3) Literacy Lessons

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Athene Perthro

Well-Known Member
Literacy Lessons

I won't pretend to be excellent at grammar, but here are a few errors I see often in roleplays. Try and avoid making them, if possible.

The Comma

Hands down, with the race not even close, the most outrageously abused internal punctuation is the comma. Some writers will use commas almost as accent décor for the sentence, tossing them here and there with no consistency, no purpose and no plan except that it seems to 'look' good there. Commas are correctly used in specific situations within the sentence, and while the result of the comma's presence is a pause in the flow of the text, it is not the function of the comma to create an aesthetically pleasing rhythm. The following is not, by any means a comprehensive listing of comma use, but does address common situations where the comma can be used effectively.

1. Address - Use a comma to set off the name of a person in a direct address. Let me introduce you to your new neighbor, Mr. Brown.

2. Mild exclamations- Use after an interjection when the emotion is not strong. Oh, was that your sister?

3. In addresses- Use a comma to separate parts of an address. The letter was addressed to Angela at her mother's address, 44 Edward St, Oshawa, Ontario L1H 4P9, Canada

4. Series- Use commas to separate items in a series. Brian received passing marks in physics, mathematics, French and biology. (The final comma used before the conjunction is currently considered optional and consistency is the important element.)

5. Clarify meaning of a sentence- Use a comma when a short clause changes the meaning of a sentence. He didn't say that, did he?

6. Parenthetical expressions- set off words not necessary to meaning of a sentence. Children's books, such as the Harry Potter series, have increased in sales over the past five years.

7. Appositive expressions- set apart words that explain a word they follow. Adam, who lives next door, is in the same year as my sister.

8. Restrictive clauses and phrases- Words not necessary to the meaning of a sentence. The roof, which is twenty years old, has begun to leak. DO NOT use commas if the restrictive clause or phrase is necessary to the meaning. A room that leaks needs immediate repair.

9. Introductory word groups- Use commas to set aside introductory clauses, participial phrases and prepositional phrases.

10. With conjunctions- Use a comma with a conjunction to combine two complete sentences. My bicycle has a flat tire, and I don't know how to fix it.

11. Formatting letters- Use a comma to format letters such as: Dear Kim, Sincerely yours,

12. In quotations- Commas are used to separate quoted words from the identification of the speaker and should be framed within the quotation marks. "Don't get mud on the carpet," my mother warned.

Misused Words
This list was compiled by the Oregon Press Women, Inc.

Do not use this to mean "more than."

To affect is to influence
To effect is to produce (as in "he effected a change in policy")
As a noun 'effect' means result

Use when more than two is meant (I split the cost among the five of us)
For two, use 'between' (She split the last piece of cake between the two of them.)

Do not confuse with "value"
To appreciate is to appraise accurately or value justly

Avert vs. Avoid
To avert is to ward off (Harry averted the hex thrown by Malfoy.)
To avoid is to shun (Hermione avoided meeting Ron's eyes.)

Beside vs. Besides
Beside means by the side of (I was standing beside Harry's desk.)
Besides means in addition to (Besides the Potion's essay due tomorrow, there is still the Transfiguration test I have to study for.)

Capital vs. Capitol
The capital is Salem/Washington D.C.
The capitol is the building

Compare to vs. Compare with
Things of the same class are compared with each other
Things of different classes are compared to each other

Continual vs. Continuous
A continual action recurs or is constantly renewed
A continuous action is unbroken from beginning to end

Different from
Never use "than" after "different"

Implies duration
Implies within the limits of

Refers to not as many items
Use with items that can be counted
"Less" is used with measured amounts

Do not use where "after" is meant

Imply vs. Infer
Imply means to suggest (Are you implying that I hexed you on purpose?)
Infer means to draw a conclusion from someone else's suggestion (After listening to your comments, I can infer that you are guilty.)

Majority vs. Plurality
A majority is one more than half
A plurality is the greatest number of votes, but not a majority

Neither vs. None
Neither is correct only when referring to one of two
If there are more than two, use none
Both neither and none take a singular verb

Do not use to mean "more than"
Over means above (Peeves is flying over your head.)
More than means in excess of (There is more than enough brooms to go around.)

People vs. Persons
Use people to refer to populations, races, large groups. (The people of the Muggle world are clueless.)
Use persons to refer to individuals (Which persons were responsible for hexing Neville?)

Spell Check

Download Firefox

You should always use spell check to check over your roleplays. I highly recommend downloading the newest version of Firefox, which is free to download. (See link above.)
It has an inbuilt spell checker, which I find very useful. It also loads pages faster, and is in my opinion superior to Internet Explorer, though my opinion may be bias :p .
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