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Is this sentence grammatically correct? I can change commas, colons, semicolons,...

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trophywinner | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:28 AM via web

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Is this sentence grammatically correct? I can change commas, colons, semicolons, parentheses, dashes, and apostrophes. 

Then, I began squeezing the dough (called kneading); consequently, the dough could begin to raise. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 10, 2013 at 5:15 PM (Answer #1)

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Then I began squeezing--kneading--the dough; consequently, the dough could begin to rise.

Above is the revision of punctuation provided that no other changes can be made. However, if other revision can be done, then for better clarity the sentence can be written this way:

Then I began squeezing--kneading--the dough so that it could begin to rise.

With the use of so that rather than consequently, the intent of the action is more precisely expressed since the person kneading the dough is doing so in order to activate the yeast and initiate the rising of the dough. This intent is implied by the use of the verb phrase "could begin." Using consequently denotes that an action follows as a result and the writer would probably express this without using "could begin" [...consequently, the dough began to rise].

The dash is placed before and after kneading in order to set off a nonessential element for clarity.  Thus, the use of this word explains the culinary term for "squeezing." The dash is used rather than a comma, colon, or parentheses for this reason, explained by the renowned grammarian William Strunk, Jr.,

A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than a parentheses.


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