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 »  Articles Overview  »  Language Specific  »  English Grammar  »  Perfect Punctuation

Perfect Punctuation

By Furness-M.A. | Published  08/12/2009 | English Grammar | Recommendation:
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Quicklink: http://www.proz.com/doc/2567
Author:
Furness-M.A.
Netherlands
English to Dutch translator
 

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Perfect punctuation

Of course, before you deliver a translation, you should first put it through your computer´s English spelling-checker or send it to a second reader for punctuation errors. But remember that a spelling-checker is never enough. Your translation can always include punctuation mistakes that your computer´s spelling-checker will not find or that the second reader does not spot. Here are some tips for knowing how to use punctuation marks and for knowing which punctuation marks you should use.

First of all, after each punctuation mark (period, comma, etc.) you should hit the space bar once. This sounds simple, but is often forgotten because of a lack of time or simply because you are a bit tired. Also sometimes it is hard to see that you forgot a space after a punctuation mark, because of the type of font you are using.

Secondly, if you have to hyphenate a word because you arrived at the end of a line, always hyphenate between syllables only and not anywhere else. You can find out how a word should be broken up into syllables by looking it up in your dictionary.

In addition, some people find it difficult how to decide where a sentence starts and where it ends. During my work as a proofreader I often come across sentences that include a comma, but in fact do not need a comma. As a general rule you could say that if it is possible to make a sentence from the second sentence after the comma, without changing the subjects into objects and the other way around and without changing the cause into a result and the other way around, it is not necessary to use a comma. Then of course the first letter of the second sentence after the comma should be changed into a capital.

For example, someone wrote the following sentence:

Ms Smith is not afraid to talk to others about their responsibilities, she finds it hard to carry out tasks by herself.

So why would you not use a comma in the above-mentioned sentence?

First of all, the first part of the sentence does not have a direct relationship with the second part of the sentence. That is, the fact that Ms Smith “finds it hard to carry out tasks by herself” does not have much to do with the fact that she “is not afraid to talk to others about their responsibilities”.

Therefore the sentence should be split up into two sentences, like this:

Ms Smith is not afraid to talk to others about their responsibilities. She finds it hard to carry out tasks by herself.

Always remember what the actual function is of a comma. The second part of a sentence after a comma is often used for some kind of explanation or for example before the word “but” in the second part of a sentence.

Finally, how do you know when to use a period? A period actually functions as a short pause between two sentences. A period can be placed at the end of a declarative sentence. In this way it indicates a full stop. Of course it is also used after abbreviations.


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