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 31 (page 1 of 4)

Commas

A quiz on the use of commas.Think you know everything about commas? See if you can put the comma (or commas) in the right place in these sentences.1. John who was usually quite decisive could not decide where to go for his vacation.comma after "John"comma after "decisive"commas after "John" and "decisive"no comma needed2. The new equipment just arrived this morning so the technician will come and set it up tomorrow.comma after "arrived"comma after "morning"comma after "come"no comma needed3. After she had arrived at her office Kia realized she had left the hot-water tap running.comma after "office"comma after "realized"commas after "after" and "office"no comma needed4. The ring on his finger is solid gold.comma after "ring"commas after "ring" and "finger"comma after "finger"no comma needed5. The conference will take place on March 4 2006 at the new convention centre.comma after "4"commas after "4" and "2006"comma after "2006"no comma needed6. There was an old stone fence around the field.comma after "old"comma after "stone"commas after "old" and "stone"no comma needed7. François' favourite desserts are brownies fudge cookies and chocolate cake.comma after "brownies"comma after "fudge"commas after "brownies" and "fudge"no comma needed8. Swift Current Saskatchewan was incorporated as a city in 1914.comma after "Swift Current"comma after "Saskatchewan"commas after "Swift Current" and "Saskatchewan"no comma needed  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 37,263

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: 37,193

Commas, commas and more commas

A quiz on the use of commas.In the following sentences, see if you can decide where commas are missing—if they’re missing at all!1. The ski instructor shouted "Use the snowplow turn to control your speed" but we paid no attention.commas after "shouted" and "speed"comma after "shouted"no comma needed2. I was born in December 1964 in Saskatchewan.comma after "December"commas after "December" and "1964"no comma needed3. The wedding will be held on Saturday June 22 2013 on a beach in Tofino.comma after "Saturday" and after "June 22"comma after "Saturday", after "June 22" and after "2013"no comma needed4. Tomasina Nalof MD has been appointed dean of the faculty.commas after "Nalof" and "MD"comma after "Nalof"no comma needed5. Whatever you decide is fine with both Pat and me.comma after "decide"comma after "fine"no comma needed6. Hi how are you doing? Gosh I haven’t seen you in ages.comma after "Gosh"commas after "Hi" and "Gosh"no comma needed7. Eric grabbed for the guardrail but missed and plunged into the pool.comma after "guardrail"commas after "guardrail" and "missed"no comma needed  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 15,628

Fun with commas

A quiz on the use of commas with tag questions, direct address and interjections.In the following sentences, see if you can decide where commas are missing.1. For goodness' sake don't forget your key!comma after "sake"comma after "forget"no comma needed2. Yes we did have a good time didn't we?comma after "Yes"comma after "time"commas after "Yes" and "time"3. Oh I didn't know Jason was here!comma after "Oh"comma after "know"no comma needed4. I'm out of sugar darn! I can't make the cake after all.comma after "cake"comma before "darn"commas before "darn" and after "cake"5. They're coming to the party are they? Well I'm glad to hear it.comma after "party"commas after "party" and "Well"comma after "Well"6. Loïc hand me the shovel will you?comma after "Loïc"comma before "will you"commas after "Loïc" and before "will you"7. Tell me Flora how do you like your new home?comma after "Tell me"comma after "Flora"commas after "Tell me" and "Flora"8. Excuse me Ma'am you dropped your scarf.comma after "Ma'am"commas before and after "Ma'am"no comma needed  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 14,205

More fun with commas

A quiz on the use of commas.In the following sentences, see if you can decide where commas are missing—if they’re missing at all!1. Ovovegetarians may include vegetables and eggs in their daily diet but not meat or dairy products.comma after "diet"commas after "eggs" and "diet"no comma needed2. I’m afraid sir that your luggage is in Buenos Aires.comma after "sir"commas before and after "sir"no comma needed3. Daniella was in favour of and Sergio opposed to serving tiramisu at the party.comma after "of"comma after "of" and "to"no comma needed4. Aaron should have taken the lunch that was in the fridge instead of the one on the counter.comma before "that was in the fridge"commas before and after "that was in the fridge"no comma needed5. My niece Michela who is in college now will be turning 21 this December.commas before and after "who is in college now"comma after "now"no comma needed6. Greens such as mint and parsley are high in iron.comma after "such as"commas after "greens" and "parsley"no comma needed7. Coralie you didn’t add salt to the cake instead of sugar did you?comma after "Coralie"comma before "did you"commas after "Coralie" and before "did you"  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 10,790

Coordinate your commas and conjunctions!

An English quiz in which the user must fill in the blank with the correctly punctuated coordinating conjunction.If you've had a grammar lesson on coordinating conjunctions, then you probably know what FANBOYS means. It's the acronym formed from the initial letters of each of the coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so. They're little words, but punctuating them can be tricky.Fill in the blanks to correctly punctuate the sentences with the coordinating conjunctions below. Need help? Check out our tip on coordinating conjunctions!1. Millie and Dino dance sing.and, and2. Millie dances in a Spanish flamenco troupe Dino sings in a popular band.and, and3. Zaynah didn't make any comments during the two-hour meeting did she provide any suggestions.nor, nor4. Zaynah made no comments suggestions during the meeting.nor, nor5. Ian likes to swim he doesn't go swimming often, because the beach is so far away.but, but6. Ian loves to swim in lakes never in chlorinated pools.but, but7. Fiddleheads are a New Brunswick delicacy that can be boiled steamed.or, or8. Fiddleheads, a New Brunswick delicacy, can be boiled they can be steamed.or, or9. Abigaïl's chocolate torte was simple to make it was deliciously decadent.yet, yet10. Abigaïl prepared a delicious chocolate torte that was simple decadent.yet, yet  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 8,019

commas in a date

A writing tip on the use of commas in dates.
Use a comma to separate the day of the week from the date and the day from the year: Friday, February 13 (but Friday the thirteenth) Monday, October 26, 2015 When the date appears in a sentence in the sequence month-day-year, a comma is needed after the year as well as before it (except when the comma is replaced by a stronger mark of punctuation): He worked in my department from May 20, 2001, until October 28, 2003, when he accepted another assignment. We planned to finish the project by January 8, 2009; however, we completed the work on December 15, 2008. But when the day is omitted, there is no comma either before or after the year: He worked in my department from May 2001 until October 2004. The Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge opened in December 2003. When the date is written in the sequence day-month-year (a style more common outside of North America), commas are not used: He worked in my department from 20 May 2001 until 28 October 2003.
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 6,544

comma before because

A writing tip on when to use a comma before dependent clauses beginning with because.
A dependent clause beginning with because gives the reason for the action in the main clause. As a result, it usually gives essential information and cannot be separated from the main part of the sentence by a comma. The cat went into the shed because it was frightened. Ms. Harris lost because she changed her position on a key issue. However, a problem arises when the main verb is in the negative: e.g. did not go in, did not lose. In that case, the meaning of the sentence depends on whether you use a comma. With a comma If you add a comma to the sentence, you create a separation between not and because: The cat did not go into the shed, because it was frightened. Ms. Harris did not lose, because she changed her position on a key issue. These sentences clearly mean that the cat did not go into the shed and that Ms. Harris did not lose. The because clauses give the reason why the main action did not take place. Without a comma If you omit the comma, however, you create a close link between because and not: The cat did not go into the shed because it was frightened. Ms. Harris did not lose because she changed her position on a key issue. The absence of a comma reverses the meaning: in this case, the because clause is eliminating a reason for the action in the main clause. The cat did go into the shed—but not because it was frightened; and Ms. Harris did lose—but not because she changed her position. Because the reader may not realize the significance of the absent comma, it may be better to reword these sentences to make the meaning completely clear: It was not out of fear that the cat went into the shed. Ms. Harris’ defeat was not due to the change in her position on a key issue.
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 4,824

telephone extensions

A writing tip on the format for writing telephone extensions.
Put a comma between the main telephone number and the extension, and put the abbreviation Ext. before the extension number. Please contact Lisa Steward at 613-555-0415, Ext. 126. In formal correspondence, you may write Extension out in full.
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 4,836

absolute phrases

A writing tip explaining the structure and function of absolute phrases.
A phrase is a group of words that forms a unit simpler than a sentence. A phrase does not contain a finite (conjugated) verb. Most phrases modify a particular word in a sentence. However, an absolute phrase modifies an entire sentence instead of a single word: The birds having flown off, the cat climbed down from the tree. Unlike an ordinary phrase, the birds having flown off does not modify any word in the rest of the sentence, such as cat or climbed. This type of phrase is called absolute because it is self-contained: it usually has its own subject (in this case, birds) and does not need to attach to any word in the sentence. Structure of an absolute phrase Absolute phrases can have any of the structures shown below. Noun + participle Her work completed, Amanda flew home. [noun work + participle completed] We scrambled along the shore, the waves splashing at our feet. [noun waves + participle splashing] Noun + other modifier His mind on other matters, Jordan didn’t notice the growing storm. [noun mind + prepositional phrase on other matters] The children set off for school, faces glum, to begin the fall term. [noun faces + adjective glum] Pronoun + infinitive The audience filed out, some to return home, others to gather at the pub. [pronoun some + infinitive to return; pronoun others + infinitive to gather] Common expressions as absolute phrases Some participle and infinitive phrases are common expressions that are considered absolute. Since they do not need to attach to a particular word, they can be placed at the beginning (or end) of a sentence without dangling. Here are some examples: Financially speaking, Bob’s lifestyle changes worked well. Talking of music, have you heard the new band at Taco Jack’s? A storm is brewing, judging by the dark clouds. To get back to the main point, the budget needs to be bigger. The food was mediocre, to say the least. Punctuation tip As the above examples show, an absolute phrase is set off with a comma (or with a pair of commas if it occurs in the middle of the sentence).
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 4,813