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Thread: I need the opinion of someone with a strong competency for English.

  1. #1 I need the opinion of someone with a strong competency for English. 
    Forum Sophomore somfooleishfool's Avatar
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    I have decided I would like to get better at formal writing and that It is time to understand the exact do's and do not's of commas for my country, New Zealand, but I can not find any set rules.

    I am sick of those times of uncertainty of whether a comma is needed or not. I want to learn the exact, advanced, rules for when a comma is needed; and when one is not needed. The same for semicolons, clearly, would be helpful too.

    I hate relying on nothing but reading the sentence in my head and judging what punctuation is needed based on how long of a pause I used. This is ineffective and I need to learn rules.


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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    I have a strong cornpotency.

    I also have the ability to Google .


    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  4. #3  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post
    I hate relying on nothing but reading the sentence in my head and judging what punctuation is needed based on how long of a pause I used. This is ineffective and I need to learn rules.
    I somewhat disagree. I think relyiing on your judgment often results in a better sentence than following rules. Kalster's link gives one set of rules, but there are different rules for American English and British English, and different rules again for journalism and fictional prose. The serial comma, for instance, is standard American but omitting it is standard British. In my opinion you should read your sentence and decide for yourself if a serial comma helps or hinders the reader's understanding in a particular case.

    How about parenthetical phrases? This example is from Kalster's link and in my opinion it is awkward:

    Calhoun's ambition, to become a goalie in professional soccer, is within his reach.

    I think the commas are unnecessary:

    Calhoun's ambition to become a goalie in professional soccer is within his reach.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Sophomore somfooleishfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    I have a strong cornpotency.

    I also have the ability to Google .
    Thank you, smartass.

    Funnily enough I found this website while I was searching but I didn't recognise the URL as a New Zealand URL. Turns out Its local to my city.

    eye are an cleva kollege stoodint
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  6. #5  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    I have a strong cornpotency.

    I also have the ability to Google .
    Thank you, smartass.

    Funnily enough I found this website while I was searching but I didn't recognise the URL as a New Zealand URL. Turns out Its local to my city.

    eye are an cleva kollege stoodint
    Np. If it is a New Zealand site (which was totally on purpose ), then, as Bunbury suggested, you would get the rules that apply to your particular brand of English. Happy learning. I am quite happy inserting them whenever I feel they are needed though.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  7. #6  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
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    A panda eats shoots and leaves.
    A panda eats, shoots, and leaves.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Sophomore somfooleishfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post
    I hate relying on nothing but reading the sentence in my head and judging what punctuation is needed based on how long of a pause I used. This is ineffective and I need to learn rules.
    I somewhat disagree. I think relyiing on your judgment often results in a better sentence than following rules. Kalster's link gives one set of rules, but there are different rules for American English and British English, and different rules again for journalism and fictional prose. The serial comma, for instance, is standard American but omitting it is standard British. In my opinion you should read your sentence and decide for yourself if a serial comma helps or hinders the reader's understanding in a particular case.

    How about parenthetical phrases? This example is from Kalster's link and in my opinion it is awkward:

    Calhoun's ambition, to become a goalie in professional soccer, is within his reach.

    I think the commas are unnecessary:

    Calhoun's ambition to become a goalie in professional soccer is within his reach.
    "Calhoun's ambition to become a goalie in professional soccer is within his reach."
    personally I would use the commas here, but I realize that a lack of commas here does not make it ambiguous so point taken.
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  9. #8  
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    Calhoun's ambition, to become a goalie in professional soccer, is within his reach.

    I think the commas are unnecessary:

    Calhoun's ambition to become a goalie in professional soccer is within his reach.
    The sentence without the commas does not carry exactly the same implications or meanings: with the commas we are talking about Calhoun's successful approach to his one ambition, the focus on the status of success; without the commas there is an implication of one among multiple or serial ambitions approached, the focus on which one.
    Last edited by iceaura; August 4th, 2011 at 02:31 AM.
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  10. #9  
    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    A panda eats shoots and leaves.
    A panda eats, shoots, and leaves.
    Two good reasons not to serve pandas in your restaraunt.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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  11. #10  
    Forum Ph.D.
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    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    A panda eats shoots and leaves.
    A panda eats, shoots, and leaves.
    Two good reasons not to serve pandas in your restaraunt.
    Prince has great recipe for panda! Also works for rat or fish equally well, no difference!
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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