The two comma examples involving the treasure chest are "bass ackward!"
I believe "travelled" -- at least in the USA -- is spelled "traveled."
Please shut up.
Nice submission, DoD:
This comment has nothing to do with punctuation. It has to do with your last line about using a spell checker. I find that too many people use a spell checker as a surrogate brain. They (spell checkers) are useful for finding the gaffs in a single word, e.g. "occassional" but almost totally useless otherwise. The following sentence will pass most, if not all, spell check software: "Jim and Jane moved into they're new house and there now finally settled in their." (Spit, I had to try very hard to type that in wrong, but it's just an example.)
I agree; a spell-checker can be an ambiguous aid to writers, especially when using vernacular terms in a sentance, but it's also a handy guide for correct use of punctuation - and as i'm from England; i reserve the right to use the correct spelling of travelled:)
You did not use a spell checker on your reply (grin).
Your fingers appear to be as dyslexic as mine, swapping around
vowels as I try to touch type around my foggy brain. ("Sentance"
vs. "sentence." Did I ge the punctuation right?)
As far as the comment about "travelling" was concerned,
the anal-retentive person who made that comment should
get a life. Reasonable persons on both sides of the Atlantic recognise
both spellings, and are not bothered by the other spelling,
My spell checkers recognize (recognise?) both as valid.
I could have told you had you asked, that you will be wasting your time teaching anything today.
That's from an ex-teacher who had his fair share of teaching the "youth of today".
Considering all the "English" stuff that is bombarding us from every direction and the willingness of many morons to espouse anything that passes as "communication" as valid English, is it any wonder that Jackass English exist?
Just look at the responses you've had so far regarding your article.
I rest my case and take to drinking.
Why oh why doesn't anyone know the difference between YOU ARE and YOUR and You're.?
You are or You're beautiful as opposed to Your beautiful.
Your is the word that says something belongs to you..ie..your hat, your car, your bad spelling.
I see this basic mistake daily, and it sickens me to the very core of my being.
A valiant effort, but probably doomed to failure. Those who need it won't read it, and those who read it (maybe) won't need it! Still, it needs to be said, and often.
Next, we need a compulsory guide on dialogue punctuation . . .
Clear, concise and to the point. I'll definitely recommend it to my writers. :)
"The treasure chest contained, three bottles of rum, some gold jewellery and five thousand pounds of silver. [RIGHT"???
The thoughtful comments so far are fine: I can agree with most of them. (That's big of me, isn't it?)
Two points: first, punctuation is a set of conventions, not rules. People started using it in the renaissance so stuff was easier to read out loud and the reader knew when to pause, take a breath, whatever. It was so useful that the marks became more and widely used, and when printing arrived - liftoff.
Fine. Then the grammarians picked up on the fact, felt all left out, and started inventing rules. A lot of the language you've used, (accurately), to describe conventional punctuation usage is theirs. Of course, the grammarians, being eighteenth century English clergymen, (mostly), used Latin words, Latin assumptions, etc., and tried to force the English language into shapes it didn't really like.
So the bottom line is: sure, use the conventions, but not because they're rules. Use punctuation marks for the reason they were invented: that is, to make what you write clear for your reader. If that means an extra comma sometimes, fine. If it means deciding you're going to use a semi-colon instead of a comma, or instead of a full stop (period), then fine too. It's your tool, not a tablet of stone on Mt. Sinai. Take liberties when you feel you need to.
Second point: one of the commentators mentioned dialogue. At the risk of sounding self-serving, I wrote a 'how to' on dialogue back in July. It attracted some comments, some critical, some not. Anyone who wants to read it and comment, maybe compare these two pieces, feel free. Dreams of Desire and I share some of the same views.
My main point about dialogue was simple: throw away the rule book. If punctuation is designed to help your reader hear/feel what you're saying, then punctuation in written dialogue is to help the reader hear and sense HOW the character is saying whatever he's saying. People don't talk in sentences, and punctuation conventions won't work if you force them into a caharacter's mouth.With dialogue it's the ear that matters. Contractions, 'ungrammatical' constructions, etc: Very often you need to use punctuation marks in a radical way if you want the character's voice to make it into the reader's head.
OK, that's enough of that.Thanks for writing what you did. Depressingly, the "pissing in the wind" commentator is probably right, but this is the internet after all, and you never know who might read you next.
This story has been selected for the New Story Reviews in the Author's Hangout of Lit Forums. Well Done!
I hope to mail to you before Christmas a current snapshot of my dog Ben. (wrong)
Its actually, I hope to mail to you a current snapshot of my dog Ben before Christmas. (right)
Your intentions are laudable, no doubt, but you do realize that you are probably trying to teach the unteachables for the most part. I grew up studying the Queen's English in my high school, where the teachers spent a lot of time teaching us the grammar (I used Wren and Martin for studying grammar). It was drilled into us that English was an important language, the International language of communication, and we must have reasonable mastery of it to communicate in a proper manner. Nowadays, at least in the American schools, it is one of the hated subjects (along with Math and Science, as well as Civics), and we find even the so-called top journalists butchering phrases, words and spellings in their writings. The poor standard of English is also particularly rampant in our Universities, in the Engineering school where I teach. So I am not surprised to see the bad grammar and syntax on this forum at all. As many before me have commented on your informative piece, it is probably not going to make much difference to those who are beyond learning, or who will perhaps take deliberate pride in their poor language skills. My sister is a linguist, and we argue about this all the time. She claims that the lack of grammatical correctness is proof that language constantly evolves, and we have to accept such "changes." I disagree, because as educated folks, we have a responsibility to demonstrate our evolution from the illiterate cavemen to a civilized society. To take pride in the regressive attitudes and actions is not something to celebrate. But I will probably be criticized for this opinion in this forum anyway. Nonetheless, you have done the right thing. If people want to learn, they have an opportunuty. If not, so be it.
"The treasure chest contained three bottles of rum, some gold jewellery and five thousand pounds of silver. [WRONG]
The treasure chest contained, three bottles of rum, some gold jewellery and five thousand pounds of silver. [RIGHT"
Obviously written by a Cal State Poly drop out.
And "to", "too" and "two" as well!
Dreams of Desire:
I have always admitted that in grammar and punctuation I am among the worlds worst. In conversations with other authors I find it t'aint necessarily so. It seems that the rules that apply in Kansas don't apply in Oregon. What is correct in New York is not correct in Montana. We seem to have a most horrible example of left hand, right hand in that no one is truly in charge of, or arbiter of, the American version of the English Language. The only suggestion I can offer is this; Do it the way you were taught. If someone from a different background objects; tell them to politely FUCK OFF. Thank You. Ronnie W.
How about the proper usage of there, their, and they're?
"The book is over there."
"They're coming for a visit."
"The party is at their house."
Just a little something that tends to drive me crazy when reading. Thanks for letting me vent!
To begin with, you are a Brit, and so am I. We know that AmE and BrE have some differences, without even allowing for regional dialect and so on. Even so, there is a concept on both sides of the Atlantic of what constitutes the 'standard', and each accepts that the other is acceptable within its own dialect. Most of what you say makes sense and causes me to nod sagely in agreement, but there are a few places where I would take issue. You have made some typing errors, as we all do. But the first duty of a writer to his readers is to check his work; it is a simple matter of courtesy. In BrE, for example, we put a full stop [period] at the end of an abbreviated word only when it is cut short internally, but not when it begins with the first letter of the full word and ends with the last. Thus, we write 'Dr', rather than 'Dr.' as the Americans do, but 'Prof.' because it cuts the word off before the end. So it is with 'etc.'. Coming at the end of your sentence, it needs two full stops - one for the abbreviation, and a second for the end of the sentence.
There are other [several] instances of erroneous grammar and punctuation in your piece. Most of them are not serious, except that they are in the context of telling people what's right and what isn't. I would be happy to point these out if you request it. For example, "cat's paw" you have all wrong. "Ozimandias" was written in 1818, and Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1819, so there is no way you can call it a Victorian poem. Shelley died in 1822, which hardly ranks him as a Victorian poet.
As to your other critics, "Good article but small" gets the bit about "my dog Ben" totally wrong, and your version is correct. Somebody points out that "we have to accept changes" - quite right in principal, but only regarding changes which add to the language; we ought to resist changes which detract from it and which tend to blur meanings by offering words and phrases which no longer uniquely convey a particular concept. Take, for example,the word "aggravate", which originally meant to make a bad situation worse [Don't walk in the rain - you will only aggravate your 'flu], but now is used to mean "annoy" or "irritate" as well [My little brother is so aggravating]. The contribution from "Er" demanding a comma after "contained" is absurd. You have a transitive verb with a direct object. Would "Er" write "I told, him"? I hope not. As for "Garbage", I would suggest he goes back to school to learn how to overcome the problem of the supreme arrogance of the sublimely ignorant.
Keep on keeping on. I will send you a private e-mail in case you wish to reply and take up a dialogue. I don't wish to publish my address here, but I think my comments may be of interest to the general reader.
Yours with very best wishes,
"The contribution from "Er" demanding a comma after "contained" is absurd. You have a transitive verb with a direct object. Would "Er" write "I told, him"? I hope not."
I'm not demanding that! I am pointing out the mistake in the original article! The original article states that "The treasure chest contained, three bottles of rum, some gold jewellery and five thousand pounds of silver." is correct.
Of course it's wrong.
Speaking of teaching the unteachable, or pissing against the wind, I recommend reading: “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” by Lynne Truss. I found it very entertaining, and almost without noticing, I was learning new rules! Despite the book’s title, the actual approach is not so ‘intolerant’. It actually seems to shift between the descriptive and the normative approaches. Among other things, the book speaks about the similarity between breathing and the location of punctuation marks. That made me breath slightly easier...
Thank you for your guidance. Signed: a constant student, who could use all available didactic tools.
Oddly enough, Koklore, Lynne Truss is making an appearance on a UK radio station (5-Live!) tomorrow afternoon:) Her excellent book was available as a free cd in 'The Times' newspaper last month and i can tell you her voice is as sexy as her mind is sharp...I'd recommend Eats, shoots and leaves' to anyone with a sense of humour who wants to learn more or simply use as a handy reference for better writing.
As one of the Australian commenters stated, trying to teach grammar to the writers of this archive is like pissing into the wind. How many "How to" submissions cover the your/you're, its/it's problem. Several of the commenters make these mistakes. And the difference between American Standard English and British Standard English is great. But the reason for my comment: Victoria was born in 1819, and became queen in 1837. I would think a Brit would have this straight.
The one standard I would suggest is the one that another commenter made: if the punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc, makes it difficult for the reader to read or understand the submission, i.e. when he has to constantly mentally correct the spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc., then there is a problem with the submission.
Many grammar rules are simple pedantry (if this was not a word, it is now!) "To boldly go" is better English than "to go boldly." At least for sci-fi. Split infinitives are ok in English, but not in Romance languages. And remember, the rules against contractions, especially "ain't" and combinations such as "doff" and "don" are elitist. The cockneys speak that way, as well as in rhyming slang, so this has got to be bad English, right? Same in the U.S. If a grammar/spelling/punctuation is used by Blacks, it is by definition bad English, even it it is more correct than applying Romance grammatical rules to a Germanic language
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