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  #31  
Old May 4th, 2020, 02:35 PM
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Dangit, Ytter, if only RPGX would allow me to give you RPXP for all these posts without spreading it around in the interim, I'd be a very happy man. Thank you for putting these things into better words than my instinctual layman's brain ever could.
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  #32  
Old May 4th, 2020, 02:44 PM
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Pop Quiz: What is the different between a cat and a comma?
 


I almost put "it's" in the answer, even though I wasn't typing a contraction... but caught myself at the last minute! Yay, improvement!

Side note: I once played a higher-level conjurer that would frequently summon a bunch of evil-smiting celestial triceratops (triceratopses? triceratopi, perhaps?) at the first sign of trouble... especially in confined spaces. It led to some amusing situations, but that's the extent of my experience with dinosaurs in RPGs. Never have seen a DM really use them to their fullest.
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  #33  
Old May 4th, 2020, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziether View Post
Dangit, Ytter, if only RPGX would allow me to give you RPXP for all these posts without spreading it around in the interim, I'd be a very happy man. Thank you for putting these things into better words than my instinctual layman's brain ever could.
Thanks for the kind words!

While you were typing them, I was rereading my post and grumbling to myself over all the mistakes and inconsistencies I caught.
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  #34  
Old May 4th, 2020, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ytterbium View Post
An excitable dwarf with below average INT would probably say "I like to fight—and drink!"
I spy with my little eye a dash that is longer than my average hyphen. I've exactly two questions about that:

1. Why did you do it that way, instead of using a short "-" symbol? I know you have a good reason for it.

2. How did you do that? It may seem silly, but I don't see a button on my keyboard to replicate that long hyphen.
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  #35  
Old May 4th, 2020, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimson 0M3N View Post
I spy with my little eye a dash that is longer than my average hyphen. I've exactly two questions about that:

1. Why did you do it that way, instead of using a short "-" symbol? I know you have a good reason for it.

2. How did you do that? It may seem silly, but I don't see a button on my keyboard to replicate that long hyphen.
Three punctuation marks:

The hyphen: -

The en dash: –

The em dash: —

The latter two are named because they are supposed to be as wide as an N and M respectively.

These are not an area of expertise of mine, so if someone else knows more, please chime in. Here are things I've seen and do know.


Hyphens are your basic mark: An earthy-smelling halfling.


En and em dashes are more ambiguous. My publication actually uses the en dash with spaces around it where I use em dashes in my writing: "I like to fight – and drink!"

Some people like to use en dashes for ranges or sports scores:

So far I've been an editor from 2002–2020. Tampa Bay beat Kansas City 100–0.

This is especially useful for fonts that have hyphens that aren't parallel to the line of text, like Goudy.


An en dash can also act like a sort of superhyphen:

He submitted his book to an e-book–only publisher.

E-book is naturally hyphenated, and now it's part of a compound adjective, which requires a hyphen if before the noun. Another example:

Mary Smith-Johnson married John Brown, and now they are known as the Smith-Johnson–Brown family.


Em dashes are used to replace parentheses or commas—like this—and a space on either side of one is optional (but put spaces on both sides or not at all). The second em dash in the previous sentence actually replaced both an end parenthesis and a comma, which would otherwise be required because it was a compound sentence with two clauses.

I also like to use em dashes where I want a pause in dialogue, but a comma would be incorrect.


I'm on Mac now, and for me the en dash is made with option + hyphen, and the em dash is option + shift + hyphen. I think on a PC it's control (+ shift) + hyphen, but I've been wrong about this stuff before.
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Last edited by Ytterbium; May 5th, 2020 at 10:11 AM. Reason: Didn't like a comma.
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  #36  
Old May 4th, 2020, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimson 0M3N View Post
I almost put "it's" in the answer, even though I wasn't typing a contraction... but caught myself at the last minute! Yay, improvement!
The it/it's rule is an example of the arbitrariness of English language. Yes, knowing that you only use "it's" as a contraction for "it is" is regarded as a base line for having good grammar. Except ... "it's" was a common possessive use up until the 19th century, when conventions changed. There is no divine reason why we have the current distinction between "it's" and "its" except for ... well, because we do. Kory Stamper has an interesting take on this in her book "Word by Word." She writes like a badass multiclass lexicographer/anarchist.
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  #37  
Old May 4th, 2020, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ytterbium View Post
I think on a PC, it's control (+ shift) + hyphen, but I've been wrong about this stuff before.
We'll find out together easily enough. Control + shift + hyphen makes this symbol:

Never mind, it seems to just resize my screen as though I were hitting control + minus. No actual symbol was made. I decided to use my weapon of last resort (Google) and got this:

Google Says:For an en-dash, hold alt and type "0150", then release alt.
For an em-dash, hold alt and type "0151", then release alt.


In testing it out, this works just fine: –, —. However, I doubt seriously that anyone will ever remember the process to make these things.

I also took a little time to look up the usage of each symbol. Apparently the en-dash is chiefly used when referring to a range of dates or numbers, as you've mentioned Ytter. The em-dash is used in lieu of a semicolon in informal writings— usually to add emphasis on the last few words of a sentence.



EDIT: apparently this is the topic of some debate. According to thepunctuationguide.com:
Copy-paste magicThe em dash can be used in place of a colon when you want to emphasize the conclusion of your sentence. The dash is less formal than the colon. After months of deliberation, the jurors reached a unanimous verdict⁠—guilty. The white sand, the warm water, the sparkling sun⁠—this is what brought them to Fiji.


According to really-learn-english.com:
More copy-paste magicWe use the em dash in sentences to create a strong break to show an interruption, a change of thought, or to show emphasis. The em dash can be used in place of some commas, parentheses, colons, and semicolons. Notes: The em dash is mostly used in informal writing such as friendly letters, emails, and journals.
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Last edited by Crimson; May 4th, 2020 at 04:32 PM. Reason: Em-dashes are more fiddly than I initially realized.
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  #38  
Old May 4th, 2020, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananabadger View Post
The it/it's rule is an example of the arbitrariness of English language. Yes, knowing that you only use "it's" as a contraction for "it is" is regarded as a base line for having good grammar. Except ... "it's" was a common possessive use up until the 19th century, when conventions changed. There is no divine reason why we have the current distinction between "it's" and "its" except for ... well, because we do. Kory Stamper has an interesting take on this in her book "Word by Word." She writes like a badass multiclass lexicographer/anarchist.
No, there is no divine reason for any of the so-called rules of English grammar. Everything is ultimately arbitrary, but the purpose of the written word is to communicate, and standardization (woohoo, one of those great words that isn't standardized across the major forms of English!) is the greatest tool we have to improve the effectiveness of that communication. As Ytter mentioned repeatedly with the Oxford Comma, reducing ambiguity is of paramount concern.

Understanding the "why" of English grammar is useful for getting a deeper look at what has shaped the hodgepodge amalgamation that the language is today and the forces that act on its continuing evolution into the future. They don't tell us that anything has to be, or that some alternative might not be better. What's important in the moment is knowing how best to convey information in the present.
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  #39  
Old May 4th, 2020, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimson 0M3N View Post
EDIT: apparently this is the topic of some debate. According to thepunctuationguide.com:
Copy-paste magicThe em dash can be used in place of a colon when you want to emphasize the conclusion of your sentence. The dash is less formal than the colon. After months of deliberation, the jurors reached a unanimous verdict⁠—guilty. The white sand, the warm water, the sparkling sun⁠—this is what brought them to Fiji.


According to really-learn-english.com:
More copy-paste magicWe use the em dash in sentences to create a strong break to show an interruption, a change of thought, or to show emphasis. The em dash can be used in place of some commas, parentheses, colons, and semicolons. Notes: The em dash is mostly used in informal writing such as friendly letters, emails, and journals.
I didn't know about the colon bit. That's interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ytterbium View Post
That's interesting.
Geez, I'm a nerd.
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  #40  
Old May 4th, 2020, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziether View Post
Everything is ultimately arbitrary, but the purpose of the written word is to communicate, and standardization (woohoo, one of those great words that isn't standardized across the major forms of English!) is the greatest tool we have to improve the effectiveness of that communication.
Good point. And I agree that standard spellings, punctuation, and grammar rules facilitate conversation.

I've edited this next bit a few times so it doesn't sound so ... strident (and I particularly don't want to hijack Aethera's thread and their work in helping people master some skills that will bring even more polish to their writing), but I think it is also important to recognize the distinction between rules, guidelines and arbitrary style choices.

A writer can't throw down dingbats and expect readers to appreciate them as a liberated use of creative punctuation, but neither should any writer be restrained with an undue fear of damaging English. The use of an em dash, for example, is less governed by absolute rules than it is by fluctuating style preferences—ones that often vary from region to region. Grammar and style are not mathematics; their "rules" are products of a society and their enforcement can often be culturally weaponized. Frequently discussions around style and use are touchstones to social debates (first person singular "they," for instance, or the use "x" as a plural suffix). But perhaps more important to this site, whose backbone is its positive gathering of a global community of native and non-native English writers, is the awareness that English (including its sets of spellings and punctuation) comes in many standards (even sometimes mistaken ones), and that while we all strive for perfection, the collective story is the prize.

After all, you and your ideas are the greatest tool for communication ... the commas will just help you get there.
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  #41  
Old May 5th, 2020, 08:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimson 0M3N View Post
In testing it out, this works just fine: –, —. However, I doubt seriously that anyone will ever remember the process to make these things.
A little deeper searching revealed that on a PC (Windows, but likely Linux also) the combination ought to be alt+minus and alt+shift+minus for en dash and em dash respectively. This matches the Mac, actually, since the option key is effectively alt, Apple just needed to be different.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimson 0M3N View Post
EDIT: apparently this is the topic of some debate. According to thepunctuationguide.com:
Copy-paste magicThe em dash can be used in place of a colon when you want to emphasize the conclusion of your sentence. The dash is less formal than the colon. After months of deliberation, the jurors reached a unanimous verdict⁠—guilty. The white sand, the warm water, the sparkling sun⁠—this is what brought them to Fiji.


According to really-learn-english.com:
More copy-paste magicWe use the em dash in sentences to create a strong break to show an interruption, a change of thought, or to show emphasis. The em dash can be used in place of some commas, parentheses, colons, and semicolons. Notes: The em dash is mostly used in informal writing such as friendly letters, emails, and journals.
I know you've covered dashes already, but I would point out that when I was learning about submitting manuscripts to a publisher--I'd like to publish a novel someday--I was told to use the hyphen for anywhere you would use a hyphen or an en dash, and to use two hyphens to indicate an em dash as above, which I was taught was never with spaces. (Of course, the publishing industry is its own animal, and not all of what applies there is useful normally.) This is one of those places where language is in flux, and there's a certain range of acceptability. Since there is an easier way to type them on either operating system, you may not need this, but it can be faster while typing replies. Word as well as Scrivener (the novel software I use) will automatically turn two dashes into an em-dash. I admit I am very pleased to see Ytterbium mention using an en dash with spaces, as I've always thought it looked cleaner that way, but I expect I'll continue muddling along as I usually do to try and stick to the grammar I think I'd need when submitting to a publisher, regardless of how far off that may be.

Functionally, the em dash is used as a semi-colon or with what would also work as a parenthetical insert in my experience. The examples of usage as a colon you found at thepunctuationguide.com are accurate, but honestly I don't see it much. That could just be the style of writing I'm familiar with, I don't know.

EDIT: It is absolutely my intention to start linking questions and answers into that Q&A post I reserved, but I just haven't had a chance yet.

Last edited by Aethera; May 5th, 2020 at 08:29 AM.
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  #42  
Old May 5th, 2020, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aethera View Post
EDIT: It is absolutely my intention to start linking questions and answers into that Q&A post I reserved, but I just haven't had a chance yet.
With dashes, given that you, Crimson 0M3N, and I have all chimed in, it might be easiest to flex your red powers and copy all our additions to one chunk in reserved the Q&A post.

You definitely have my permission to move any of my contributions around in whatever way you think would be easiest on people looking for grammar tips.
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  #43  
Old May 5th, 2020, 09:21 AM
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I could, Ytter, but that might mean actual work involved. I think to start with, I'll link the original question and then link the start of related answers, and that will be more than I've got now. Ideally I cover everything in the Q&A during my other segments in the first post, but until then it would be nice to have answers compiled for those looking. Post links will do to start, I hope.

EDIT: Paraphrasing doesn't take as much space as quoting lots of posts, but I'm trying to provide links to the discussion. We'll see if I mess it up.

EDIT 2: Also renamed it, since most of the answers haven't been from me!

Last edited by Aethera; May 5th, 2020 at 10:10 AM.
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  #44  
Old May 5th, 2020, 10:41 AM
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I'll work on making it pretty later today. That's what I'm here for.
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  #45  
Old Jun 18th, 2020, 01:45 PM
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First off, I'm no literary or anything and only read to relax and escape reality for a time. But, at age 47, I'm still learning something new. For example, the It's/Its dilemma.

I have always used It's and only recently started using Its because Grammarly changed it often and I stopped fighting the program even though I still didn't understand why it was changing it sometimes and other times not. That is until I read about using It's here.

Ytterbium's explanation about the paragraph also showed me something new as I just used it for the break in the wall of text or where I 'felt' it needed one. And I realized I am an avid user of starting sentences with conjunctions (and/but/or). Sad to say, I doubt I'll stop anytime soon.

The talk of editors Banning certain words got my hackles up a bit. It just seemed wrong, and I started linking that with Freedom of Speach issues even though I know it's the job of editors to 'edit' content. I'm not one to get on the freedom of speech bandwagon, but that's just the way I felt reading those posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ytterbium View Post
Ytter said, "I like chocolate milk."

"I like chocolate milk," said Ytter.

Ytter asked, "Do you like chocolate milk?"

"Do you like chocolate milk?" asked Ytter.
First off, I like strawberry milk though chocolate milk is a good second

But onto the point at hand. For 99.99% of all my post's I use Ytter said, "I like chocolate milk." for conversations and only 0.01% times use "I like chocolate milk," said Ytter. Is there a time when one is better than the other?

And now for my question to the peanut gallery: Their and There? I think the first deals with people and the last deals with places, but I'm not sure, and apparently, Grammarly isn't sure either as I can interchange those two words in a sentence, and it has no problem with either. It's confused me sometimes, and I tend to spend a couple of minutes going back and forth before moving on and leaving it with whichever iteration of their/there was left last.

Edit: lol, rereading my post I realized I was still using but/and/or to start sentences after mentioning that I do it a lot. Guess I'm just a but, and, or kinda guy.
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Last edited by Silk; Jun 18th, 2020 at 01:49 PM.
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