英文写作指南——标点符号篇(下)

在指导留学文书的过程中,AADPS的陈欣老师常常发现学生们对于英文标点掌握得较弱。受到母语影响,不少学员都会下意识的把之前的写作习惯带入进来。虽然现代汉语的标点系统本身也是受到西方语言影响的,但中英文的标点规则还是有不少区别。除此之外,学术英文特有的语法结构和风格又使得标点的使用场景变得愈加复杂。考虑到这些,陈欣老师建议大家可以把本文作为一个起点,审视一下自己在平时使用英文标点的一些短板。毕竟俗话说“细节之处见真章”(the devil is in the detail),标点使用是最能够体现英文写作造诣的方面之一,用好它们是给招生官留下深刻印象的第一步。

逗号(comma)(续)

和中文不同的是,英语里往往用逗号而非引号来引出人物所说的话。引导的部分可以插入在句首、句中或句末。

Tom said, "I'll be back in two hours."
"Madam," responded Churchill, "you are unlikely to come into contact with either."
"That is most unfortunate," said Jack.

逗号还用来区分句子中突兀的部分,以避免产生误解。一些常见的例子有人称、排比句中的省略、反问和温和的感叹词。

"Our business, Ed, is to sell shoes."
The first train will arrive at 2 o'clock; the second, at 3 o'clock.
This is the right house, isn't it?
"Yes, I'll call him right away."

常见的双比较级并列也是用逗号来分隔开。

The less you smoke, the longer you'll live.
The more some people get, the less they are willing to give.

逗号被用来分断骑马字,避免给读者造成歧义。

To get through a tunnel will need to be dug.
To get through, a tunnel will need to be dug.
Down by twenty six members of the squad suddenly woke up.
Down by twenty, six members of the squad suddenly woke up.

逗号在称谓、日期、数字和地址中也有一些约定俗称的用法。对于称谓,逗号将职位与人名以及句子的剩余部分区分开。

Mr. Joe Smith, Executive Editor, signed for the package.

对于日期,逗号分隔开年份以及星期(如果出现的话),如Wednesday, January 7, 1998。对于一般数量,逗号作为千位分隔符,如5,430,000,000,但电话号码、地址、页码和年份则不在此例。对于地址,逗号分隔开城市和省/州,如Baltimore, Maryland。

分号(semicolon)

如前所述,分号比逗号更高一级,因此如果从句中已经有逗号或其他内部标点,则应该用分号来区分从句。对于成分完整的独立从句,但意义紧密关联的,使用分号来分隔。

Secretariat won the race; Lucky Stars finished the second.
I had planned to call London; however, the circuits were busy.

分号需要置于引号外。

We read "Ode to the West Wind"; we then discussed the poem in detail.

撇号(apostrophe)

撇号是英语所特有的标点,主要用于表示所有格和缩写。撇号的所有格仅适用于名词和不定代词,如Bill's braces和everyone's business。对于复数名词以s结尾的,仅用撇号本身即可,如dancers' rehearsal。对于单数名词以s结尾或不规则的复数名词,则使用通常的所有格形式,如Ellis's Diner和men's locker。对于集合名词或作为一个整体概念的名词词组,所有格加在最后一个单词后,如Executive Vice President's role和Mary and Bill's。如需要强调每个个体的所有,则所有格加在每个名词后,如Judy's and Rob's。

当体现字母、数字和单词本身的复数出现时,用撇号以示区分,字母、数字和单词用斜体,如p's、5's和with's。对于专有名词的复数,则可以省去撇号。

在学术写作(包含留学文书)时,为正式起见,一般要避免缩写。仅在引用人物原话时可以有限度的使用。

引号(quotation marks)

除开要注意句末标点是置于引号外还是引号内,引号的使用一般没有太多特殊之处。单引号在引文之内还要表示引用的情况下使用。

The class coordinator said that for next week we should "read the first two chapters of our 'In Flight' manual."

英文没有书名号。书名一般用斜体表示,但是书中的某一章或者简短的文学作品,如诗歌、短篇小说、散文和歌曲等,标题需用引号表示。

"Coulomb's law" is the first chapter in volume two of Gartenhaus's text, Physics: Basic Principles.

引号可以偶尔用来强调新发明的词语或者旧词新用,但是不建议用来讽刺。

We can designate as "low interactive" any software title that does not challenge learners to think.
Jack called to express his "appreciation" for all I had done.
Jack called to complain about the accusations of bias I raised with reporters.

引号还用来提示对外文词汇等的释义。

The name of the Greek Titan Prometheus means "forethought."

冒号(colon)

与汉语中的冒号用法不同,英语中的冒号并不用于引出直陈式的对话。在大多数情况下,英语的冒号前面是完整的句子,后面可以接说明性质的清单、描述、定义或解释。很有趣的一点是,如果冒号只针对后面的一句,这个句子首字母一般不用大写。但是如果冒号后面引出两句以上的说明,每一句的首字母都需要大写。

Molly has one theory: children's entertainment is made mostly by men.
There were two reasons for a drop in attendance at NBA games this season: First, there was no superstar to take the place of Michael Jordan. Second, fans were disillusioned about the misbehavior of several prominent players.

破折号(dash)

如前所述,破折号可以用于体现同位语或解释说明。除此之外,相对常见的用法还有体现重复性的结构和对话被打断。破折号前后不使用空格,对于不支持波折号的纯文本,一般连用三个连字符代替。

To me the vitality of the bird of paradise's mating display was---and continues to be---one of nature's most thrilling sights.
"It just sounded---" "I've got nothing to be mad at."

省略号(ellipsis)

省略号其实是在留学文书中经常用错的一个标点。事实上,老外一般偏向简单明快一针见血的沟通,所以我们中文省略号的大多数用法在英文里是不成立的。这一标点是如此的不常用,以至于在标准键盘上不能直接打出来,但是在现代的排版系统里面,会把三个连续的句号自动处理成省略号。

那么如何在英文里正确的使用省略号呢?最常见的两种用法其实是在需要引用文字,但不想全部保留原文时,或是在转述对话并表达说话人口吃或停顿时。值得注意的是,如果省略号用在句子的结尾,是不能替代句号的,这样就变成了连续的四个句号。与破折号不同,在独立使用省略号时两边都要空格。

"No," I said. I wanted to leave. "I ... I need to get some air."
When I left the seminary, I walked long and thought hard about what a former student of divinity might do.... My shoes wore out, my brain wore thin. I was stumped and not a little nervous about the course my life would take.

连字符(hyphen)

其实连字一般并不需要连字符。英文里面直接用复合的名词词组是没有问题的,不少复合词假以时日本身也连在一起写了。使用连字符的话,主要也是为了避免骑马字带来的歧义,以及制造复合形容词。

The runner up staged a protest.
The runner-up staged a protest.
Helen's razor sharp wit rarely failed her.
Helen's razor-sharp wit rarely failed her.

对于数量词和单位,会使用连字符来构词,如seventy-one、4-minute drive和light-year。一些词根和词缀默认使用连字符构词,如ex-President和self-doubt。另一些词根词缀则在接专有名词,或与词干元音或辅音重叠时使用连字符构词,如pro-Maoist、bell-like和anti-intellectual。

连字符在出版物中用于剖分行尾的长单词,但随着现代排版软件的日益普及,我们已经不再需要关注这方面了。


重磅预告:下周邓洁老师将给大家带来干货满满的申请总结下篇,请继续关注周五话留学^_^

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陈 欣

陈 欣

AADPS创始人

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