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Pondering Punctuation Points
and Other Palaver

2006 Anna Furtado

        

Anna Furtado


I've been in the final throes of editing a manuscript. I'm coming down the homestretch and find that the last vestiges that need polishing are all those compound sentences and independent clauses that need to be set off by a comma. This got me thinking about punctuation, so I went to the Internet to find some reference sites. Here's a little bit of what I found.

http://www.grammarbook.com/
The goal of this site is to try to sell you a book on grammar, but the on-line tests are an excellent review and you don't have to give up any personal information to take them. The multiple-choice questions may not be as easy as they look at first glance, but they will be eye opening. When you get the correct answer, affirmation and praise abounds. Check out: Grammar Mastery Test and the Punctuation and Capitalization Mastery Test.

Next site: http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/punct.html

Here you'll find a list of common punctuation links that lead to descriptions and examples. Most helpful, though, are the Review: Identifying Punctuation Errors and the Review: Adding Punctuation pages-great tips for doing final edits. Also there, you'll find a list of sample sentences that may be correct or incorrect. When you've decided if it's correct or incorrect and why, click to get the correct answer.

Another punctuation site: http://lilt.ilstu.edu/golson/punctuation/ lists some pretty basic punctuation information about colons, semicolons, commas, dashes, and apostrophes. However, the introduction is interesting because it gives a nice description on the fluidity and changing rules of punctuation. The key element is that we all agree on what's acceptable.

Also try http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/. This site is packed with grammar and punctuation information and it is very user friendly. One section, in particular, caught my eye: Proofreading for Commas. The suggestions there may be very helpful for anyone, novice and veteran alike, during the editing process. At this site, you'll also find some "fill-in-the-blank" exercises. Again, these are good for a brush up on those old and sometimes long-forgotten rules-or you may even learn a new rule.

Use the link: http://englishplus.com/grammar/punccont.htm to go to another site that contains good definitions and examples. The most intriguing thing about this site is the inclusion of "The Virgule." No, it's not that little thing at the back of Mickey Mouse's mouth that vibrates when he yells.

The virgule, often called the "slant bar" by computer users (or forward slash to some of us), has four specific uses in punctuation. Click on the site to see what they are if you don't already know. The word "virgule" itself was worth the visit for me!

I've found some of my best writing information on the Internet and in the public library in the children's area. Fact Monster (http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0771337.html) is just the kind of kids' site that has some little gems to offer. When looking for information on grammar or punctuation, simple is better (and sometimes quicker). The punctuation section of this site also references "The Virgule," but only in parentheses following the more recognizable "Slash." The punctuation page also contains a link to grammar help.

In my opinion, the best page at Fact Monster is http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0769282.html. The Speaking of Language page contains all kinds of miscellaneous information that may be helpful to those of us who love to incorporate trivia of one sort or another into our stories. The following are the list of topics you'll find on the Speaking of Language page:
Amazing Language Facts
Language Trivia
Persons Speaking a Language Other than English at Home, 2000
Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World
Idioms and Proverbs
Acronyms and Other "Onyms"
Palindromes
Anagrams
Greetings Around the World
Say Thank You
Saying "Merry Christmas" or "Season's Greetings" Around the World
Saying "Happy New Year!" Around the World
The International Language of Love
Latin Words and Phrases
Foreign Words and Phrases
Secret Languages/Mystery Messages (Pig Latin and more.)
Making Wishes (Here you'll find such things as: Make a wish on the first star you see at night, and put a watermelon seed on your forehead and make a wish before it falls off.)
What Colors Mean (The most interesting thing I found here is that almost every color is a mourning color in some country.)
Say It with Flowers (So much more than roses!)
American Sign Language and Braille (The history of both is recounted here.)
Braille System
How to Write a Complaint Letter (Well, it could be useful.)
Forms of Address (How to address a diplomat, a religious person, an academic and more.)
Common Abbreviations
Whatchamacallits, or Names for the Little Things (Example: a clothespin is made up of a "grinning hole" and a "claw end." Who knew?)
Latin and Greek Word Elements
Glossary of Poetry Terms
Finally, when you're ready to pull yourself away from all that trivia and get back to some serious writing, try Strunk's Elements of Style at: http://www.bartleby.com/141/. The site contains a summary of everything you need to know about elements of style.
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2006 Anna Furtado — Author of The Heart's Desire
Book One of The Briarcrest Chronicles

Finalist—Golden Crown Literary Society "Goldie" Awards 2005
Distributed by: Starcrossed Productions
Web site: http://www.annafurtado.com
E-mail: annaf@annafurtado.com


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