Punctuation rules for French

RichardC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Punctuation rules for French

Every once in a while someone asks about punctuation.  I try to be a stickler on punctuation in English and must admit I don't understand the punctuation used in Kwiziq.  For example, why is there a comma in the sentence beginning Sa beauté and not in the sentence beginning with La reine?  And, also, shouldn't it be: Il était, une fois dans une contrée lointaine, une ....?



Asked 1 year ago
CélineKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Richard,

"Il était, une fois dans une contrée lointaine, une..." does not work that way at all. You could have the comma after "fois". However the whole expression for "once upon a time" is "il était une fois". Therefore you cannot separate it in two with a comma. See here: https://dictionnaire.orthodidacte.com/article/orthographe-il-etait-une-fois

- Comma or no comma in one sentence:

 In French, you can sometimes add a comma before the conjunctions "et, ou, ni, car" in one sentence if the subject of the second part of the sentence is different - which is the case in the sentence starting with "Sa beauté..." but not in the sentence starting with "La reine..."

Le chien a aboyé, et le chat a eu peur = The dog barked and the cat got scared

Le chien a aboyé et il a couru vers le portail = The dog barked and ran to the gate

Take a look here: La virgule  -  Ponctuation Typographie

 

I hope this is helpful.

Bonne journée !

HarryC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Probably a good question, but it would be helpful to see which sentences you're writing about.

RichardC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I provided the beginning of the sentences.  I think it should be clear.  If not, I will provide the full sentences.

RichardC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

If I may pursue this a bit further, I realize that "once upon a time" is a fixed phrase, but since you have put a comma after "lointaine", it seems there should be a comma before it otherwise what is the purpose of the comma after "lointaine"?  Because the sentence can read "Il était une princess ..."   So if "une fois" is taken as an adverb (of adverbial phrase), I can see why the comma could be after it.  But, it really seems to me there needs to be a second comma to complement the one after "lointaine".  Thank you for the clarification about different subjects.  That is different from English.   

HarryC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thanks, Richard. I was referring to "Sa beauté..." and "La reine..."

CélineKwiziq team member

Bonjour Richard,

In this context (and in practice), the comma can either go after "lointaine" or after "une fois". It is a stylistic choice! In this instance, when listening to the audio, there isn't a pause after "fois" - so, no comma ;-) You will see this happening in fairy tales in French. Take a look at Charles Perrault's tales in French, for example.

I hope this is helpful and clearer!

Bonne journée !

Punctuation rules for French

Every once in a while someone asks about punctuation.  I try to be a stickler on punctuation in English and must admit I don't understand the punctuation used in Kwiziq.  For example, why is there a comma in the sentence beginning Sa beauté and not in the sentence beginning with La reine?  And, also, shouldn't it be: Il était, une fois dans une contrée lointaine, une ....?



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