Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Broken link? Feature request? Anything related to the Spectrum Computing website here.
User avatar
R-Tape
Site Admin
Posts: 1675
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:46 am

Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by R-Tape » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:00 pm

This is arguably OT, but IMO still has some relevance to the forum, so have put it under 'Website'.

I recently came to a realisation about something of which I’m genuinely ashamed: I’m middle aged and I don’t know how to write English — either casually or formally. I may have done a bit of it at school, and it’s possible I just didn’t pay attention, but to be honest all I remember is the teacher saying “use a comma when you would pause for breath”. But I think it was mostly assumed that because we could speak it — we could write it.

So recently, I went back and learned the basics of grammar and punctuation; and now that I’ve hopefully attained the giddy heights of key stage 2 or 3, I feel crippled by this little knowledge. I now know that I’ve been splicing commas all over the spot for decades, but feel more comfortable with that than using the semicolon in a forum post! I’m not even confident I’m using them correctly, as my ‘work’ has never been validated. So I’m toggling between my previous, natural way of writing, and a more formal manner (that is hopefully about right). As a result I’m being totally inconsistent and am now terrified of getting it wrong or appearing stuffy. I'm also using colons and semicolons all over the spot, which can't be right.

I've never had to think about any of this before: ARGHHHHH!

TLDR: Am I alone in this lack of confidence? Do you know how to use a semicolon, colon, em dash, en dash and hyphen correctly? Do you know when you’re splicing a comma? Does any of this matter on an internet forum? HELP!

(Obviously I haven't mentioned spelling and apostrophes, as they should be a given :mrgreen: )
0 x

User avatar
PeterJ
Site Admin
Posts: 769
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:19 pm
Location: Surrey, UK

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by PeterJ » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:15 pm

I wouldn't worry about it Dave. Don't let is spoil your creative spirit. I was amazed at work to find that Microsoft Outlook now supports Emoji. I can't imagine anyone using a smiley face in any business email, but perhaps I'm just way out of touch.
1 x

User avatar
MatGubbins
Manic Miner
Posts: 493
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:45 am
Location: Kent, UK

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by MatGubbins » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:29 pm

As long as it looks good and reads as you want, then go with it.
Just make sure that the their, they're, there, where, were, we're are correct, otherwise the grammar police will laugh.
Do I use the ` (left of 1) or ' (between L and Return) as an apostrophe? I find ' (L and Return) easier to press.

I've noticed that I have a bad habit of switching between past and present tense within a written sentence though.

Let the Key stage people read the above and rip it apart....... (damn, too many full stops).
1 x
Bomb Munchies Ver1930 17th Nov 2017 (look for the blue download box ) If you get a time-out message and live in the UK then try after 9pm-3am.
Send me a PM and I can email it to you too. Kent, UK

User avatar
1024MAK
Manic Miner
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:52 pm
Location: Sunny Somerset in the U.K. in Europe

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by 1024MAK » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:33 pm

Um, ah, oh. As long as we can understand what you are saying (at least, I think that we may want to understand what you are saying...) it doesn't really matter... :mrgreen:

One of the most important concepts that no one told me (at least, I don't think anyone told me), is that in real speech, there are very few pauses and breaks. It's your brain that separates the run of continuous speech into the distinct and separate words. Listen to someone speaking in a language that you don't speak to see what I mean.

One thing that I was told in English class at school. Try to keep sentences to a reasonable length. Don't ramble on with long sentences packed full of commas.

Mark
1 x

User avatar
R-Tape
Site Admin
Posts: 1675
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:46 am

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by R-Tape » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:54 pm

PeterJ wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:15 pm
I wouldn't worry about it Dave. Don't let is spoil your creative spirit. I was amazed at work to find that Microsoft Outlook now supports Emoji. I can't imagine anyone using a smiley face in any business email, but perhaps I'm just way out of touch.
There are loads of different nationalities of varying fluency at my workplace, so Emojis are vital for me to ensure I don't offend a visitor with a badly judged ironic joke!
MatGubbins wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:29 pm
As long as it looks good and reads as you want, then go with it.
Good counsel, I think I'm still finding my feet. (<comma splice)
Just make sure that the their, they're, there, where, were, we're are correct
Definitely agree, these are the low hanging fruit and it should be a given that we get them right.(<comma splice)
I've noticed that I have a bad habit of switching between past and present tense within a written sentence though.
Nooo! Something else to worry about.
1024MAK wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:33 pm
One thing that I was told in English class at school. Try to keep sentences to a reasonable length. Don't ramble on with long sentences packed full of commas.
I vaguely remember this, but don't remember being told that I've been splicing my commas. Personally I think the comma splice is okay!

Actually, if I was to analyse it, isn't Mark's post comprised of too many short, abrupt sentences? Technically, shouldn't it be like this?
One thing that I was told in English class at school: try to keep sentences to a reasonable length; Don't ramble on with long sentences packed full of commas.
ARGH!
0 x

User avatar
R-Tape
Site Admin
Posts: 1675
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:46 am

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by R-Tape » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:02 pm

One thing that I was told in English class at school. Try to keep sentences to a reasonable length. Don't ramble on with long sentences packed full of commas.
Haaaaaaaang onnnnnnnnnnn; it gets worse: ^that's TWO things! :o
0 x

User avatar
R-Tape
Site Admin
Posts: 1675
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:46 am

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by R-Tape » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:09 pm

As if the waters weren't muddy enough, how should a contemporary game designer approach correct usage if they were writing a text adventure?

This is a nightmare!
0 x

User avatar
Ast A. Moore
Manic Miner
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:16 pm

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by Ast A. Moore » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:40 pm

R-Tape wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:00 pm
Do you know how to use a semicolon, colon, em dash, en dash and hyphen correctly?
Yep.
R-Tape wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:00 pm
Does any of this matter on an internet forum?
The question is: does it matter to you? Grammar and punctuation conventions are more than just esthetics—they aid in communication. If you want to make sure you’re not misunderstood, it’s a good idea to try to adhere to these rules. How important is this to you? That’s for you to decide.

Obviously, well written, correctly punctuated (and spelled) posts are a joy to read. The hidden—or, rather, less obvious—part of that joy is the fact that it takes less effort to parse such posts for an educated reader.

That said, we all (and I mean all, including us copyeditors), get sloppy sometimes; whether due to a rush (who has the time to re-read his own post several times before hitting the Submit button, anyway?), or due to laziness (okay, is this a forum post or a book I’m submitting to a publisher after all?), we always find excuses—often, quite legitimate—to not go over our writing.

I resigned my position in the Grammar Police Force years ago, yet I still tend to skip over poorly written or formatted posts.
0 x
Every man should plant a tree, build a house, and write a ZX Spectrum game.

Author of A Yankee in Iraq, a 50 fps shoot-’em-up—the first game to utilize the floating bus on the +2A/+3,
and zasm Z80 Assembler syntax highlighter.

User avatar
Ast A. Moore
Manic Miner
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:16 pm

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by Ast A. Moore » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:41 pm

R-Tape wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:09 pm
As if the waters weren't muddy enough, how should a contemporary game designer approach correct usage if they were writing a text adventure?
That’s easy—as with any writing, hire (bribe, kidnap) a copyeditor.
0 x
Every man should plant a tree, build a house, and write a ZX Spectrum game.

Author of A Yankee in Iraq, a 50 fps shoot-’em-up—the first game to utilize the floating bus on the +2A/+3,
and zasm Z80 Assembler syntax highlighter.

User avatar
Guesser
Dizzy
Posts: 82
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:35 pm

Re: Forum posts: grammar and punctuation

Post by Guesser » Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:43 pm

MatGubbins wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:29 pm
Do I use the ` (left of 1) or ' (between L and Return) as an apostrophe? I find ' (L and Return) easier to press.
Yes, the (typewriter) apostrophe key is there to be easy to use. There’s basically no reason to ever use the grave accent key unless you’re writing shell scripts or some forrin language ;)

If you were feeling particularly clever (or typesetting a book) you’d use proper unicode apostrophes rather than typewriter apostrophes like I’ve done throughout this post just to show off :lol:
0 x
My rubbish website including the redrawn Amstrad schematics and the new home of the Sinclair FAQ wiki.

Post Reply