Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 8 years ago

What's the proper use of a dash, parenthesis, and commas?

I'm a young, fiction writer. I've always been pretty good with grammar and spelling, but I'm trying to improve my craft and find my style.

I tend to write a lot of complex sentences, in my journal especially. I'll give this example:

"A year or two ago, I found a woman who lived in Croatia (or Serbia, I sometimes confuse the two). She was in a relationship with another woman, very attractive, only saw a few photos of her online, and that made me cautious. "

I'm not sure how to punctuate those two sentences. I've read grammar books, and I admit I need a refresher, but I'm still confused about when to use dashes, parenthesis, and commas.

...even elipses.

Maybe I could use an elipses before "[...]only saw a few photos of her", and would I write "[comma] online"?

Without changing the words, how would you punctuate this sentence, and why?

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  • 8 years ago
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    I, myself, am not a master, but I will try to share what I know, though.

    1. Dash. There are two kinds of dashes - the en dash and the em dash. Also, they are different from hyphens. Some consider the hyphen as a type of dash, though.

    The hyphen is used to separate words.

    ex. T-rex, X-ray, Yo-yo.

    When you are breaking words, use a hyphen. Think justified.

    The en dash, or n dash, is one 'N' long.

    The en dash is used to express a range.

    ex. 19-25

    You can also use the en dash for flight paths.

    ex. Tokyo-Spain flight.

    Another use for the en dash is compound adjectives.

    ex. cookie-cutter-rockstar guy

    The em dash, or m dash, is one 'M' long.

    But for this answer, I will be using two en dashes since my keyboard doesn't allow the use of the em dash.

    The em dash is used to express sudden thoughts.

    ex. My hairstylist--named Rick, by the way--smells good.

    Note that I didn't input spaces between the words and the em dashes.

    You can also use the em dash similar to a colon.

    ex. My friends were present--Alex, Rick, and Daisy included.

    2. Parenthesis

    Some people are confused with parentheses (()), brackets ([]), and braces ({}).

    Each have their own use, though.

    You can use the parentheses to include parts of the sentence which are not important.

    ex. I will see Jace (who went to photography class with me) later.

    You can also use them to include a whole sentence.

    ex. I will see Jace later. (I used to really like him.)

    Note the use of periods though.

    I tend to use a dash more often than a parenthesis.

    ex. I will see Jace-my crush.

    Brackets are sometimes used like the parentheses, but they should not be.

    Brackets are used to explain.

    ex. I should be finished with the novel [Rowling's Harry Potter] soon enough.

    Use brackets for words that have been omitted, as to not confuse the reader. This is mostly applied in articles though.

    ex. Jude Law is part of the A.I. cast as Gigolo Joe. He [Law] says that his wife teases him about this.

    You use brackets when stating sic, but sic must be italicized. The brackets should not be italicized though.

    I find braces to be used in literature the same way they are used in maths. In maths, they are used to specify a set.

    ex. The colors of the rainbow {red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet} are ...

    3. Commas.

    Commas are pretty much used to separate words, phrases, and clauses.

    Use commas to separate adjectives.

    ex. The big, red hen. The deep black, shiny hair. The bright, colorful, sparkling rainbow.

    Note how deep and black are not separated by a comma. This is because deep is an adjective to black and not to the hair.

    I don't know how to explain this though.

    ex. He brushed his teeth, combed his hair, and washed his face.

    Use commas with conjunctions for separating independent clauses. (Use the comma with your FANBOYS)

    ex. He brushed his teeth, but he didn't floss.

    Use commas in enumerating a series of words.

    ex. The colors of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue...

    Use commas to separate parts of the sentence. Separate the dependent clause or phrases that can be omitted.

    ex. My hairstylist, named Rick, smells good. Neil Gaiman, who wrote Sandman, has an exquisite voice. Frowning at the stars, Juliet dreamed of when she would see Romeo again.

    Use commas to avoid confusion.

    ex. I had ham and eggs for breakfast. I had ham, and eggs for breakfast.

    In the first example, ham and eggs is a dish. In the second example, ham and eggs are food that I ate in breakfast.

    ex. Outside the house was not as beautiful as it was inside.

    Use a comma after 'outside' to make the sentence make sense.

    Outside, the house was not...

    Try not to use a comma to signify a pause.

    4. "A year or two ago, I found a woman who lived in Croatia (or Serbia, I sometimes confuse the two). She was in a relationship with another woman--very attractive--only saw a few photos of her online, and that made me cautious. "

    I can't seem to punctuate the sentence another way.

    She is the subject. Was is the verb. In a relationship...woman is an adverb. Very attractive is the adjective to woman. I don't know what those that come after are.

    But if it were me, I'd change the words. A bit. I just added "I".

    "A year or two ago, I found a woman who lived in Croatia (or Serbia, I sometimes confuse the two). She was in a relationship with another woman--very attractive. I only saw a few photos of her online, and that made me cautious. "

    Source(s): Sorry for the very long answer and I hope the answer helps. Of course, please feel free to point out if I have said something wrong, or if you don't understand something that I said.
  • 3 years ago

    Proper Use Of A Dash

  • du
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Parentheses And Commas

  • 3 years ago

    1

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