Punctuation Errors You Need to Stop Doing Now

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We have all seen funny photos and quotes on Facebook, where the absence of commas make the sentence, well… ridiculous. ”We are going to learn to cut and paste children.” Don’t worry, no one is cutting children, and I am not preaching violence. This sentence, even though in a creepy way, illustrates how bad the misuse of comma is. It is not only commas, all the components of punctuation have a function and they do make difference. We certainly do not want you to cut and paste children, and make a fool of yourself, so let’s go over some of the punctuation errors that you should be avoiding.

  1. Ugh, these commas

Since we have started with commas, let’s continue with them, shall we? It does not matter whether English is your native language, or your second, third or 100th one, you will make a comma mistake. There are generally two types of comma-error-people, those who don’t use commas, and those who overuse. It is hard to say which one is worse and I am not here to judge, so ladies and gentlemen, here are comma rules that you must know.

  • Always use a comma between all items in a series
    e.g. I bought a new book, a pen, couple of highlighters, and colorful stickers.
  • Gotta separate those independent clauses
    Don’t mind my slang for a moment. Suppose you are using conjunctions (and, or, but, etc.) in your sentence. Use a comma to separate the clauses if and only if they are two complete ideas.
    USE: Jerry went to watch a movie with his friend, and then they had dinner.
    Do NOT use: I need to copy and paste this whole article.
  • Introductory phrase comma, introductory phrase comma, introductory phrase comma
    I’m sorry I made you read it three times, I just want to make sure that it’s stuck in your head. A comma has to follow introductory and/or transition verbs .
    e.g. However, I still believe that aliens do exist.
    As a matter of fact, I used to be very bad at punctuation.
  • Commas after relative pronouns
    Now, I have to accept that this rule is a little tricky, so I want to ask you to be a little more attentive. Use a comma before a relative pronoun if the information afterward is not so necessary. That is to say, the sentence would have made sense without it.
    USE: Albert Einstein, who was a great physicist, came up with the theory of relativity.
    The girl who is standing in front of the mirror is my sister. HOWEVER, if you skip the pronoun who in the second sentence, you have to use a comma.
    The girl, standing in front of the mirror, is my sister.
  • With quotation comes a comma
    This is an easy one, you just need to put a comma before you start a quotation.
    e.g. Tom said, ” I can’t wait anymore, I have to leave.”Speaking of quotation marks, there is something to keep in mind: commas, periods, question marks and exclamation marks always go inside the quotation.
  • Use commas with dates, addresses, and titles
    e.g. On July 28, 1914 World War I started.
    Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, U.S.
    William Gardner, Ph.D, teaches teaches Law at Harvard.
  • Oxford comma: yes or no?
    Hmm, tough question. Some style guides say that it is mandatory to use comma before and, some say no. Currently, pro-oxford-comma people seem to be winning. I suggest using the Oxford comma because there is a logical pause at the end of listing words.
  1. The wrong apostrophe

It’s is not its and your’s is not yours. You will be surprised to find out how unprofessional this error makes you look. The rules of using an apostrophe are very simple. Go grab a paper and a pen, because I am going to teach you the basics.

  • Indicates possession
    You learned this in elementary school, I am sure you recall that to form a possessive noun, you have to add ” ‘s ” at the end of the noun (e.g. boy’s, toy’s, my father’s, etc.). There are a few exceptions so let me go over them real quick. If the noun ends with an s or it is already plural like games, then you can just add the apostrophe (e.g. My friends’ families like me).
  • To shorten words or phrases
    This rule basically refers to auxiliary verbs. Instead of writing do not, you can write don’t, is not – isn’t, will not – won’t, he is – he’s, and so on. Please, do NOT ever confuse it’s and its, they mean different things: its is the possessive form of it and it’s stands for it is. I know your spell check wants to correct you and that red line gets on your nerves but hey, there is the ignore button. You are smarter than your computer and you are well aware of the rule, so don’t let that piece of machine mislead you.

Common mistake: A lot of people mix these two rules together and use apostrophe, to change pronouns into a possessive form. Let’s all make a pact that from now on you are going to remember that yours, his, hers do NOT require ” ‘ ” to indicate possession.

What is deal with the semicolon?

Maybe a weird combination of a comma and a period that does not make any sense? No, semicolon IS important and you need to learn how to correctly use it. Just like the symbol, it is a combination of a comma and a period. We use commas for pauses and periods to end a sentence. There you go, that is a hint for you. Semicolon is a little more powerful than the comma and not exactly like a period. You should use it in between two clauses, which have different ideas but are too related to be in separate sentences.
E.g. My supervisor assigned me a hard task; I had to stay up late to complete it.

See, it is quite simple once you follow the examples. One last piece of advice – follow your mental grammar. Read what you have written out loud and you will literally sense what kind of punctuation you need. I hope you found this useful, and you will never copy and paste children.

QuicklyTranslate offers grammar tips

 

Translation: the fine combination of science and art

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More often than not, translation is viewed as a job that provides no space to unleash creativity. People perceive translators as specialists, who sit in front of computers for hours and merely replace the words of one language with another. Right now and right here, we are going to take a red pan and put a huge red cross on this thought. Translation is a unique profession, not only does it require ‘’scientific’’ knowledge, but also grants the opportunity to be creative while writing and composing. Thus, transforming the process of translating into making art. This might come off a little romantic and emotional, but it is not acceptable to undervalue translation and label it as a monotonous work. Let me stop the sentimental statements here and present you points that make translation equally a science and an art.

 

Translation as a science

Just like any other profession, translation requires a good deal of relevant knowledge. If you belong to the group of people who believe that being bilingual automatically makes you a translator, then we might have a little disagreement. Bilinguals do not have to know two languages perfectly, from A to Z. They can have limited vocabulary and not be aware of complicated grammatical structures but still manage to hold conversations and write in an amateur way. Translators, on the other hand, are the zealots of the languages they know. Ask them to translate a word and they will give you the synonyms, antonyms, common expressions and idioms that can be used instead. Just like a chemist knows the periodical table or a botanist, the tree structure, translators know the language. Actually, ‘’know’’ is a weak word to describe translators, to be more precise, they feel the language. What is it, if not a science? Think of translation as chess. Chess does not require to be physically fit, yet it is a sport. The same applies to translation, it does not include numbers and formulas like most of the sciences but it is a science.

Translation as an art

Let’ s admit that we always say, ‘’art is a way to communicate.’ We go on by saying musicians express themselves through their music, artists through their paintings, actors through their performances’’- a little cheesy but it’s true. We, at least have to give credit to translators, because thanks to them we are capable of reaching out to the whole world. So, it is only fair to say that while we can’t express ourselves in all the languages, translators make it real for us. In such manner, translation falls into the category of art.

We already talked about the technical preparedness of translators, but it is not enough to translate a piece of text. Not all languages share common words, idioms or grammar rules. Just like in crafting, translators need to think and adjust words to achieve a worthy result. If you love poetry then you definitely are a translation-is-an-art person. Imagine translating a love sonnet with no sense of details, creativity or whatsoever. Bear word-by-word translation will not convey the beauty and the tone of the poem.

So what?

I hope I was successful in changing your mind and now you think of translation as a mixture of art and science. I am sure, at some point in your life, you have read a translated text. Do me a favor and the next time you read a translated piece, pay attention to how carefully, detail-oriented and flawless professional translations are. Appreciate the work of those who help you reach the globe in your native language.

QuicklyTranslate offers Translation Advice

How to Write an Email

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We live in a digitized world, texts have replaced human conversation, video calls work just fine for meetings and emails are the saviors when it comes formal letters. Let’s leave aside texts and calls for a moment, and concentrate on emails. A quick question – how many emails do you send daily? I, personally, send at least 20 or 25 emails a day. I am curious, how much time do you spend on each email? Unfortunately, I can’t hear your answer through the screen but on average, people spend around 5 to 10 minutes, or more depending on the length. No big deal, you may say, it is just an email, you write down your question, your statement or whatever it is, add a subject line and click send. That is right but it is not correct, it is not how you should send an email. In professional and educational world, people will form an opinion about you based on just your emails. So, you probably want to stick around to learn how to write an email that will make you look good.

Subject line

Do not ever skip the subject line, just don’t, please. Imagine you are writing to your professor who gets dozens of emails everyday and there you are sending him another one, with no clear indication of what it is about. Subject lines deserve a credit for simplifying your life: with descriptive subject lines, you can easily skim through your emails and find the one you need. This takes us to another question – How do I write a descriptive subject line? I promised, I’ll teach you how so here you go.

Make it brief – if you are writing to your boss to submit a report, your subject line should look like this:
‘’Report Submission, [date]’’

Or if it is an invitation to a workshop:

‘’Invitation to a seminar on Solar Energy’’

Use subject line shortcuts – here are some general shortcuts that will help the receiver know what to expect:

<AR> Action required

<EOM> End of message

<FYI> For your information

<NRN> No response needed

<TYVM> Thank you very much

<OT> Off topic

<F2F> Face to face

<MSR> Monthly status report

If any of these shortcuts apply to your message, add them at the end of your subject line. One last advice, write your subject line after the core message. That way, it’ll be easier for you to synthesize the main idea in the subject line.

Greetings

Also known as the struggle is real. I have a confession to make, before I have learned email etiquette, my search history was  bombarded by ‘’how I start an email?’’ To be fair, it is hard to figure out how to address the receiver. Generally speaking, there are two scenarios of writing an email 1) you know who you are writing to, 2) you don’t know who you are writing to. Don’t worry, I have got some suggestions for both cases.

Scenario #1 When you are writing to someone of a higher position that you know, it is always safe to start like this:

Dear Dr./Mr./Ms./Mrs./ Harrison,

Good morning/afternoon/evening,

Mr./Mrs./Ms. [first name],

Dear All,

As for casual emails, “Hello” is enough. Simple, right?

Scenario #2 When you are writing to someone of a higher position that you do not know, start with Dear Sir or Madam. You could use “To whom it may concern” as a last resort.

Content

Keep it concise and on topic, check your spelling and grammar, and watch your language. I need to elaborate on the last one. If you’re writing a formal email, use formal language: no emoticons, no exclamation marks and so on.

Closing

There are a lot of ways of finishing your email. Some people add their signature, some don’t. In any regard, choose a closing word like sincerely, best regards, best, frankly, etc. and stick to it. You could also write thank you if necessary. And don’t forget to add your name.

Best regards,

Xxx

Yay, you are an email expert!

Whether you are a student or an employee, emails are your best friend. I hope this article helped you learn how to treat your best friend.