In addition to the period or question mark that is required at the end of a sentence, Narrator also recognizes dashes, commas, and parentheses. The comma goes where you would normally put a comma in an English sentence. It causes narrator to pause with a slightly rising pitch, indicating that there is more to come. The use of additional commas, that is, more than would be required for written English - is often helpful. They serve to set clauses off from one another. There is a tendency for a listener to lose track of the meaning of a sentence if the words run together. Read your sentence aloud while pretending to be a newscaster. The locations for additional commas should leap out at you. The dash serves almost the same purpose as the comma, except that the dash does not cause the pitch to rise so severely. A rule of thumb is: Use dashes to divide phrases and commas to divide clauses. Parentheses provide additional information to narrator's intonation function. They should be put around noun phrases of two or more content words. This means that the noun phrase, a giant yacht should be surrounded with parentheses because it contains two content words, giant and yacht. The phrase my friend should not have parentheses around it because it contains only one content word. Noun phrases can get fairly large, like the best time I've ever had or a big basket of fruit and nuts. The parentheses are most effective around these large phrases; the smaller ones can sometimes go without. The effect of parentheses is subtle, and in some sentences you might not notice their presence. In sentences of great length, however, they help provide for a very natural contour.
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