1. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Two questions about sentence structure.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Shadow Dragon, Oct 17, 2008.

    Ok, so as the title implies I have a couple questions to ask. First off is this sentence a fragment:

    As for the second question; Are sentence fragments ok to use in dialogue? I guess that it should be since people don't always talk in full sentences.
     
  2. Scarlett_156
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    Scarlett_156 Active Member

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    The answer to the first question is "no" and the answer to the second is "yes". How else would your dialog be realistic if it didn't mirror the way people actually talk? (Unless you are writing a philosophical object-lesson, of course.) yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  3. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    “His hair (subject), black as a night on the new moon (adjective), went (verb) down to his waist (object)”


    No, your quote is not a fragment. Just remember that sentence fragments are a jolt: they need to be in context, and should be there for a reason, such as to emphasize something.
     
  4. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    Scarlett is right too: dialogue should seem realistic. Somewhat. Sort of.
     
  5. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks. I didn't think the first one was a fragment, but for some reason microsoft word thought it was.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have no idea how MS parsed that as a fragment. It definitely has something to do with the parenthetical phrase (black as a night on the new moon), because if you remove it, MSWord stops complaining. But the original sentence is correct and complete.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and fragments are not just ok to use in dialog... judicious use of them also makes your narrative reader-friendly...
     
  8. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Because MS Word is stupid when it comes to fragments. It is easy to confuse.
     
  9. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    So, is it decided that fragments are ok (within reason - although what that reason is probably eludes me too)?
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fragments are essential in dialogue. We don't talk in full sentences. Used properly, they're also fine in narrative sometimes. Once a creative writer has mastered the rules of grammer, it is perfectly okay to break them on occassion.
     
  11. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    I suspect Word's spaz attack might be brought on by the missing "as." If we're being ultra-orthodox, the sentence should read, "His hair, as black as night, went to his waist."
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Machine parsing of natural language, even well-formed sentences, is a very complicated matter that depends on the parser "understanding" some of the semantics (meaning) of the words used, in order to disambiguate alternatives.

    In formal language theory terms, natural languages are context-sensitive grammars, and the time required to parse valid sentential forms may in some cases be unbounded.

    I find it impressive that Word manages as well as it does with grammar analysis.
     
  13. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Agreed. Unfortunately, it's wrong often enough that I tend to turn it off and rely on proofreaders instead. :)
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Oh I leave it on. If it finds something legitimate, I correct it, otherwise I ignore it.

    As with spellchecking, I take a "belt and suspenders" approach. Let the tool find what it will, and correct it if it's a valid hit. Then do a proofread to catch what my human mind can pick up. There will still be mistakes, but hopefully relatively few of them by that time.
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Therein lies the crux of the matter which Rei has so excellently stated. Random errors and bad grammar will appear as just that, random errors.

    In Miéville's Bas Lag series, there are characters known as Remade. These are individuals who, for punitive reasons, have had their bodies altered in grotesque ways. They live as slaves to the state.

    There is a renegade group of Remade who live as bandits and call themselves fRemade. Mieville writes their name just as I have presented it, lower case f followed by upper case R.

    This goes against all rules of capitalization which are considered correct, but in his books it makes for an effective presentation of how these individuals think of themselves. This effect would never work if the novel were simply filled with spelling errors. Mastery first, artistic license after.
     
  16. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Myself, I can't write with those doggone little green lines under everything. Drives me right up the wall.

    Quoted for truthiness.
     

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