How to English Good
Well, I’ve noticed that people English terribly in their translations sometimes.
So, this is a guide to improve on English if you plan to write a story, translate, edit, etc.
THIS IS STILL A WORK-IN-PROGRESS! IF YOU WISH TO CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING, CONTACT ME @LysUltima IN THE SITE’S DISCORD.
Grammar of Basic
Yes, this is where most fail when doing translations.
Most of us translators are native English speakers, (or have been speaking the language for a d*mn long time) so have grown complacent in our grammar usage.
In fact, thinking you know how to English simply because of the fact that you are native only serves to prove my point.
Unless you edit professionally or have read this article before, I need to tell you one thing.
You suck. Your grammar sucks.
Look, you may be a university student, but I bet you can’t tell me what a semicolon is used for. Go on, I’ve even provided a box for you to write your definition in.
And here is the actual usage of a semicolon:
Without going into too much detail, it is a replacement for a comma plus a conjunction with the conjunction being implied. There is another usage when a list’s items use commas, but it’s quite rare.
*Go here for more on semicolons.
Did that not match up with what you wrote?
If you answered yes, you are now qualified as a human… Haha, just kidding.
But really, this is basic English. If you answered no, my friend, then you need to read the rest of this article.
Well, let’s start.
In basic grammar, there is something called a comma. I do hope you know what it is.
Really, if you don’t I highly doubt you can even read this article.
Anyways, there is a magical thing called a comma. It’s located just below the “K” and “L” key on your keyboard and next to the “M” and “.” keys. (unless you’re one of those people who don’t use a QWERTY layout)
Now, I’m sure you know what is a comma. It separates things in a list. It indicates a break in the words.
Yet, when should we properly use this is writing?
You might think you know, but you are most probably wrong.
As there are articles already out there, this will only explain the often-missed things to do with commas.
First, commas, or any punctuation really, goes inside of a “quote like this.”
Punctuation, which “commas are part of,” go inside of a quote.
Now, let’s continue.
The most misuse of commas I’ve seen happen in separating a dependent clause.
If you still remember middle school English class, then you
are a god have excellent memory or are in middle school yourself.
Anyways, a dependent clause is a clause that depends on another clause to get meaning.
Here’s some examples.
When I left for work
Because I’m small
Though I eat too much
As he was eating his food
These are all dependent clauses, or can be dependent clauses.
Dependent clauses cannot be sentences by themselves, though they can have a subject (noun) and a predicate. (verb) They must be paired up with an independent sentence.
When I left for work, it was already too late.
I wanted to be big because I’m small.
I’m quite thin, though I eat too much.
He tapped his foot, as he was eating his food, to the tune in the background.
As we’re currently talking about comma usage, I hope you’ve been paying attention to the comma placement?
Anyways, it seems a bit complicated.
But, don’t worry! It’s actually simple.
When a dependent clause is at the start of a sentence, like this one, a comma separates it from the independent clause.
No comma separates the two clauses when the dependent clause is at the end of the sentence.
Two commas must, when the dependent clause is in the middle of the independent one, surround the dependent clause.
There are some exceptions to this, however.
Any word used similarly to “but” will need a comma when at the end of a sentence, though it may not be a conjunction like “but.”
By similar to “but,” I mean words like:
- While (when used comparatively, not when synonymous to “as”)
Lastly, for commonly missed things, are non-essential phrases.
Non-essential phrases are non-essential. i.e. you could remove them completely and the sentence would still make sense. These are similar to dependent clauses.
It’s hard to explain, so here are some examples. (non-essential phrases are bolded)
I, the great and almighty Lys, am too awesome.
Making everyone jealous, Lys leveled up 100 times.
Lys, who was too awesome, killed a dragon in one shot.
Luckily, Lys arrived just in time.
As Lys saved the people, he continued to be beautiful, smiling his beautiful smile all the while.
“F*ck me!” cried an angry male, clearly jealous at Lys’ awesomeness.
Lys used his 100% OHKO lazer beam, which was too cool.
These are examples of non-essential clauses. They have comma rules that are the same with dependent clauses, but they always have a comma separating them from the rest of the sentence when at the end of one.
Note, the following have no non-essential clauses.
The males who were jealous of Lys are quite stupid.
A sword that can strike no man is useless.
In the first example, it can be a non-essential clause, but that would change the meaning from “Only the males who were jealous of Lys are quite stupid” to “The males and all males are jealous of Lys are quite stupid.” It may be confusing, but to sum it up simply, if your meaning is to limit the noun being modified to ones that/who do something, it is an essential clause. If your meaning is to define the noun being modified, it is non-essential. Also, a phrase that follows “that” or in which “that” is implied or can be replaced with is never a non-essential phrase.
Now, all this dependent clause talk brings up another common mistake.
How Do I Connect Independent Clauses, What Do I Need?
An independent clause is something that has a subject (who or what’s doing the action) and a predicate (what the subject’s doing) but is not a dependent clause.
All you need to do to connect them is to add a comma and a conjunction. A conjunction is one of these seven words:
Comma. Conjunction. Not so hard, is it?
There’s also the additional option of using a semicolon as discussed earlier; that’s fine too.
That/Which Vs Who
I can’t even come up with a good title for this one since it’s so simple.
“That”/”Which” is used to describe things, while “who” is used to describe people and people only. By using “that” to modify a noun that is a person, you are basically saying the person is not a person but a thing.
More On; Semicolons
Semicolons, the most confusing punctuation.
They have two main uses:
- Replacing a comma and a conjunction
- Replacing a comma in a list
When using semicolons to replace a comma and a conjunction, it must be clear on what conjunction you are implying; it’s bad to get a wrong meaning across.
Note that semicolons usually imply “for” and “and,” with it implying “for” being more common.
You can only use a semicolon to replace a comma in a list when the list’s items have a comma in it. For example, take this list: Jan. 1, 1919 / Feb. 2, 1920 / Mar. 3, 1921 / Apr. 4, 1922 (list items are separated by a slash)
Normally, the list would be separated using commas, but the list items themselves have commas, making it confusing if commas were to be used. (Jan. 1, 1919, Feb. 2, 1920, Mar. 3, 1921, Apr. 4, 1922)
When this is the case, semicolons should be used instead of the normal comma to separate list items. (Jan. 1, 1919; Feb. 2, 1920; Mar. 3, 1921; Apr. 4, 1922)
Examples of semicolon usage:
Colons are different from semicolons; they don’t have a comma in them.
He turned to look at me, showing his face; it was ugly.
Making examples is hard; you have to think of how to use a grammar structure, which can sometimes be difficult.
Give me my free time back; I deserve it!
When translating, keep in mind that EVERYTHING but thoughts and dialogue should be in past tense.
Hah, I lied. There are rare cases where you use present tense, specifically when the verb is has been done and will still be doing. Basically, if you can add the adjective “normally” and it makes sense or if it’s a fact that still remains true at the time in which it is written, use the present tense.
I live in this house.
I am Lys.
I eat here.
‘Always use single quotes’
Stop. Just fucking stop. If you live in America, never use a single quote unless within a double quote. Double quotes are great, and you need to be using them. If you don’t live in America, use whatever the fuck you want.
HOW TO NOT USE SINGLE QUOTES (USE DOUBLE QUOTES INSTEAD):
I hate my ‘life.’ If you could even call it one.
He thought, ‘I wish I was a better person.’
‘I’m gonna fuck this girl.’
You know what they say, ‘An apple a day makes you sick of apples.’
On this thought, stop using single quotes to denote thoughts. The English language has better ways of representing a thought, and I’ve only seen the single quotes denoting thoughts in Chinese translations. Most published works use one of three things:
Boward Woward thought, “I wish I had a better name.”
I wish I had a better name.
Boward Woward wished that he had a better name.
Note that none of these use confusing single quotes, which often completely replace double quotes for speech/other functions.
There is only one case that you’d use a single quote, and that is within a double quote.
“I want to read ‘My Pet Is a Holy Maiden.’ I’ve heard it’s very good.”
I replied, “No, don’t fire your so-called ‘GIGANT LAZORRR OF DEATHH 30000.'”
Please stop or become a British.