AM
better yet, the contents (linked) of EoS

http://www.bartleby.com/141/

katiemac
04-14-2005, 08:13 AM
Gehanna,

Since your question has generated quite a few replies here, I'm going to keep this thread as is in the mentoring forum, especially since you requested help from one individual.

However, if you feel you aren't getting the response you would like, I'll see what I can do about switching this thread onto another board.

- Katie

BTW, the Chicago Manual of Style may help you as well. There are quite a few AW members who are knowledgable in grammar. I'll see if I can't steer a couple this way to give you some more suggestions.

JennaGlatzer
04-14-2005, 08:51 AM
Hermit, she's asking to be mentored about punctuation issues. What do you find wrong with that?

Medievalist
04-14-2005, 09:08 AM
Strunk and White is very helpful, and so is Chicago manual.

However, both of them are style guides; that is, they are a vastly reduced subset of grammar and usage, and are designed to emphasize particular choices among several correct possible choices.

Get an undergraduate grammar and usage manual--I'm fond of those by Diana Hacker, but there are lots to choose from, and they're all pretty much the same in terms of contents. They differ in terms of presentation, and structure. They're actually very useful, designed to be easy to navigate and find answers to questions that occur in medias res, so to speak. Any community college will likely have several associated with English composition classes, and you can a used copy--or just go to Amazon or your local bookstore.

Gehanna
04-14-2005, 03:06 PM
Many thanks to everyone who responded. If anything, I feel that I received an abundance of help. I plan to check out the links and books recommended by all.

I am off to the hospital today. A place where words become initials and trying to discern whatever those squiggly lines are that doctors write is worse than trying to read Egyptian Hieroglyphics!

Many Regards,
Gehanna

dragonjax
04-14-2005, 03:15 PM
Personally, I've never taken a shine to S&W's Elements of Style. And while the Chicago Manual of Style is the bible of publishing, it may not be the best source for someone looking for a tutorial. I still recommend Gregg Reference Manual first and foremost. Anyway, I'm glad my edit worked for you.

:welcome:

firehorse
04-14-2005, 03:38 PM
Truss actually discusses British, American and Canadian punctuation. I recommend it for everyone, even those whose use of punctuation is perfect.

I'm pretty good with punctuation (all three styles), though I sometimes abuse commas. I occasionally work as a proofreader, so if you'd like me to take a look at your story, I'd be glad to give you some feedback.

Semi-colons are my specialty. How weird would that sentence sound to anyone other than a writer? ;)

dragonjax
04-14-2005, 04:28 PM
Semi-colons are my specialty. How weird would that sentence sound to anyone other than a writer? ;)
Better than saying you are spastic for colons... :)

dragonjax
04-14-2005, 04:35 PM
Truss actually discusses British, American and Canadian punctuation. I recommend it for everyone, even those whose use of punctuation is perfect.
Apologies -- I should have said that Truss is a UK author, and thus, UK punctuation is to be expected throughout. The preface makes this very, very clear. It's a fun book, I'll give you that, and worth the read. But I still don't think it's a good primer for American grammar. My humble opinion, of course--like I mentioned previously, I also can't stand Elements of Style, so I probably have to hand in my card to the union and shut the door behind me...

katiemac
04-14-2005, 06:58 PM
Here's the link (http://eatsshootsandleaves.com/) for Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I stumbled upon it a couple of weeks ago. There's a nice little punctuation game to play.

Medievalist's right about the Chicago Manual being publishing-based. However, there is a chapter devoted to punctuation and grammar, which may be useful to look over (say, in the library or your bookstore) to get your brain working in that direction again before you hit into the more complex how-to's.

BlueTexas
04-14-2005, 08:16 PM
I have to echo William on Barteby's. I haven't found a better reference.

jdkiggins
04-14-2005, 10:15 PM
Gehanna,

There have been some great answers here. I have one more suggestion for you.

There is a soft cover book entitled, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. The Mysteries of Grammar and Punctuation Revealed, by Jane Straus.

Here's the link to the website where you can read about the book and a link to purchase if you're interested.
http://www.grammarbook.com/

It's a wonderful handy tool to keep in your reference books. It's one of many I have handy when my brain goes into the "dead zone." :)

Good luck.
Joanne

GHF65
05-03-2005, 05:14 PM
I have no desire to downplay Strunk and White--a wonderful, classic source of information on English--but we thoroughly modern English teacher types are totally enamored of Hodges' Harbrace Handbook. The fifteenth edition was released last year. It's not cheap--I believe I paid about $60 for my copy, and that was through a school catalog using a fake purchase order--but worth the price. You'll find the answers to all your punctuation and other grammatical issues in 876 pages miraculously sandwiched between its tiny brown covers. In keeping with the high-tech tenor of our times, he new edition has added goodies like "The Truth About Spell Checkers" and "Citing Internet Sources" using MLA format. :Clap:

You can visit the web site at http://www.harbrace.com (http://www.harbrace.com/).

I'm a volunteer "X-pert" (that's someone who thinks they once knew everything, if only they could remember some of it) on a couple of Q&A websites, and I don't know what I'd do without the Handbook to keep me from having to make up stuff to keep those pleading non-native speakers happy.

Meanwhile, I'm a red-pen carrying member of the Grammar Police, so I'll be happy to answer punctuation or other grammar questions any time.

Joanne

Medievalist
05-03-2005, 06:01 PM
I have no desire to downplay Strunk and White--a wonderful, classic source of information on English--but we thoroughly modern English teacher types are totally enamored of Hodges' Harbrace Handbook. The fifteenth edition was released last year. It's not cheap--I believe I paid about $60 for my copy, and that was through a school catalog using a fake purchase order--but worth the price.

Go to your local community college or other college bookstore near the start of the terms; you'll find used copies at much more affordable prices. And usually the used copies are essentially new <g>/.

Lauri B
05-04-2005, 08:25 PM
Hahaha!!!

Ok here are the two final sentences from one of my articles:

"In addition to teaching emotional intelligence, as it relates to self awareness, instruction on positive regard and acknowledgment of others must be included. After all, what good is self without others?"

My questions are:
Is the punctuation correct?
Is it tacky to start a sentence with the words "After all" ?
Do you have any general suggestions?

Sincerely,
Gehanna

Hi Gehanna,
Um, not to nitpick, but I'd say the punctuation isn't the real problem here. The biggest problem is that your sentence has no subject. Who is doing the teaching? Instruction can't be doing teaching, which is what your sentence implies. And it's always better to use active, rather than passive verbs: someone should be doing something rather than having something being done to something or someone else.

What about, "Educators must include instruction on positive regard and acknowledgment of others in addition to teaching their students about emotional intelligence as it relates to self awareness. After all, what is self without others?"

Just a suggestion.

Gehanna
05-04-2005, 09:32 PM
I see your point Nomad. In fact, I took your point back to the entire article I wrote and it became even more obvious.

The articles I write are typically 500 words or less. I see this as a good thing considering I am writing for internet reading.

The problem I have is making myself clear to potential readers. In the past I have been accused of being "vague" or "talking about things that were too deep."

I was like, "How the heck can I be deep and vague at the same time?!?" A friend once became angry with me demanding that I say what I mean! This confused me even more because I do say what I mean when I write.

Now, I think I understand. Your feedback has just revealed what the root of the problem has been all along. These people who were giving me feedback had no editing experience or writing experience and were unable to identify the source of the problem in a manner I could grasp. The situation is similar with my writing. I am expressing my thoughts by writing in a manner that is confusing to others.

I lack the benefit of an editor so this is a recurring issue for me. Now that I am aware of it, perhaps it may help. I don't know if it will or not though because I do not know how to read my own writing through a different set of eyes.

Maybe there are questions I can ask myself that would help. Do you know of any questions I can ask myself each time I write that may help prevent confusion for others?

Your feedback was very much needed and most appreciated.

Sincerely,
Gehanna

Medievalist
05-04-2005, 09:36 PM
I think you need to keep your audience in mind. Who are you writing for ? This is tricky, since generally writers have multiple audiences; at the very least there's "the editor" and then there's "the readers." Focus on the readers. What do they need to know? What's the most important thing for them to take away from the piece?

Medievalist
05-04-2005, 09:43 PM
Educators must include instruction on positive regard and acknowledgment of others in addition to teaching their students about emotional intelligence as it relates to self awareness. After all, what is self without others?

It's been much improved by Nomad, but it could be better still. Look at all those prepositional phrases; they're distancing the subjects from the verbs, causing what your reader described as vagueness. For instance, "acknowledgment of others" has a verb lurking, waiting to be excavated.

Convert those fossil verbs in the noun plus prepositional phrases to active verbs, and assertions.

There's some jargon there too--what is "positive regard"?

Keep in mind too, that we're seeing two sentences out of context; it's easier to deal with paragraphs.

Lauri B
05-04-2005, 09:50 PM
Hi again, Gehanna--don't be hard on yourself! Gee, it was only one sentence, and a good one, at that! Just a little turned around.

I think the best question to ask yourself is, "what is the simplest way I can write this so it still makes sense and doesn't sound like a kid's easy reader?" As far as I'm concerned, active voice (he did, she saw, I threw) is almost always better than passive (the ball was thrown to him by her). I agree with Medievalist--figure out what your readers really need to know, tell it to them as straight as possible, and see where that leads you.

Gehanna
05-04-2005, 10:06 PM
I am going to process the feedback from the both of you in my noggin for a while and then apply it.

'Mac' Max Graham
08-09-2006, 09:14 AM
Many thanks to everyone who responded. If anything, I feel that I received an abundance of help. I plan to check out the links and books recommended by all.

I am off to the hospital today. A place where words become initials and trying to discern whatever those squiggly lines are that doctors write is worse than trying to read Egyptian Hieroglyphics!

Many Regards,
Gehanna


[quote= mac] Engish punctuation is that subject that drove young school boys and girls to distraction. The basic english parse and analysis, that included punctuation, was taught with a length of cane to emphasise the usage of its structure (1940's style).

All of these text books suggested I have never read. So can not comment.
As long as there is a basic understanding of the use and purpose of each punctuation mark, then the structure and presentation of what you are saying is dependant upon your editoring.

All material I have written I have editored at least five times. Each time I have read what was written and asked: did it say what was wanted? Did it say what it wanted too correctly? Are there useless words between commers that can be removed and still improve meaning and structure.

Have read your quotes during your request and found then simple, pertinant and punctuated to enable what you had to say understood.

The golden rule taught to me by the editor of a major newspaper was:
keep it simple, choose your words carefully and it will fall into place and present what it is you are trying to say.[quote]

Patricia
08-09-2006, 01:18 PM
The thing that I’ve found about all of the recommended reading is that you will get something valuable from each one. The combination of the whole will be very helpful.

Someone once told me that writers tend to use commas the way they speak, rather than the mechanical rules of use. Personally, I’ve decided this could be the reason that many of us struggle with them.

Bufty
08-09-2006, 07:15 PM
Good luck, Gehanna. Read it out to yourself, clearly.

This is simplistic but...

If one is struggling for breath before finishing any particular phrase or sentence, either a comma is needed or one needs to consider restructuring that phrase or sentence. A comma is where the reader takes a quick breath (pause) in order to maintain clarity.

But too many commas in a sentence and one runs the risk of a reader losing track of where the sentence is going. Then use a full stop.

I wish you luck.

stephblake24
08-09-2006, 08:08 PM
I hate it when a comma usage error is considered a typo.

J. Weiland
08-12-2006, 06:05 PM
Hahaha!!!

Ok here are the two final sentences from one of my articles:

"In addition to teaching emotional intelligence, as it relates to self awareness, instruction on positive regard and acknowledgment of others must be included. After all, what good is self without others?"

My questions are:
Is the punctuation correct?
Is it tacky to start a sentence with the words "After all" ?
Do you have any general suggestions?

Sincerely,
Gehanna

I think the first sentence could be changed to: "In addition to teaching emotional intelligence as it relates to self awareness, instruction on positive regard and acknowledgement of others must be induced."

I have removed the first comma on the grounds that I believe "emotional intelligence as it relates to self awareness" can be wieved as a Noun-clause; therefore its parts should not be seperated by a comma. The one comma left then merely functions as a comma denoting a pause.

I could be wrong though, as it's been a few years since I took Grammar class.

:)

Jamesaritchie
08-12-2006, 07:28 PM
If you link to Bartlby's, Do not use that version of "The Elements of Style.

That's a the Strunk alone version, it's from 1918, it doesn't have half the material that makes Strunk & White's version so useful, and it will, in fact, screw you up rooyally if you follow everything in it.

Spend the few bucks to get the real thing.

stevejohnson
08-20-2006, 09:14 PM
And I always thought a "X-Pert" was a drip formerly under pressure...

And just to add my two worth to the subject originally under discussion, I've found punctuation to be easy IF you write as you speak. Listen to how the sentences sound when you read them out loud. Even technical manuals sound different when read aloud.