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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Colons

Diving Back into Dialogue: Part I

Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, at 11:00 pm

We receive many questions from our readers about writing dialogue. We thought now would be a good time to revisit the subject; in doing so, we hope to answer questions some of you might still have. Format Each new line of dialogue is often indented on each line, enclosed in quotation marks, and attended by …

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Colons with Lists

Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, at 8:09 pm

Rule 1: Use the colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items when introductory words such as namely, for example, or that is do not apply or are not appropriate. Examples: You may be required to bring many items: sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing. I want the following items: butter, sugar, …

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Year-End Quiz 2018

Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Another year of grammatical exploration has concluded with linguistic miles behind us. What we’ve learned and discussed with you along the way has been illuminating, and we are grateful for the thought and insight it has inspired. We hope you gathered even more sharpened tools for communicating in concise and eloquent English. A year-end review …

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In the Zone: It’s About Time

Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, at 11:00 pm

We’re all aware of how vital marked and measured time is to guiding and structuring our days. How then do we treat it in precise and careful writing? We offered some guidelines in our updated April 2017 article Writing Dates and Times. We’ll expand on those here by delving deeper into the most recent editions of …

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Rules Do Change

Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Spacing after periods, colons, question marks, and exclamation marks Originally, typewriters had monospaced fonts (skinny letters and fat letters took up the same amount of space), so two spaces after ending punctuation marks such as the period were used to make the text more legible. However, most computer fonts present no difficulty with proportion or …

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Hitting the Right Notes with Salutations and Closings

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 4:28 pm

We live in an age of constant communication through multiple channels. Written correspondence can be as full of effort and care as a handwritten letter or as abridged and impulsive as a tweet or a text. We also exist in a time when the line between professional vs. personal and formal vs. informal addressing of …

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Comma Chameleon

Posted on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at 11:28 am

I realize that on the grand scale of interesting things, punctuation is pretty far down the list. (In a recent survey, it was in a dead heat with stovepipes, just behind pocket lint.) Punctuation is a dying art. I’m not sure whether this is the writers’ or the readers’ fault, but I mostly blame the …

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Copy Editors Are People Too

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, at 9:38 am

There can’t be many books about the life and adventures of a professional word doctor, but one that came out in 2015 is definitely worth a look. It’s Between You and Me, by Mary Norris, a longtime New Yorker copy editor who calls herself a “comma queen.” Norris admits that the book’s very title is a grammar lesson: …

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Punctuation or Chaos

Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at 9:43 am

She said I saved the company No one knows for sure what the above sentence means. It consists of six everyday words, and the first five are monosyllables, yet this simple declarative sentence has at least three quite different meanings—maybe more, because with no period on the end, the reader can’t even be sure the …

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No Question About It

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at 3:59 pm

Let’s see if you can spot what is wrong with this sentence? On closer inspection, most of you will see that the sentence should end in a period rather than a question mark. Question marks are used only with direct questions. The sentence above certainly contains a direct question: what is wrong with this sentence? …

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