Language Navigator

Language Navigator allows you to search by keyword or by theme to quickly find answers to questions about language or writing in English and French. To learn more about this search engine, consult the section entitled About Language Navigator.

New to Language Navigator? Learn how to search for content in Language Navigator.

Search by keyword

Search fields

Search by theme

Search by theme to quickly access all of the Portal’s language resources related to a specific theme.

About Language Navigator

Language Navigator simultaneously searches all of the writing tools, quizzes and blog posts on the Language Portal of Canada. It gives you access to everything you need to write well in English and French: articles on language difficulties, linguistic recommendations, conjugation tables, translation suggestions and much more.

To translate a term or to find answers to terminology questions in a specialized field, please consult TERMIUM Plus®.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results 1 to 10 of 48 (page 1 of 5)

Colons 1

An English-language quiz on colon usage.Can you tell if the colon is used correctly in each of these sentences?1. The committee now includes: the CEO, two managing directors, a researcher and two writers.correctincorrect2. After James retired, he took up some new hobbies: fly fishing, skating and scuba diving.correctincorrect3. Padma whipped up a ten-course meal, including: gazpacho, fried calamari and baked Alaska.correctincorrect4. The Yeungs enjoy listening to the music of some great Russian composers: Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, and their favourite: Tchaikovsky.correctincorrect5. Miriam Toews, who was born in Steinbach, Manitoba, wrote: Summer of My Amazing Luck, A Boy of Good Breeding and A Complicated Kindness.correctincorrect6. They read, studied and reviewed the material: yet, they failed the exam.correctincorrect7. There are many reasons for joining a gym: to get in shape, to lose weight and to get out of the house.correctincorrect  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 35,685

punctuation: spacing

An English writing tip explaining when to put a space before or after a mark of punctuation.
As a general rule, in English there is no space before and one space after a punctuation mark. Exceptions follow. Period No space before or after a decimal period between numerals: 10.6 million Canadians $7.45 A space before and none after a decimal period not preceded by a numeral: a .22 calibre rifle A space after a period following a person’s initial: W. S. Avis No space before or after a period in multiple numeration: subsection 2.5.12 No space before or after a period that is followed by a comma or a closing quotation mark, parenthesis or bracket: John Fraser Jr., Ellen Putniak and George Zeller were nominated. (See Chapter 21.) No space before the periods following the capital letters in the official abbreviations of provinces and territories, and no space after such periods except the last one: P.E.I. Y.T. Ellipsis points A space before, between and after ellipsis points: There was little he could say . . . so he said nothing. Note: There is an alternative format for the ellipsis. It requires no spaces between the ellipsis points (…). However, a space is inserted before and after the ellipsis when it is used between two words (“Interviews … have”), between a comma and a word (“In fact, … we have”), or between end punctuation and the beginning of a new sentence (“fell drastically. … But”). Question mark and exclamation mark No space before or after a question or exclamation mark that is followed by a closing quotation mark, parenthesis or bracket: The delegate added, "Is it not high time we tightened our belts and dealt with the deficit?" Comma No space before or after a comma that is followed by a closing quotation mark: "Stop procrastinating," she said. The terms "interfacing," "conferencing" and "downsizing" are now part of the language of business. No space before or after a comma used to separate triads in numbers (see Note 2 in 5.09 Decimal fractions): $12,670,233 Colon No space before or after a colon used to express ratios or the time of day in the 24-hour system, or to separate chapter and verse, volume and page, act and scene in references to books, plays, etc.: a slope of 1:4 We arrived at 15:30 Psalms 39:5 Parentheses and brackets One space before and none after an opening parenthesis or bracket within a sentence; no space before or after a closing parenthesis or bracket that is followed by a punctuation mark: Please read the enclosed booklet (Using Your Modem); it will help you take full advantage of your new communication tool. No space before or between parentheses enclosing subsections, paragraphs, subparagraphs, etc., in citations from legislation: subparagraph 123(4)(b)(ii) Em dash, en dash and hyphen No space before or after these marks when they are inserted between words, a word and a numeral, or two numerals: I will support you in any way I can—even to the point of silence. —Eugene Forsey a few 90-cent stamps pp. 134–200 Oblique No space before or after an oblique used between individual words, letters or symbols; one space before and after the oblique when one or both of the items it separates contain internal spacing: n/a thesaurus / collocation dictionary Language and Society / Langue et société Apostrophe No space before or after an apostrophe within a word. One space before and none after an apostrophe used to indicate omitted figures in dates: the committee’s report the employees’ suggestions the class of ’79 Quotation marks One space before and none after an opening quotation mark within a sentence; no space before or after a closing quotation mark that is followed by a punctuation mark: The Minister spoke of "a full and frank discussion with all parties"; a resolution to the conflict is expected within the week.
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 34,269

End punctuation

An English-language quiz on end punctuation.The period, exclamation point and question mark are called end punctuation. We all know how to use these basic punctuation marks—or do we? See if you know the ins and outs of end punctuation with this quiz.1. Which sentence is punctuated properly?I wonder whether the mail has been delivered?The mail has been delivered, hasn't it.Would you please pick up the mail for me.2. Punctuate a sentence that ends in the abbreviation for etcetera as follows:She loves reading about horses, dogs, cats, etc.The office needs new computers, telephones, fax machines, etc..Buy food for supper tonight: potatoes, pork chops, (etc.).3. A question mark in parentheses can be used toexpress uncertainty.mark the end of any sentence.express the writer's disbelief.4. Writers can express their disbelief by using an exclamation point like this:Thousands of people [!] attended the concert in the rain.Thousands of people (!) attended the concert in the rain.Thousands of people—!—attended the concert in the rain.5. Which sentence has the correct punctuation?Churchill said, "Canada is the linchpin of the English-speaking world".Did John say he bought "a nice house" or "an ice house?"The audience immediately stood up and yelled, "Encore!"6. Which of the following abbreviations is punctuated properly?NNW. (North northwest)R.C.M.P. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)ATV (all-terrain vehicle)7. Choose the sentence that is punctuated properly.Did the tourist ask, "How can I get to the museum?"?Did the tourist ask, "How can I get to the museum?"Did the tourist ask, "How can I get to the museum"?  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 18,497

Dashes

An English-language quiz on the use of the dash.Using dashes properly can liven up and clarify your writing. Test yourself with the quiz below.1. Which is the correct way to punctuate scores?The Flames beat the Canucks 3–2 in overtime.The Flames beat the Canucks 3—2 in overtime.both are correct2. Which of the following is spaced properly?Kali chose a shocking colour for the guest room – electric blue!Kali chose a shocking colour for the guest room—electric blue!both are correct3. Which of the following uses the correct punctuation?No parking Monday–Friday, 7:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m.No parking Monday — Friday, 7:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m.No parking Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m.4. In which of the following sentences is the distance most emphasized?I had a long drive ahead, more than 800 km, so I set out at dawn.I had a long drive ahead—more than 800 km—so I set out at dawn.I had a long drive ahead (more than 800 km), so I set out at dawn.5. Which of the following demonstrates the right way to join two independent clauses?Neville made a mug for his mother, and she uses it every day.Neville made a mug for his mother—and she uses it every day.both are correct6. Which of the following federal electoral districts is punctuated correctly?South Shore —St. Margaret'sCumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit ValleyKings-Hants7. Which of the following is a standard use of the en dash?replacing a colon to introduce an explanationattaching a prefix or suffix to an unhyphenated compoundattributing a quotation  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 18,412

Kicking the em dash habit

An English blog post on the spaced en dash and unspaced em dash.Bold. Dramatic. Assertive. Powerful. These are just some of the words used to describe my favourite punctuation mark: the em dash! The unspaced em dash I'm a long-time fan of unspaced em dashes to separate the elements of a sentence or title in English. In fact, I delight in peppering my texts with these long dashes to create suspense or highlight an interruption. And I'm not alone: most Canadian and American style guides support my preference. But the unspaced em dash, entrenched though it is in North America, has a rival that's been gaining ground. The spaced en dash Consider the following sentences: "Yogourt" or "yogurt"—which is right? "Yogourt" or "yogurt" – which is right? In the first sentence, I used an unspaced em dash (—) to offset the question. In the second one, I used a spaced en dash ( – ). (And in case you were wondering which dash was right, the answer is … both!) Personally, I find that the first sentence has more "oomph" than the second one. The difference between the two sentences is subtle, but it's there. For that reason, I'm not the biggest fan of spaced en dashes. But I'm learning to live with them. Why? Because they're popping up everywhere, and they're endorsed by some pretty credible sources. Support for the spaced en dash Some major British publishing houses (including Cambridge University Press and Penguin) use spaced en dashes. And many writers and graphic designers on this side of the Atlantic also prefer spaced en dashes for readability and aesthetics, finding them less distracting than unspaced em dashes. Moreover, in his influential work The Elements of Typographic Style, Canadian typographer Robert Bringhurst also advocates spaced en dashes. He states that the em dash is too long in many modern fonts and claims that it's passé: The em dash is the nineteenth-century standard, still prescribed in many editorial style books, but the em dash is too long for use with the best text faces. Like the oversized space between sentences, it belongs to the padded and corseted aesthetic of Victorian typography. So, move over, em dash, and make way for your leaner and airier cousin. With time, I may even learn to like the spaced en dash. Perhaps it's an acquired taste … What about you? Which dash would we find in your writing? Let us know in the comments section!
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 18,314

Question marks

A quiz on punctuation related to the use of question marks.Deciding when to use question marks can be trickier than you think! For example, some sentences read like questions but are really polite requests, while other sentences sound like requests but are really questions. How well do you know the different uses of the question mark? Take this quiz to find out!1. You wouldn't by any chance have another pen?CorrectIncorrect2. Will you please come to my office at 1:00 and bring with you the progress report that Mary prepared last week regarding the new project?CorrectIncorrect3. Give him another chance. Not in a million years!CorrectIncorrect4. Will you please be quiet!CorrectIncorrect5. How many times must we go over this?CorrectIncorrect6. I wonder if Lori passed her biology exam?CorrectIncorrect7. When Ruth Rosenthal immigrated to Canada (in 193?) from Germany, she immediately felt at home.CorrectIncorrect8. We just learned that Rob and Katie called off their wedding. What are we supposed to do with the decorations? the food? the band? the guests flying in from abroad?CorrectIncorrect9. I was wondering if I could borrow a couple of dollars?CorrectIncorrect  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 15,959

Colons 2

An English-language quiz on colon usage.Can you tell if the colon is used correctly in each of these sentences?1. Three quaint towns to visit in the Charlevoix region of Quebec are: Saint-Irénée, Les Éboulements and Saint-Siméon.correctincorrect2. There is plenty to do in the Charlevoix: whale watching, cycling and sampling fine cheeses, of course!correctincorrect3. It’s no secret: the Bas-Saint-Laurent region boasts some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world.correctincorrect4. The name “Kamouraska” comes from an Algonquin word and means: “where rushes grow at the water's edge.”correctincorrect5. Eel was a staple food of Indigenous peoples living along the St. Lawrence because: it was plentiful, nutritious and easily preserved.correctincorrect6. From the Cap de Bon-Désir observation centre, visitors can observe whale species such as: belugas, porpoises and humpbacks.correctincorrect7. The title of the article was “Quebec’s Master Sculptors: Médard, André and Jean-Julien Bourgault.”correctincorrect8. The two cyclists needed immediate shelter: a storm was brewing.correctincorrect9. Saint-Jean-Port-Joli is identified with prominent cultural figures, including: author Philippe Aubert de Gaspé and wood carver Médard Bourgault.correctincorrect10. De Gaspé makes clear that his novel draws upon his memories: “All my ambition is to note down some episodes of the good old times, some remembrances of a youth … long passed away.”correctincorrect  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 13,737

Semicolons 2

An English-language quiz on semicolons.Do you think you know your semicolons? Try our quiz and see if you can identify which of these sentences use this punctuation mark correctly.1. An online presence is essential for small businesses; but according to Forbes, the influential business magazine, research shows that smaller businesses are not making the most of their web presence.correctincorrect2. We managed to see some of London’s major landmarks on our seven‑hour whirlwind tour; Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.correctincorrect3. My train arrives at 8:00 p.m.; otherwise, I would have joined you for the 7:30 p.m. show.correctincorrect4. Mel wanted to improve her small business’s online presence; she decided to create a Facebook page and an Instagram account to complement the business’s website.correctincorrect5. The assistant’s tasks include drafting correspondence, emails and memos; scheduling meetings, appointments and interviews; and contacting partners, clients and suppliers.correctincorrect6. Some people practice yoga to relax; others, mindfulness.correctincorrect7. Contrary to popular belief, male groundhogs do not emerge from their burrows on February 2 to spot their shadows; they emerge; rather, to search for mates.correctincorrect  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 11,488

asterisk at end of a sentence

A writing tip on where to place an asterisk at the end of a sentence.
When an asterisk and a punctuation mark (e.g. period, question mark, exclamation mark) appear at the end of a sentence, the asterisk follows the punctuation mark, with no space between them. For example: Melby states that this decision was sound.* Melby attempts to justify his decision as being sound!* As for the explanation at the bottom of the page (e.g. author’s, editor’s or translator’s note), place the asterisk immediately before the explanation. *Here Melby is referring to… Notes referenced by an asterisk or other symbol should come before any numbered footnotes in the list at the bottom of the page.
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 11,375

End punctuation revisited

An English-language quiz on end punctuationThe period, exclamation point and question mark are forms of end punctuation. We all know how to use these basic punctuation marks—or do we? Take this quiz to see if you know the ins and outs of end punctuation.1. Which sentence is punctuated properly?I wonder if any of my guests have any food allergies?I wonder if any of my guests have any food allergies.I wonder if any of my guests have any food allergies;2. Choose the sentence that is punctuated correctly.Are you bringing dessert? a salad? rolls?I asked her if she was bringing dessert, a salad or rolls?I asked her, "Are you bringing dessert, a salad or rolls?".3. Which sentence is punctuated properly? Q3"True peace can rarely be imposed from the outside." (Vanier 16)"True peace can rarely be imposed from the outside" (Vanier 16)."True peace can rarely be imposed from the outside" (Vanier 16.)4. Which sentence has the correct punctuation?Sanjay exclaimed, "I will not stand for such exorbitant charges!".Sanjay exclaimed, "I will not stand for such exorbitant charges"!Sanjay exclaimed, "I will not stand for such exorbitant charges!"5. Punctuate a sentence that ends with a parenthetical expression as follows:Indonesia has only two seasons (dry season and wet season).Indonesia has only two seasons (dry season and wet season.)Indonesia has only two seasons. (Dry season and wet season.)6. Which sentence is punctuated properly? Q6Aldous Huxley said, “Dream in a pragmatic way.”Imagine suggesting that we “dream in a pragmatic way”!both are correct7. Which of the following abbreviations is punctuated properly?21 k.m.7 m.10 ft.  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 8,066