Punctuation Marks and Etc. of the English Language

AWOL: I read it as; In school, diligence is desirable, but some students do not realise that.

I don't like that. In my limited understanding of grammer a comma serves three uses

  • To separate items in a list.
  • To provide pause for breath and perhaps emphasis.
  • To bracket optional additional information that can be omitted.

In the above there is no list, the commas are not for breath and the sentence "In school but some students do not realise that" does not make sense.

I am happy with a single comma or even better none. I like the idea that colon and semi-colon use shows a lack of moral fibre.

In my limited understanding of grammer

Oh!The irony :D

AWOL: Oh!The irony :D

Can't spell either :D

ardly: - To separate items in a list. - To provide pause for breath and perhaps emphasis. - To bracket optional additional information that can be omitted.

All three examples are pauses of lesser or greater extent.

"In the above there is no list, the commas are not for breath and the sentence "In school but some students do not realise that" does not make sense."

I beg to differ(!)

"In school diligence is desirable but some students do not realise that. (sic.)"

'School' and 'diligence' are both nouns

Two nouns may be conjoined with a hyphen... "In school-diligence is desirable (!)"

...Or they may be separated, as a list. "In school, diligence is desirable but some students do not realise it."

I am happy with a single comma or even better none.

Technical English is written using open form punctuation, omitting all that is not essential. English language students are taught the more expressive and pedantic, closed form, punctuation.

msssltd: Technical English is written using open form punctuation, omitting all that is not essential. English language students are taught the more expressive and pedantic, closed form, punctuation.

Then why are the Technical School going students burdened with so many years of English Language Course (in my country, it is for 13 years for non-natives) if they are not required to practice strictly the punctuation rules of the language?

The following excerpt is taken from a recent post of an anonymous poster of some other section of this Forum. Is the line well punctuated in respect of the use of the transitional adverb -- otherwise?

*I'm assuming that 'distance' and 'maxDistance' are 'int', otherwise there would be no need to promote them to 'long'. *

In the punctuation class, we have learnt that the smooth transition from one clause to another clause in a sentence should be made through the use of a punctuated 'transitional adverb.' In this case, the punctuation marks are the semi-colon and comma which are to be placed before and after the transitional adverb (the otherwise). The rule is more than 100 years old, and it is still found in the 'Text Book of English Grammar.'

I am sure that the reviewer of my Technical Journal/Conference paper would alert me to punctuate the above-quoted sentence and in response, I would re-write this way:

I'm assuming that 'distance' and 'maxDistance' are 'int'; otherwise, there would be no need to promote them to 'long'.

GolamMostafa:
In electrical technology, AC means “Alternating Current”; so, there is no need to say “AC Current”; but, almost everybody says “AC Current”.

I think you are falling into a trap. AC is an initialism and they, like acronyms, can be expanded into words. Etcetera cannot be expanded, it is a word. Instead the reader is supposed to replace the word with a continuation of what preceeded it for example;

  • Mon, Tue, Wed, etcetera conveys to the reader Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
  • 2, 4, 6,8, etcetera conveys to the reader the infinite series of positive integers

Etcetera can also be used in a wooly way for example if somebody says “Punctation etcetera”, they probably mean punctuation, grammar and things like that, but the meaning is a bit vague.

There is another use that people accept but which is rather recursive and redundant. For example; “Cats, dogs, etcetera are examples of domestic animals” means “Cats, dogs and domestic animals are examples of domestic animals”.

msssltd: Two nouns may be conjoined with a hyphen... "In school-diligence is desirable (!)"

...Or they may be separated, as a list. "In school, diligence is desirable but some students do not realise it."

I can't make any sense of those sentences if I read them literally. If I read them loosely (mentally omitting the hyphen and the comma) they do make sense.

I know what a school-meal is but school-diligence is strange and you could not write In school-meal is xxxx (I have omitted the word "desirable" as I had more than enough of them in my youth.)

I might concede the value of the comma if the sentence was a follow-on to another - something like In the playground you can have fun, However, in school, diligence is desirable where the purpose is to emphasize the difference between play and school. But that was not the context in which I introduced the sentence.

...R

GolamMostafa: Then why are the Technical School going students burdened with so many years of English Language Course (in my country, it is for 13 years for non-natives) if they are not required to practice strictly the punctuation rules of the language?

I know I wrote the second point in Reply #4 with humour in mind. But there is still a germ of truth in it.

The following excerpt is taken from a recent post of an anonymous poster of some other section of this Forum. Is the line well punctuated in respect of the use of the transitional adverb -- otherwise?

*I'm assuming that 'distance' and 'maxDistance' are 'int', otherwise there would be no need to promote them to 'long'. *

.............

I'm assuming that 'distance' and 'maxDistance' are 'int'; otherwise, there would be no need to promote them to 'long'.

IMHO the original version is easier to understand than your more complex punctuation and in fact the sentence would be completely understandable without any comma or semi-colon.

When I read your punctuated version my reading is interrupted when I reach the comma after "otherwise" - it is only at that point that I become conscious of the semi-colon and then I have to re-read the whole thing in case I have missed something.

A very good test of writing and punctuation is to read the text out loud (obviously this works better for a longer passage where the need to draw breath becomes relevant). If the clauses and sub-clauses (if any) are too complex or if the punctuation is wrong it will be difficult to read through the text with the proper emphasis to convey the meaning clearly to the listener. (But I have no idea whether this is relevant to someone who is not writing in their native language)

...R

Original version with single comma is easier to understand for me also. It is similar to my mother tongue. However, after little googling, I found that it “should” be written exactly as Golam wrote or in two separate sentences (…are ‘int’. Otherwise, there…). The word “should” is written intentionally in quotes because it doesn’t seem like strict rule. All versions are correct? I’m little bit confused.

…and in fact the sentence would be completely understandable without any comma or semi-colon.

What the rules of grammar say?

Budvar10:

…and in fact the sentence would be completely understandable without any comma or semi-colon.

What the rules of grammar say?

If the “rules of grammar” do not reflect how language is used then it is the rules that are wrong. In the exact same way that the rules of physics and chemistry must match what happens in an internal combustion engine or else those rules would be wrong.

In any case this Thread is about punctuation rather than grammar. In school the word “grammar” is often used when trying to teach punctuation.

The purpose of grammar is to explain how language works - sophisticated language existed long before any experts started to try to understand it or to compare different languages. Understanding how language works can be especially useful when helping people with language problems.

Punctuation, on the other hand, is just a series of marks intended to make the written word easier to understand.

The more this Thread continues the more convinced I become of the validity of my second point in Reply #4.

…R

Robin2: If the "rules of grammar" do not reflect how language is used then it is the rules that are wrong...

This one is good for Bart chalkboard quote. I used to use similar when I was a schoolboy. :)

Given below a sentence which has just been taken from an anonymous poster of some other section.

If you describe the project you want to create so that we understand the context of your question it will be much easier to help.

My question/query is: Do we need to put the comma (,) punctuation mark 'at the appropriate place' in order to show the dependent relationship between the two clauses (dependent and independent) of the sentence?

GolamMostafa:
Given below a sentence which has just been taken from an anonymous poster of some other section.

If you describe the project you want to create so that we understand the context of your question it will be much easier to help.

My question/query is: Do we need to put the comma (,) punctuation mark ‘at the appropriate place’ in order to show the dependent relationship between the two clauses (dependent and independent) of the sentence?

Now that you have drawn it to my attention, I think it may be a little better like this
If you describe the project you want to create (so that we understand the context of your question) it will be much easier to help.

Humble apologies for my slackness - however I doubt if there is any confusion as written. If you think it can reasonably be interpreted in a different way to what I intended please let me know.

…R

GolamMostafa: Then why are the Technical School going students burdened with so many years of English Language Course (in my country, it is for 13 years for non-natives) if they are not required to practice strictly the punctuation rules of the language?

Two things that shocked me during my teenage years. i) On leaving secondary education I received extremely good English Language and English Literature exam grades. ii) The following week, on my first day at work, I was told to unlearn the punctuation skills I had put so much effort into learning. The explanation was when writing business and technical English one may presume the reader has a grasp of spoken English so is able to infer the punctuation for themselves.

I still struggle with the distinction 37 years on. It reminds me of the years I worked abroad, conversing in English with non-native English speakers. When I got back to the UK I found my vocabulary had collapsed. Took a good five years to recover.

I would like to add that I think your English is excellent Golam.

Robin2: What the rules of grammar say?

If the "rules of grammar" do not reflect how language is used then it is the rules that are wrong.

Grammar attempts to describe the consensus for how a language is spoken. English grammar is rather ambiguous, due to the mixed heritage. The language developed from competing occupations, before being exported around the globe. Despite the ancient roots English remains one of the fastest evolving languages, as far as I know.

Punctuation, on the other hand, is just a series of marks intended to make the written word easier to understand.

[Shudder(!)] Open punctuation whereby the reader is left to infer their own punctuation reduces English (a remarkably flexible and expressive language) to the lowest common denominator.

Imagine speaking the following words to the mechanical beat of a metronome.

And now the end is near and so I face the final curtain my friend I will say it clear I will state my case of which I am certain I have lived a life that is full I have traveled each and every highway and more much more than this I did it my way.

In fact I doubt that there are many native and adult English speakers who could say or read those words without subconsciously adding punctuation to them.

The more this Thread continues the more convinced I become of the validity of my second point in Reply #4.

Punctuation is vital, to convey the cadence of English speech and thought. Meaning does not depend merely on the arrangement of words but also the formation of phrases. I hope the lyrics I quoted above demonstrate just how powerful punctuation can be.

msssltd: could say or read those words without subconsciously adding punctuation to them.

I don't think that contradicts my assertion that punctuation is "just a series of marks intended to make the written word easier to understand" - given that I was writing about written language and I was drawing a distinction between grammar and punctuation.

...R

I have taken the following sentence from a post of some other Section. I am (being a non-native) facing hard time to bring tense/punctuation correction (if needed) in this beautifully constructed sentence. I would highly appreciate if someone (native or non-native) paraphrases the sentence.

The side by side screenshot you posted makes no sense compared with the Zround scoreboards page but looking at your screenshot of the Zround message setup page I suspect that you can use whatever you like as the command string at the start of the message rather than them being fixed as I had assumed

I would like to see the sentence written as: (please, comment) The side by side screenshot you have posted makes no sense compared with the Zround scoreboards page*;* but looking at your screenshot of the Zround message setup page*,* I suspect that you can use whatever you like as the command string at the start of the message rather than them being fixed as I had have assumed*.*

sp. "side-by-side"

sp. "side-by-side"

1. According to THE OXFORD PAPERBACK DICTIONARY, the 'side by side' (standing close together) is a valid construct.

2. According to this link, side-by-side is the alternate spelling of side by side.

3. According to this link, 'This hyphenated spelling is usually used before a noun it modifies, whereas the unhyphenated spelling is used after a noun it modifies.' (There are no examples.)

This hyphenated spelling is usually used before a noun it modifies

"screenshot" being the noun.

According to THE OXFORD PAPERBACK DICTIONARY

But Oxford is weird about 's' and 'z'.