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Spelling & Punctuation - Writing

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Capitalization, Hyphenation & Dashes... 


Mistakes in capitalization are relevant, so review this topic. The most common mistake I keep seeing is 'English.' Languages (I speak English), nationalities (I'm Spanish), like days of the week (Last Monday we visited Pixie), months (I'll see you in October then), NOT school subjects anymore (except languages; e.g. I have a degree in biology from The University of Málaga), and the first letter in words in titles (except articles and prepositions; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) — unlike what happens in Spanish nowadays (Las aventuras de Alicia en el país de las maravillas) — are capitalized in English!


Don't you ever hyphate at the end of the line, unless the word has a hyphen (a six-/year-/old child) or it's a compound (blackboard - black-/board). Hyphenating in English is complicated, and people avoid it. You may also look pedantic! And anyway, words in English are not that long, right? Avoid it!

As you probably know, there are many words in English which were written with a hyphen and then became just one word. This is happening all the time, so sometimes it is hard to keep updated! Here are some tips:

- General idea: modern English tends to avoid hyphenation in general, showing a preference for 'schoolbag' or 'website' rather than 'school-bag' or 'web-site', and for 'web page' rather than 'web-page.' Additionally, there is a tendency for the form to be one word in US English and two words in British English

.- Compound adjectives (groups of words modifying a noun) are usually hyphenated:'a sugar-free softdrink,' 'a well-known actress.'

- When we use words as noun modifiers, we use their singular form and hyphenate them: 'a six-year-old child' but 'The child is six years old.'

More... Oxford explains it here external link hyphenating words and words at the end of a line

  TP Poscards


The use of the dash (—), or em dash. The en dash is the hyphen — it is shorter.

The use of the dash is for something we want to add to a message to develop, expand or exemplify what we just wrote, like I did above when I wrote 'The en dash is the hyphen — it is shorter.' After the dash I was clarifying the meaning of 'the hyphen'. This in Spanish is introduced by a colon (:) when we wish to develop or expand an idea, and it appears in brackets or between commas if we just want to give an example.

In informal writing, though, dashes may replace commas, semicolons, colons, and brackets/parentheses to indicate added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought.

How you place it is not like in Spanish. In English, unless the interruption coming from what the dash introduces ends in a full stop (UK)/period (US), the dash needs to be at the same distance from what comes before or follows. In Spanish the long dash is always next to the text between the two dashes.

English: blah blah blah — blah blah — blah blah blah
Spanish: blablabla —blabla— blablabla
English: blah blah blah — blah blah.
Spanish: blablabla —blabla—. (Unless it's the end of a paragraph.)

Incidentally, semicolons are not very frequent in English. The dash plays a role here!