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We're replacing our old English Style Guide with new Punctuation and Grammar Rules!

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with these, as they are what we will be using in our job reviews for all into English language pairs from now on.

This is just the beta version, and we’d love to hear your feedback! Is anything unclear? Did we leave something out? Add your thoughts below.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

your >EN team

13 comments

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    naphkerr

    In the new Punctuation and Grammar Rules, from the section 'Who/That/Which":

    "Example: I do not trust products that claim 'all natural ingredients' because this phrase can mean almost anything."

     

    In my personal opinion, the sentence above is missing a comma, and should be written as follows:

     I do not trust products that claim 'all natural ingredients', because this phrase can mean almost anything.

     

    There are two types of because sentences, which have two different meanings:

    He shouldn't have left, because he was angry. means: "the reason being..."

    He shouldn't have left because he was angry. means: "for this reason, and not another"

     

    We can see that the example sentence (I do not trust products that claim 'all natural ingredients' because this phrase can mean almost anything.) belongs to the first type, and needs a comma. I don't know if others have differing views on this, but it is my opinion that it should be revised, or a sentence with a different structure should be chosen.

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    JoeQ
    Might be worth adding an item in the Apostrophes section regarding their use, and the use of the letter s, when referring to the plural in abbreviations, acronyms, etc. For example: the 1960s and the '60s are correct, but the 1960's is possessive, not plural. This also would apply when forming the plural of acronyms. For example, the term Exhange Traded Funds would be abbreviated as ETFs rather than ETF's.
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    Ulrike Anderson

    Great comments! Keep 'em coming.

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    mistymikes

    I've always wondered what style guide I should default to if a question isn't covered by Gengo's style guide, since some things vary depending on who you ask.  Personally, if I have a question not covered by the Gengo style guide, I consult the "Little, Brown Handbook," because it's what I have on hand.  However, if I had word from Gengo that they preferred a different resource, I would use that to ensure consistency. 

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    Ulrike Anderson

    A great question!

    There are so many style guides out there that it can be hard decide which one to use. I'd say, if you're familiar with the Little Brown Handbook, use that for anything not specifically outlined in Gengo's resources or the customer's comments.

    The only other two things to remember are that 1) Gengo's default is US English and 2) whichever style guide you choose, be consistent in its application. 

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    t.kenyon
    I agree with the above poster on the that / which example. I think something a little clearer is needed.
    I'm not even sure that on modern usage the that / which distinction is so relevant anyhow - I think comma usage conveys the meaning rather than the choice of pronoun.
    The rest of the guide is looking good though!
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    JETrans26

    Does Gengo have an opinion on whether or not one should use the "Oxford comma"?

     

    "Meat, potatoes, and rice" as opposed to "Meat, potatoes and rice".

     

    My preference is generally to use it rather than not, so I'd appreciate it if I knew your position on this matter.

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    naphkerr

    RE: oxford comma: I don't think it is a matter of preference, I think the comma needs to be there when there is potential ambiguity, and otherwise does not need to be included. Examples:

    (1) I went to Naples, Verona and Rome. (three items)

    (2a) I went to the bar and saw my friends, the owner and his wife. (two items (people seen))

    (2b) I went to the bar and saw my friends, the owner, and his wife. (three items: one group and two additional people seen)

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    Ulrike Anderson

    Hi JETrans26,

    To answer your question, the Oxford comma was required in the old style guide, but since that "rule" was being largely ignored (and the Oxford comma being a hotly debated topic overall), we decided to leave its use up to the translator (or customer). The only thing we ask is that you be consistent within any given text. 

     

    nkerr2 makes an excellent point as well. While the Oxford comma may not currently be a "required" item, in instances where it is necessary for clarity (as in the examples above), it should definitely be used.

     

    Keep the great comments coming! Every single one helps make the new Grammar and Punctuation Rules more relevant and useful to you, our great translators.

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    mistymikes

    For my two cents, I think it's good that Gengo is leaving it up to the translators now, since the standard usage varies by industry.  Previously, I was using the Oxford comma universally, according to the Gengo style guide, but it's nice to have some autonomy with that.  For example, as I understand it, you generally wouldn't use the Oxford comma for a newspaper or magazine article (which we do have in my language pair occasionally).  

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    Natalia Manidis

    Hi guys, thought you might enjoy this TED talk on the Oxford comma: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/grammar-s-great-divide-the-oxford-comma-ted-ed

    Personally, I like the rule of consistency :)

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    robinsugiura

    The comma section needs some additions. Here are some comments I have given a number of translators regarding comma mistakes: 

    (1) Commas should not be used before prepositional phrases unless they are needed for clarity. 
     
    Incorrect (actual example): Components have cracks in them, in the portion where they connect (mainly on the left side where the [[[power diode]]] is).
     
    (Another actual example): After the product arrives in Japan, we clean it, wrap it in plastic together with a warranty card and manual written in Japanese, and package it, before shipping it to the customer.  
    This sentence has an abundance of commas. All but one are correct. After the product arrives in Japan, we <-- after this prepositional phrase the subject changes, so the comma is needed for clarity clean it, wrap it in plastic together with a warranty card and manual written in Japanese, and <-- this serial comma is correct here (and the previous ones) as part of a list (see below for more on serial commas) package it, before <--this one is unnecessary shipping it to the customer.   
     
     
    (2) Commas should be used before a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) only when it connects two complete/independent clauses, not between conjoined verb phrases or conjoined noun phrases: 
    *Correct: "subject predicate, and subject predicate" (I ordered the pasta, and she ordered a sandwich.) 
    *Incorrect: "subject verb phrase, and verb phrase" (I ate pasta, and drank a glass of wine.)
    *Incorrect: "Subject verb noun phrase, and noun phrase" (I went shopping at the grocery store across the street from the mall while I was there, and the vegetable stand down the street to buy tomatoes.) 
    **There are two exception to this, (a) when it is a serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma (I bought apples, bananas, and grapes.), and (b) when the second noun phrase is a parenthetical (I am thinking about getting a cat, or a dog if it isn't too big, when I move.). 
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    Ulrike Anderson

    Thanks, robinsugiura! This is very helpful.

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