1. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Punctuation Should this be a colon?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Alesia, Dec 20, 2013.

    I'm pretty sure it should be instead of a period, but for some reason I'm feeling kind of dumb today and want to make sure.
     
  2. Tharian
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    Tharian Contributing Member

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    I think you can, but perhaps it would be better to substitute the periods for commas in your enumeration.

    I have a drawer where I keep special things: old letters, photos, and things of sentimental value.

    A capital letter after the colon is in this instance not needed.
     
  3. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    What if it were a case where when the narrator is speaking it would be a pause though? Like "I have a drawer where I keep special things [pause] Old letters [pause] Photos [pause] Things of that nature [pause]
    Wouldn't that go along with needing a period after each list item? Or could I just eliminate the word and? Or even possibly insert a dash to emphasize a longer pause?
     
  4. Tharian
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    Tharian Contributing Member

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    The first example strikes me as though the author rushes through the sentence. Short and effective leads to a faster reading pace.

    The second example would be at a normal, casual pace.

    When I read the third one, however, I get the impression that, because of the sudden em dash, the author/character does not want to delve elaborately into the content of his drawer. He does not want to talk about it.

    ''I have a drawer where I keep special things: old letters . . .'' Samuel said, absently staring into a realm beyond my sight. ''Photos . . . things of that nature.''

    There are many ways to introduce a pause. Maybe you don't even have to state it so explicitly, because the ambience already provides a 'slow' vibe. This, of course, depends on context.
     
  5. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    It's the introduction to a novel written as a diary. Before showing the diary itself, the MC's sister is telling how she has a drawer for her special things. In the bottom of this drawer is a small, wooden box lined with velvet. Inside this box are three items of extreme emotional value: A gold locket, a note, and a diary, all of which belonged to her younger sister who took her own life some time before the introduction starts. She goes on to explain about how she was hurt and angry for a long time, questioning her sisters motives for doing such a thing - until she got the courage to read her diary. Then it explains how she used these entries to get closure on her sisters death and why she feels the need to share this diary with the world.
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    @Alesia, I like the second and third examples in your second post, and I think either one works. Separating the items using periods (like in your first example) isn't correct.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    is the narrator speaking aloud to someone, or herself?... or is she merely narrating the story, so what you want to write is part of the narrative, not dialog?

    that's what will determine how you should write and punctuate it...
     
  8. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Narrative.

    I could possibly throw in an elipsis to to show a brief pause.

     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Yes, it should be. But the other periods are wrong.

    "I have a drawer where I keep special things: old letters, photos, things of sentimental value."
    And this one is OK, perhaps even better:

    "I have a drawer where I keep special things: old letters, photos—things of that nature."​
     
  10. lex
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    lex Contributing Member

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    If you make the one you've shown in red a colon, then you're putting the list of examples in apposition. That's fine, but it means you also need to separate those items by semicolons. Or you can use periods for all of them, which is perfectly acceptable in "the modern style". You don't need to overthink this. :)
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the ellipsis is used to show a pause only in dialogue, so wouldn't be correct usage in narrative... you could use an em dash there, though...
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    I guess I need to review this since semicolons and periods just don't look right to me. But since you are the second person that finds this correct (Alesia and yourself) it suggests I may not be.


    Edited to add:

    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/colon.htm

    Nope, if it's a list, no caps and only commas. If complete sentences or quotes follow the colon, caps and periods are appropriate.

    The Power Point presentation has an example of a list following a colon.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  13. lex
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    lex Contributing Member

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    We may be overthinking it. ;)

    But, if you want to, Oxford University Press disagrees on this subject (regarding their accepted "house style") with the source mentioned above. I don't think it matters much, myself. I sought mainly to make the point that if substituting a colon as shown in red in the original post, it clearly wouldn't be right to use periods after each example: that would put the first example in the same sentence as the "stem", while separating all the others. :)
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A semicolon would be acceptable if the elements in the list were long phrases. Since that's not a problem here, you would use commas.
     
  15. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I think the commas and em dash fit. I probably could connect the two with a semi-colon because they are similar, yet related.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as an editor, i have to say that colon is intrusive and not needed... not even correct, imo... see below for what would work well, look good and read easily, with the meaning you want to impart...

    I have a drawer where I keep things that are close to my heart--old letters, photos, things of that nature.
     
  17. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    What's the difference between -- and an em dash?
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the double hyphen = an em dash to the printer...

    in mss, we use the double hyphen, because it can be hard to tell em dashes and hyphens apart... and that way, there can't be any confusion...
     
  19. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Ahhh, okay.
     
  20. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I like mammamaia's suggestion to substitute the colon with 'that are.' I guess it flows better.
    What does the ellipsis mean in narration then?
    (The person who edited the English translation of The Night Watch seemingly wasn't aware of this :confused:)
     
  21. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I'd like to know too. I've seen it plenty of times like Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me?
     
  22. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I thought a colon was only used when making a list of more than three things, and when using one, you are supposed to separate each item with a semi-colon.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there seems to be no consensus re ellipses use in narrative... seems to be more a matter of writer style, than a set of rules... check your punctuation guide for the various uses and then check another authoritative source and you may well find conflicting advice...
     

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