1. Welsh_Biatch
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    Welsh_Biatch New Member

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    Dash and Comma

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Welsh_Biatch, Dec 19, 2009.

    I'm not sure if I have ever asked this question, I feel like I have but anyway - When should the dash or comma be used, I use Microsoft Word and it often suggests to me to use a dash in certain places, so is this the same thing as a dash?
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use an em dash (a double hyphen if you're using Word) if I'm giving extra info or wanting to give a hard emphasis to something. Otherwise, I use a comma.
     
  3. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate the Dickenson dash, with a fiery passion. So, inherently, I use a comma.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Microsoft Word is not a good guide to follow for punctuation and grammar. If you already know punctuation and grammar well, it can help you find oversights, but it will also make many poor recommendations.

    It isn't really Microsoft's fault - the task is not something that can be fully automated, due to the mathematics of language and context sensitive grammars.

    The question you ask is too complex to be covered adequately in the thread. I recommend you purchase and read a good writing style guide. Every writer should have the latest edition of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. The Little, Brown Handbook and The Scott Foresman Handbook for Writers are two others I highly recommend. Finally, The Chicago Manual of Style is a comprehensive reference, although its focus is on journalistic standards rather than fiction. Fiction takes a less formal approach to grammar, but there are preferred usages that you will get better advice about from the other three references above.
     
  5. Ali Shonak
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    Ali Shonak New Member

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    Hi;
    first of all, it is true that many contemporary novelists make little use of dashes; so that should forestall an objection coming from that direction.

    However, in addition to words, the dash gives the careful reader valuable information that commas might withold. Naturally, for greatest effect, the dash should be wisely and sparingly used. However, many writers shun the dash because they may not know how to use it. The same applies to the ellipsis points (...) I think it is a sign of the time and laziness to simplify punctuation, or even do away with it. As a writer, I owe it to myself to familiarize myself with all these little nuts and bolts in my tool kit and use them as required.
    What does the dash do that a comma cannot? To name a few applications.

    The dash will convey an important break in thought
    For emphasis
    To set off an explanatory group of words
    To enclose supplementary material, minor digressions, and afterthoughts

    PLus--more.

    My opinion. Ali
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    get yourself a good punctuation guide and an s&W... i have a 'tools of the trade' list i'll be glad to send you, if you email me... it might even be here somewhere, in a sticky...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     

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