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[Guide] How to write proper English on forums


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#1 Selbi

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:30 PM

Introduction:

The first thing you must've thought about after reading the title and my name is "Why would a German guy, who barely manages to write perfect English himself, create such a guide?". The answer, my friends, is rather simple: This is not a guide on how to speak perfect English itself (e.g. "In which order should I put these words?"). No, this guide is to teach you how you should write on a message board in terms of writing style.

This guide became more and more necessary, because many people don't seem to realize, that this is not even just making you look more professional, but is also required in order to enjoy a long stay on this board and don't want to make yourself look like retard.


At the beginning of each rule I will give you two versions of an example, an incorrect and a correct one. So, let's get started:

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Rule #1 - Always capitalize "I"!

Yesterday i was at the cinema.
Yesterday I was at the cinema.

"Always" means always and without any exceptions.

Normally you shouldn't have a problem memorizing this rule, but if you really do, here's what I got told in school:
"In the English language, you are always dominating! Not the other, unimportant people, only you. Regardless of how unimportant you might consider yourself, you always make yourself the king by erecting big, towering I's."

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Rule #2 - Always write capitalized after the end of a sentence!

... why? because he said so.
... why? Because he said so.

Once again, without exceptions. There's only one thing you might want to memorize, which is where this rule applies, which are the following punctuations:
. (dot), ! (exclamation mark), ? (question mark) and under most circumstances, : (colon).

Remember: Only these 4 punctuations and NOT more! That also means, that you never write capitalized after a , (comma) as you do at the beginning of a sentence. Of course, there are exceptions, which is what I will talk about next...

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Rule #3 - All names, dates, country names and languages are written capitalized!

I just had a bad argument with steve...
I just had a bad argument with Steve...

Alright, I will see you on saturday!
Alright, I will see you on Saturday!

I can't speak german, but live in germany...
I can't speak German, but live in Germany...

This rule acts as a "the exceptions" rule. Pretty much any word in the English language is uncapitalized (unlike, for example, German, where ALL nouns are capitalized).


Also, names do not always need to be names of people. It can also be an normally uncapitalized noun or even verb/adjective, as long as its meant to be written like that:

Sonic the hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog

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Rule #4 - Don't use silly shortened words!

Plz, do u want 2 trade ur coke 4 my lemonade?
Please, do you want to trade your coke for my lemonade?

This is not a real rule of the English language, but highly recommended and obviously expected on forums like this one. Anybody using these kinds of words frequently, is often considered to be either an idiot or simply doesn't care. Both is not good, for you.

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Rule #5 - Use apostrophes!

Dont do it, its a bad idea!
Don't do it, it's a bad idea!

Apostrophes exist for a reason, which is to indicate, that a word has been shortened or two words combined.

For example, "don't" is actually a combination of "do not". If you look closely, you will notice that the "o" of "not" has been replaced.

Another example: "It's" means "it is" and in this word, the apostrophe isn't even just there to make it look better, it's required! "Its" has a completely different meaning, which is being the gender-less version of "his" and "her":
"His dog couldn't find its bone."


Apostrophes also serve another purpose, which is indicating someone's own.

Pauls dog finally found its bone!
Paul's dog finally found its bone!


However, NEVER use it as a plural, that ends with "s":

Infact, his dog found two bone's.
Infact, his dog found two bones.

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Rule #6 - Where to use "an" instead of "a"!

He just ate a apple.
He just ate an apple

Without a doubt one of the trickier rules and I even some experienced people have trouble with it.

You always write "an" instead of "a", when the next word starts with a vowel in the pronunciation (A, E, I, O, U), otherwise never.

There are only two exceptions:
- Unsounded H ("an honest problem")
- U being pronounced as "you" ("a unicorn")

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Rule #7 - After punctuation, you always put a space!

Hey,want to come over?We can watch a movie or something.
Hey, want to come over? We can watch a movie or something.

Not too hard once you know, that you are supposed to do it, but still many people have problems with it (lack of knowledge or just laziness, I don't know). Either way, this rule has no exceptions and applies to ALL punctuations, that are made to build up a sentence (except brackets). It makes posts a dozen times cleaner.

.:,;!? to name a few.

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Rule #8 - Do not confuse "Your" and "You're":

Your really awesome at this!
You're really awesome at this!

This is a common problem, simply because these two words sound pretty much the same when pronounced, at least to people, whose main language isn't English (this includes myself).

Your = Indicates ownership (similar to his, her and its).
You're = Shortened form of "You are" (similar to "it's" and "don't").

Do not mix between these two! They have a completely different meaning.

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Rule #9 - Do not confuse "There", "Their" and "They're":

I hope their doing well...
I hope they're doing well...

Similar to rule #8, these words are often confused due to their similar pronunciation. Each word has a completely different meaning though.

There = Referring to a certain place ("Look over there!").
Their = Indicates ownership of multiple persons ("Their dog is doing fine.")
They're = A mix of the words "they" and "are" ("I'm sure they're coming sooner or later...").

Do not mix between these!

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This should sum up all the very basic things you should know about forums to write rather clean English. I'm in no way sure if I listed all of the basic, but besides forgetting some punctuation and not capitalizing specific words, you can't really do much wrong.
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#2 amphobius

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:39 PM

Ironic, isn't it?

Nevertheless, I find it down-right appauling that native English speakers can't even punctuate correctly.

'Course, this'll likely be completely ignored and the problem'll continue to exist. Oh well, c'est la vie.
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#3 Dandaman955

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:49 PM

Yesteday I was at the cinema.


Yesterday has an "R" in it, so it's wrong. ;)
*runs*

Edited by Selbi, 28 June 2011 - 10:47 PM.
Fixed.

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#4 GalliumGrant

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 10:22 PM

This guide became more and more necessary, because many people don't seem to realize, that this is not even just making you look more professional, but is also required in order to enjoy a long stay on this board and don't want to make yourself look like retard.


YES! Finally someone says it! I can't stress how much I hate it when people spell like absolute
motherfucking shit. >=0
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#5 Selbi

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 10:47 PM

There's something I would like to ask you, TheGuy321:

Why excactly do you make line breaks always at such weird locations? Usually you only make line breaks after the end of a paragraph, but you litterally do it in the middle of every sentence.
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#6 DAGarden

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 10:32 AM

I might sound like the complete opposite of everyone here but I really don't think this is necessary.
I think it all boils down to 1 of 3 things:

1) If you are a native English speaker/writer/etc and you aren't typing on this message board in proper English, then why not?
Not doing so looks untidy, messy and also makes it more difficult for people to understand you.

2) If you are not a native English speaker/writer/etc and you are typing on this board using the English you do know, don't go and take leniencies with things you don't understand.
Examples of this include spelling, punctuation and grammar. If you are unsure, look it up. It won't take you less than a minute using a search engine, like Google, to find your answer.

3) And most importantly, if you are not a native English speaker/writer/etc and you can't type on this board without a translator or similar device/program, then just let it be known in the post. I think that's about the best you can do and people will understand. It's not impossible for this to be the case, either.

If we honestly can't work with a system like this, then why are we trying at all?
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#7 Selbi

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 12:42 PM

Anyone who can speak English, regardless of it being their native language or not, is expected to write properly. Putting words in the wrong order, maybe because someone doesn't have much grammar knowledge, isn't a problem at all. It's only about the English style.

I'm not saying, that we will ban everyone who forgets to capitalize their "I" once, but everyone should be able to remember some rather simple rules about the English language.

What you don't understand, DAGarden, is that many people are not even aware of their bad spelling, and will only start trying to write clean, when someone tells them, usually in a rough way. With a simple guide like this one here, everyone has a fair chance of doing so, or at least good enough.
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#8 Animemaster

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 04:50 PM

Anyone who can speak English, regardless of it being their native language or not, is expected to write properly. Putting words in the wrong order, maybe because someone doesn't have much grammar knowledge, isn't a problem at all. It's only about the English style.

I'm not saying, that we will ban everyone who forgets to capitalize their "I" once, but everyone should be able to remember some rather simple rules about the English language.

What you don't understand, DAGarden, is that many people are not even aware of their bad spelling, and will only start trying to write clean, when someone tells them, usually in a rough way. With a simple guide like this one here, everyone has a fair chance of doing so, or at least good enough.

Maybe they can get a warning, say for example: if a staff member was watching a user, and there post were frequently bad, you would post with a link to this guide. Maybe theres a way to implement it so that when they log in they get like an auto message about the way there posting. I don't know how hard that would be to implement though.
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#9 redhotsonic

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 05:31 PM

The thing that made me laugh, Selbi, is that after reading your post, the very first thing your signiture says: "Please excuse any bad english in this post." =P
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#10 MicroChirp

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 07:43 PM

Well, I have to say that this guide is pretty good for those who tend to type English the incorrect way. Good work!
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#11 Selbi

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 08:51 PM

Crap, forgot to talk about "a" and "an". Added this as rule 6 now.
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#12 Hanoch

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 12:02 AM

You're guide is pretty good! I like it, now there would be less noobs on forums, and get more respect!

Spoiler

Edited by Hanoch, 04 July 2011 - 12:04 AM.

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#13 Selbi

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 01:44 AM

I'm just not too sure how to explain the difference between "your" and "you're". Can anyone take that work off me? :V
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#14 Hanoch

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 06:22 AM

Rule #7 - Do not be confused with 'Your' and 'You're':

You are = You're (remember to put an apostrophe)

The guide that belongs to you = Your Guide

Do not mix between the two! You're means You are, Your is a word to state a belonging.

Your really awesome at making guides!
Your guide is good, You're awesome!

Spoiler

Edited by Hanoch, 04 July 2011 - 06:23 AM.

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#15 Selbi

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:21 AM

Added a new rule, regarding punctuation and spaces (made for our dear friend Sonic master).
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#16 Lips2k8

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 09:06 AM

I have to say I really dont agree with this at all... Some people are unable to spell and punctuate properly me being one of those people as I have dyslexia and are on the autistic spectrum. I agree that text speak such as M8, L8A, CBA and the likes shouldnt be allowed but not everyday folk who might have a genuine reason for the odd mistake here and there.
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#17 MarkeyJester

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 06:11 PM

I have to agree with Lips2k8, and he makes a very valid point that shouldn't really go unnoticed. There's also the issue with the english language having rules that are based on some form of morality or historical moment rather than logic, hence why some have trouble comprehending on how to use the language professionally, and to that, I don't really blame them. Heck, why does the word Knuckles start with a K when there's no pronunciation of the letter K at the beginning of said word, and if you read up on the reason, garenteed it's only that way because of some historical event that us as a culture won't bother to rectify and change to something say "Nukels" (which is more logical as it fits the pronunciation of the word and individuals could relate to and learn from a lot more easily). It's a fucking shame when the human race lacks logic where it's really needed.
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#18 Selbi

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 07:27 PM

It is expected from any member to use correct spelling and grammar. A new member is given the chance to improve his/her typing style, if they aren't very experienced with it yet. Some people however, ignore this, no matter how often they are told. It doesn't even matter how this is done, be it a quick line in a post or a large PM (friendly is always the first option, but if that doesn't work, using the hard way is your only alternative). Not even trying or acknowledging the fact, that they should improve their English, makes you ignorant.

Sonic master was one of these persons. He has great hacking/programming knowledge and I do respect that a lot, but he is a lazy writer. Ever since he joined these forums, he wrote like this (Example 1 - Example 2). Many staffers, not just me, already told him to work on his spelling (his grammar is perfectly fine by the way, it's really only the spelling). The main problem on his posts were usually not capitlizing many words, which is also why I took great effort into mentioning that thing a lot in this guide.

If there is indeed a valid reason for not being able to write properly, like having dyslexia, as you said Lips2k8, that is understood and respected. But there is a difference between not being able to write properly and just being lazy.
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