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  1. Adam Matlow

    Adam Matlow New Member

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    Grammar Question in the middle of a sentence

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Adam Matlow, Dec 12, 2016.

    I'm writing some dialogue and have come across something I'm not sure about. The character has already been told the name of the girl in the sentence: 'Jenny', but he's repeating her name by way of confirmation. That may be explained badly, so I'll offer an example:

    "He's been desperate to find you and the girl, Jenny was it? Even more so."

    Or should it be:

    "He's been desperate to find you and the girl, Jenny was it; even more so."

    Or perhaps:

    "He's been desperate to find you and the girl, (Jenny was it?), even more so."

    "Jenny was it?" is the question I want to ask, but it's part of the sentence that I don't want to break. Of course, I could re-write this sentence to get around that problem, but I thought it would be good to know for future reference.
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'd go with:

    He's been desperate to find you and the girl--Jenny, was it?--even more so.

    Except, I don't understand what "even more so" refers to.

    If you mean that he's extra desperate to find Jenny, I feel that that isn't clear. I tweak:

    He's been desperate to find you. And the girl--Jenny, was it?--is an even higher priority for him.
     
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  3. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I normally do a medium dash on each end – what are those called again? – instead of a pair of short ones.

     
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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  5. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    That's probably a personal preference — I don't think I've even seen en/em dashes except in Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes canon — but it's always best to try a new writing style just in case you like it.

    I, for example, now know that the en dashes I've been using – these – look better to me than the full em dashes I just tried last time.
     
  6. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

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    I agree halfway with @ChickenFreak. This punctuation of the embedded question:
    However, the suggestion of changing "even more so" to "is an even higher priority for him" sounds a little clunky to me.

    What about adding a comma to ChickenFreak's suggestion?

    He's been desperate to find you, <comma, because it's hard to see> and the girl--Jenny, was it?--even more so.
     
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  7. SethLoki

    SethLoki Retired Autodidact Contributor

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    No authority here but I have it committed to memory:

    hyphens = up close and intimate for compounding nouns/adjectives
    ens = to indicate a range. Like: Thurs – Sat
    ems = parenthetical. I use them for insertions into speech mainly, or connected afterthoughts in dialogue
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
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  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I agree that it should be ems, and agree that the sentence as originally written isn't too clear with the "even more so". Could it just be moved?

    "He's been desperate to find you. Even more so the girl—Jenny, was it?"

    I don't know... I don't think "Even more so" is in my vernacular, so I'm not sure how it should be used, but I definitely stumbled over the original.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    The 'even more so' isn't clear. It might be if we saw the entire context. However, I would agree that an m-dash is what's needed. That indicates a breaking away from the original sentence, or an interruption of the original thought. With an m-dash, the first part reads smoothly. However, it's hard to know what to do with the 'even more so,' because what you're trying to say isn't clear from the context we've been given.

    Just as it stands, I'd go with: "He's been desperate to find you and the girl—Jenny was it?" And let you figure out how to work in the 'even more so' bit.
     
  10. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    Ambiguity happens in dialogue, so perhaps in context it's clear whether
    1. He's desperate to find you and even more desperate to find Jenny, or
    2. He's desperate to find you, and Jenny is even more desperate to do so.
    These are desperately disparate meanings, to be sure.
     
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  11. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    This is my understanding as well.

    And for anyone who wants to put an em-dash into a post here:
    • hold down the Alt key (no idea what that is on a Mac), and
    • on the keypad (not the numbers row at the top of the keyboard) type: 151
    This method works in MS Word and likely any other place you wanna put an em-dash... assuming you're using Windows. For Mac or Linux, I'm not sure, but it's worth a try.
     
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  12. SethLoki

    SethLoki Retired Autodidact Contributor

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    alt + hypen on a mac = en dash
    alt + shift + hyphen = em dash

    – — ta dar


    E.T.A. If you don't want to remember the alt-151 business on a PC you can double hyphen, then do a search and replace in the final edit. -- = —
     
  13. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Yes. I haven't been able to get that to work online, though. And now—because I wanted to pound it into my brain—I'm in the habit of doing it everywhere, especially when editing. :)
     
  14. Adam Matlow

    Adam Matlow New Member

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    Number one is the thing I'm going for. Thanks for all the advice, I reckon this is the way forward for me:

    Like I said, I am happy to re-write the sentence to get around this issue, but I was just curious if there was an accepted convention regarding things like that, just in case I come across something like this again in the future.

    ;)
     
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