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Posts Tagged ‘Proper grammar’

Let’s Talk Grammar and Punctuation for a While

(Post Number Eight)

 The Itinerant Italics

Are you a writer who used italics frequently? Or perhaps you’re not quite sure when to use this little punctuation perk? Such was the case with me until I did a little research and study to make sure I was using italics correctly.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the most common way to use italics is mostly in fiction when using Direct Internal Discourse.

What in the world is Direct Internal Discourse?

Oh, that’s the “formal” fancy term for expressing someone’s inner thoughts. This is the most frequent use of italics. So let’s look at some examples of that plus some examples of other uses for italics:

Example One: Bill looked at Susie and thought, Now’s the time to ask her to marry me.

Example Two:   That’s just the sweater I want! Marge asked the clerk, “How much is that pullover cardigan?”

Exception: Do NOT italicize an inner thought that is indirect or paraphrased.

Example: Steve had been telling himself not to buy that car for the last week.

 

 Citing Sources

Although the AP Stylebook says to put all “composition” titles in quotation marks except the Bible and reference books, the CMOS prefers using italics for large titles:

Example One: Gone With the Wind is one of the most powerful movies ever made.

Example Two: One of my favorite books is The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans.

Example Three: Have you subscribed to the Reader’s Digest again this year?

Exception: Smaller components of such works, such as articles, chapter titles,

song titles, poem titles, and episodes should be in quotation marks.

Example: Barry read an amazing article about chipmunks entitled “The Nuts’ Best Friend” in this month’s Pennsylvania Magazine.

 

Animal Noises, Sounds, Ringing Phones, Etc.

In fiction, words that depict sounds other than dialogue are written in italics:

Example One:   Woof! Woof! Barney, Pete’s dog, barked his head off!

Example Two:   S-q-u-e-a-k …. “Who’s there?” Angie screamed.

Example Three: R-i-n-g …. Philip hurried to the front door, hoping he’d see Angie.

 

Foreign Words and Phrases

Unless you’re writing about Russian spies or Amish Ordnungs, this italics rule might mean little to you. However, whenever quoting foreign words or phrases, use italics. In the case of using the foreign words in fiction, they are usually italicized the first time as an introduction but are not italicized throughout the novel.

Example One: Henrietta’s German mother taught her to say ich liebe dich, (I love you), which helped Henrietta express her true feelings.

Example Two: In her Amish Ordnung, Ruth was the only alt maedel over twenty-five years who wasn’t married yet.

 

Italics for Emphasis

Often, in trying to express emphasis, writers will mistakenly use quotation marks instead of italics in a sentence. However, the italics is the proper way to go to express emphasis in a sentence:

Example One: Fritz made a very conscious effort to go on a diet this time.

Example Two: “Are you really going to drive to Florida by yourself?” Harry asked Bob.

 

Quoting a Word or Phrase

This use of the italics is probably most used in nonfiction. When citing words or discussing phrases, italicize the word or phrase in discussion:

Example One: The use of the word salvation in many of our traditional hymns has a powerful message.

Example Two: The shed blood of Jesus is one of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith.

So, there you have the most common uses of the italics. Take a look at your own writings, see if you can incorporate a few italics here and there, and give your manuscript a little extra spice. As long as italics aren’t overused, this little punctuation perk can add some life to your work. So go for it.

Next time we’ll look at the exclamation point! This little jot and tittle is probably one of the most misused punctuation marks in the English language!

Happy writing!

Marsha

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Let’s Talk Grammar for a While

(Post Number Four)

Mr. Em—Dash and Nanny En-Dash

 

 Although many folks use these little dashes interchangeably, there is a correct use for each one. I dare say that some beginning writers might not even know there is an em dash and an en dash. They might think they’re one in the same. So let’s go to the Grammar Dashboard and discuss these two punctuation marks’ appearance and use.

“The Em Dash—”

This “long” hyphen denotes a sudden break in thought that causes a sharp change in the structure of the sentence. It can be used anywhere in a simple sentence with the insertion of a shorter sentence or phrase to change the thought or it can be used to complement a certain part of speech (usually a noun). When the em dash appears at the end of a line of dialogue, it represents an interruption by another person’s following remark or an abrupt end to the line of dialogue. Let’s look at some examples:

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Example  One:

With Mayor Combs’ health problems, will he—should he—run for office again?

Barry gave away all the puppies but one—the brown one with the pink nose.

Three gorgeous horse breeds—the Arabian, Tennessee Walker, and Quarter Horse—are my favorites.

George W. Bush—a past governor and U.S. president—now lives in Texas.

*NOTE: there should be NO spaces before or after the em dash in the previous examples.

A word to the wise writer: don’t go overboard with em dashes. They should be used sparingly. Never use more than one em dash—or a pair of them—in one sentence. Also, if you think a comma, parenthesis, or a colon would work, then by all means use one of them instead of the em dash.

Example Two:

Mable yelled at her brother, “Stop that or I’ll—”

“Or you’ll what?” her brother yelled back.

“What is that bright light in the sky?” Susie asked her friend. “Is it a—” Susie was so frightened, she could no longer speak.

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Now, you might be asking, “Where in the world do I find the em dash on my keyboard? Can I just plug in two hyphens? Some word processors automatically convert hyphens to en dashes and em dashes. For instance, if I type two hyphens simultaneously after the last word without any space then hit “Enter,” the computer converts that to an em dash. But if that doesn’t work, do this to insert an em dash: hold down the CTRL key and ALT key simultaneously and hit the hyphen on the numeric keypad.

“The En Dash –”

I’ll be the first one to confess that I don’t use the en dash the way I should. I usually use a hyphen instead because it’s just easier to insert.

Anyway, an en dash has three distinct uses. They connect inclusive numbers as in dates, pages, and Bible verses. They are used in compound adjectives with open compounds or when two or more elements are open compounds or hyphenated compounds. And they are used to link a city to the name of a university that has multiple campuses. Here are the examples:

*********************************************************************

Example One: The date 1934-35; the pages 190 -191; Genesis 3:2 – 4 (My computer chose not to convert my hyphens to en dashes. It is acceptable to use hyphens in this way)

Example Two: the post – Vietnam era;   a brother – sister relationship

Example Three: Penn State University – State College, PA

 

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“And, pray tell,” you might ask, “where does one find this little rascal on the keyboard?”

Well, now that you asked, here’s the answer: (If your computer feels like cooperating) – type your word, insert a space, then type a hyphen and the next letter or word immediately without a space, and the computer should convert the hyphen to an en dash. Try it and see what happens. Sometimes my PC does it; sometimes it doesn’t. Go figure.

So have some fun with em dashes and en dashes; learn to use them sparingly and spruce up your writing style with a little extra flavor. You just might catch the eye of an editor—or an agent—as you write the best you know how!

Next time, we’ll look at colons, the little double periods stacked on top of each other.

Keep on writing and have a successful new year!

Marsha

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

www.marshahubler.com

P.S. If you haven’t been receiving my periodic Montrose Christian Writers Conference newsletters about the exciting 2017 conference and you’d like to be on the mailing list, please contact me. A tremendous faculty has committed and promises to present dynamite classes for all aspects of writing.

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