1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Two Comma Questions

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Dec 11, 2011.

    First question. Sould we always use commas before words such as "too," "either," etc? I know we don't in the middle of a sentence, but at the beginning or end? Here's an example:

    "I'm never going to win the lottery, either."

    Some of these sentences are clear cut, but with commas here and there, sometimes the extra comma is cumbersome. Are these commas always necessary or optional?

    Second question. Should we surround the word "like" with commas when it's being used in "valley speak"? I have a character who talks like a high school mallrat and uses "like" in her dialog.

    "Stop being, like, such a nerd." "Shut your mouth before I, like, shut it for you."

    I've read this word without the commas in similar contexts, but in this case, I see it as an interjection, like "oh" or "you know." Should I surround the word with commas?
     
  2. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    When "too" comes at the end of a sentence, I believe it is now acceptable to leave out the comma. If "like" is being used as in interjection, I'd probably use commas, but then again, I like it without. "Shut your mouth before I like shut it for you."
     
  3. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that for valley speak or for Vicky Pollard / Lauren Cooper type characters non-standard punctuation (ie, practically no punctuation at all) can be used in dialogue to show the way what they're saying pours out as a sort of stream of consciousness. Not for long though, because it would get tiring (just like the real thing).
     
  4. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I do not write the way I speak.
    I keep my spoken language separate from my written one.
    It is easier then having to think about punctuation because when we speak we do not punctuate.
     
  5. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I believe it's optional to use a comma with both. If you intend for there to be a pause though, I would use the commas with both "like" and "too." If not, omit the commas. I will say that with "like," especially if it is a word your character uses often, you may consider omitting the commas regardless of the pause. It's totally up to you, but if every sentence of dialogue was plastered with one or more ", like," I could see it becoming not quite an eyesore, but definitely something that stands out.
     
  6. serenaastbury
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    serenaastbury New Member

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    For "either" and "too," the meaning is perfectly clear (even at the beginning/end of a sentence) without a comma. For the word "like," it appears confusing without the commas, so I would leave them in. Commas are tricky - everyone seems to follow their own rules :)
     
  7. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Thanks for the answers, everyone. So I'll omit the commas around "like" and use commas around the other words as I think is fitting. I wish I could use the commas around "like" just to remove ambiguity, but if it pauses the sentence, I'll take them out. I'll leave them in when, as serenaastbury said, it appears confusing. Or I'll rephrase or put "like" elsewhere.
     
  8. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Just a thought, you may try italicizing it (i.e., "Stop being like such a nerd." "Shut your mouth before I like shut it for you."). May give you the extra emphasis on the word and make it stand out without commas.
     
  9. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    it's an idea, but wouldn't the reader emphasize that in their heads? The tonal variance would sound weird and the reader would pause to wonder why the character is stressing that word all the time. Besides, there are enough forced reasons to italicize (titles, sounds, foreign words, etc.) that I could do without another reason.
     
  10. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Yea, that's true, though most of the folks I've met who use "like" in that way do sort of stress the word in a way that makes it stand out. Of course, they usually make it doubly or more redundant, too (i.e., "Stop being like, you know, such a nerd."). But yea, was just a thought.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    NO!... do not italicize it...
    this is the way that works best and reads most clearly...
     

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