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Semicolons, Colons, and Dashes - Explanations Added

Back to the basics with regular Challenge winner, Ann Grover. Weekly lessons to help you hone your basic writing skills.

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Anja
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Postby Anja » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:45 am

CatLin wrote:I have a question: you said dashes were used to set off a parenthetical comment -- why or when would one use dashes instead of parentheses?


If you've read the previous comma lessons, then you know that commas are also used to set off parenthetical material.

It's a matter of emphasis to determine when you'd use each one.

Parentheses indicate more emphasis than commas.

Dashes indicate more emphasis than parentheses.

Following that logic, then:

Dashes - most emphasis
Parentheses
Commas - least emphasis

Dashes indicate a longer voice pause than commas.


Use dashes to set off appositives which contain commas or semicolons. (Appositives are nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases that describe or explain another noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.)

Janis invited her friends--Susan, Mary, Gerry, Sam, and Jim--to her pool party.


Use dashes to add "afterthoughts."


I should have dealt with fixing the tire sooner--like yesterday.


Dashes and parenthesis can incorporate a complete sentence.

They finally sold their house (they'd lived there for 32 years) in January.
They finally sold their house--it had been listed for two years--in January.



I think of using parentheses as more of adding an "aside." Pertinent, "by the way" information.

Guy W. (who was also the founder of the Calgary Stampede) had a ranch in southern Alberta.

Hammond Elementary School (the building was torn down and rebuilt in the 1990's) will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.




Remember that anything set off in commas, dashes, and parentheses are not essential to the general meaning of the sentence, and do not interfere with the grammatical structure of the sentence. In other words, if you remove the material inside the commas, dashes, or parentheses, you MUST still have a grammatically correct sentence. (The exception is dialogue.)

Use dashes and parentheses sparingly.

Did I cover everything?
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Postby Anja » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:47 am

choosingjoy wrote: Also good to be reminded, because it's easy for me to confuse hyphens and dashes, thus I left spaces.


Once we cover hyphens, you won't be confused again. Two entirely different functions. :D
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Postby CatLin » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:21 pm

Thanks, Ann! Before I started reading your lessons, I thought I knew grammar and punctuation pretty good. :lol: You are a blessing.
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Postby eireann » Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:54 pm

Anja wrote:
eireann wrote:Why did Ursula leave a space between words and dashes—is this a European version?


Are you referring to MY preference--designating a dash by needing to use two hyphens--or the space I've left -- for clarity -- between the dash and the fore and aft words?


I guess it's your preference, then. The CMOS said to leave no space around the dash, so I was wondering was the space a UK thing.

When I do the two-hyphen thing, I block it and then use Alt 0151 to turn it into a pretty dash—like that. :)
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Postby Anja » Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:19 pm

eireann wrote:
Anja wrote:
eireann wrote:Why did Ursula leave a space between words and dashes—is this a European version?


Are you referring to MY preference--designating a dash by needing to use two hyphens--or the space I've left -- for clarity -- between the dash and the fore and aft words?


I guess it's your preference, then. The CMOS said to leave no space around the dash, so I was wondering was the space a UK thing.

When I do the two-hyphen thing, I block it and then use Alt 0151 to turn it into a pretty dash—like that. :)


I have a Mac, so when I do Alt 0151, I get gibberish.

So I need to use two hyphens, perfectly acceptable. And you are right about no spaces needed around the dash, but I was doing it for clarity. I could have used neon green for the dashes instead. :mrgreen:
Ann Grover

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Postby lthomas » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:23 pm

Thanks, Ann.

This has been very helpful. I just hope I can retain it. Your summaries are especially helpful.

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Postby Amanda1991 » Wed May 26, 2010 11:17 pm

Anja wrote:Use dashes to add "afterthoughts."

I should have dealt with fixing the tire sooner--like yesterday.


I have a question: I sometimes use ellipses for emphasis, though I'm not sure this is entirely proper. Should dashes be used instead? Should ellipses only be used for an incomplete thought?

(And hey, did I use all my colons and commas right? ;) )
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Postby Anja » Thu May 27, 2010 10:06 am

I'll cover ellipses right away, Amanda. Maybe today...


I need to correct my OWN statement above.


Use dashes to add "afterthoughts."


SHOULD read

Use dashes to add "afterthoughts".

In this case, the quotation marks go INSIDE the terminal punctuation.

It is linked to the quoted or special word.


It might have been preferable to use italics.

Use dashes to add afterthoughts.


And I may even come back and correct this again.
Using correct grammar can be a most humbling task.



I am going back to my original statement, "Use dashes to add "afterthoughts."

I've been trying variations of this all day, and my grammar check is having a fit.

But IF you are writing a title of a poem, for example, the quotation marks DO go inside.

Do you like the poem "The Red Wheelbarrow"?
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Semicolons, commas, dashes....

Postby punkin » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:01 pm

:) Ann--

Thanks for sharing that one I have missed that part somehow. I have read it over and over again but didn't see this one. It was helpful as I commanly make this mistake. Now I can work on it to improve it.

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Re:

Postby Lillie22 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:28 am

Just remember to use TWO hyphens to make a dash, and no spaces between the words and the dashes. (Some programs will automatically fuse the two hyphens as soon as they are typed. There is no symbol on a keyboard for a dash.)

I hope I've got that clarified now, after trying to make it easier to see / understand by using spaces.[/quote]

For an "em dash" try pressing the ALT key, and then type 0151 on keyboard. I hope this helps.
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Re: Semicolons, Colons, and Dashes - Explanations Added

Postby DMW » Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:33 pm

Hi Ann,

Could you please review my poem "Jesus is Killing Me", posted below, and tell me if the "..." 's are acceptable?

http://www.faithwriters.com/article-det ... ?id=143016

I used them in this piece because they seemed aesthetically appropriate. I liked the way it looked.

Plus, they make the reader stop/pause, read, stop/pause, read; creating a sing-song feel.

I noticed in another post here...in regard to another question...that if you took what was in the center out, the sentence would still be complete (like I used it in this sentence). Obviously, that wouldn't be true for my poem.

Are rules for poetry and other writtings different?

Thank you so very much for any and all help you can give me.

Yours in Christ,
Donna

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Re: Semicolons, Colons, and Dashes - Explanations Added

Postby Anja » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:22 am

Donna,

I'm not an expert on poetry. (Or really anything else, really!)

Maybe Jan or Jim can weigh in on the specifics.

I'll have a look at your poem right now.

(Sorry for missing this. Birthday weekend, Valentines Day, ranch work, etc.)
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Re: Semicolons, Colons, and Dashes - Explanations Added

Postby Anja » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:29 am

My opinion is that the " . . . " are fine. As is the omission of commas between the "addressee" and the rest of the text.

So, help me Lord Jesus...Please...keep killing that old me.

Ordinarily, in prose or dialogue, that would be "So, help me, Lord Jesus...Please...keep killing that old me." (See the comma?)

Also, for ellipses ( . . . ), it must be space, period, space, period, space, period, space. Like this . . .

So, help me Lord Jesus . . . Please . . . keep killing that old me.

Hope that helps.
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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