post #16 of 21
11/28/09 at 7:02am
, = short pause
; = long pause
(...) = additional info
- ... - additional info w/ more emphasis
or just google it.
I would have used a question mark for the question you pose ("For example, just now, could I have used....?") And, you may want to revisit and edit the following: "(.....they're called em dashes)".
I fear you have a great deal more to worry about than punctuation et al..
This is good, vcoheda. I'd like to try to refine it; I hope you don't take it amiss.
, *comma* = short pause. The natural, intuitive gauge for this is to listen to the falling of natural pauses when you speak out loud or imagine the cadence of speech. Unfortunately, there are exceptions. Among these are
a. Dependent phrases and clauses that precede the main clause must be followed by a comma: "Unfortunately, there are exceptions." "By the shores of Ichigoomi, stood a warlike Indian brave." BUT "A warlike Indian brave stood by the shores of Ichigoomi.
b. The current MLA standard is to insert a comma before the coordinating conjunction in a sequence of three or more equivalent items.
I'm "dirty but happy," "diggin' and scratchin'," and "losin' a shoe or a button or two."
; *semicolon* = links an independent clause to another independent clause that is closely related to it or whose significance naturally follows from it. A complete, independent clause must follow the semicolon.
"Suzie-Q burst through the door red-faced; she had looked over an hour for her crack pipe."
: *colon* = almost always follows an independent clause. The colon argues that what follows will explain or illustrate the independent clause before it. A colon could have been used for the Suzie-Q example. What follows the colon does not have to be an independent clause.
"Aunt Mape is famous for the exotic ingredients in her special Christmas cake: candied peel, crystalline ginger, new spark plugs, high-test motor oil."
"Jimmy come in bawlin' to his mamma that he wanted a Christmas cake: he needed to replace the spark plugs in his F-11."
(. . .) *parentheses* = quiet, implied apposition. The apposite phrase "serve[s] to define or modify" the noun phrase that it is inserted into (Wikipedia). The parentheses suggest a quiet or discreet suggestion of relevance.
"You can't make an omelet (or babies) without breaking some eggs."
-- *dash* = is the loudest and least formal assertion of apposition. It is often used in more formal prose to suggest a moment in which colloquial or idiomatic speach interrupts or digresses from more formal prose.
"Gerald was confident that he could think of any number of famous historical figures--Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, J. Edgar Hoover--who had stunning legs."
"Justin snatched the bottle--it wasn't his, but he was damned if that baby was going to have it all to himself--and chugged the last of the lukewarm breast milk."
When these punctuation marks make sentences too convoluted, don't forget normal coordinating conjunctions and periods.