Category: Commas

To Restrict or Not to Restrict: That Is the Question

Posted on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Who, that, or which; restrictive or non-restrictive: Most of us have at some point had to grapple with interpretation, pronoun choice, and punctuation for a statement containing essential or non-essential information. For example, what would be succinct within the following statements? Jayla always orders the surf and turf that the master chef prepares for her. …

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Connecting Sentences with Commas and Semicolons

Posted on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Many of you have been asking for help with punctuating between clauses and phrases within sentences. You want to know when you should use a comma and when you need a semicolon. Here are a few rules with examples that we hope you find helpful. Commas Rule: Use a comma between two independent clauses when …

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Exchanging English Over the Pond: U.S. and U.K. Part IV

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at 11:00 pm

During the last several weeks we've covered some meaningful ground about the language we share with our friends across the water. For us, it's been fun to reflect on what we have in common as well as how each dialect varies its voice. So far, we've examined spelling, word choice, and points of grammar. We'll …

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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 11:00 pm

Rule 1: Use a colon to introduce a series of items. Do not capitalize the first item after the colon (unless it's a proper noun). Examples: You may be required to bring many things: sleeping bags, pans, utensils, and warm clothing. Please pick up the following items: butter, sugar, and flour. I want an assistant who …

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How Did They Get In Here?

Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Writers today have problems keeping their sentences internally consistent. This is especially true of print journalists. Because of staff cutbacks at financially challenged newspapers, many articles are proofread hastily, if at all. Combine that with the shocking decline in Americans’ English language skills over the last fifty years or so and you get sentences unworthy …

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Becoming Savvy with Sentence Structures: Part Three

Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Sentence structures are the beams of the building of composition. The stronger and better formed they are, the firmer our communication foundation will be. Part One of our discussion introduced us to simple and compound sentences. In Part Two, we explored complex and compound-complex sentences. Let's take a brief look at all four as a …

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Becoming Savvy with Sentence Structures: Part One

Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, at 11:00 pm

The art of writing resembles any trade that begins with the basics and evolves into skillful applications of them. A key component of precise and eloquent composition is understanding sentence structures. English comprises four foundational sentence constructions: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. In part one of our discussion, we’ll review simple and compound sentences. Simple …

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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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Quotations Within Quotations

Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Almost all of us have found ourselves confused with double and single quotation marks. When do we use single quotation marks? Where does the punctuation go with single quotation marks? With just a few rules and examples, you will feel surer about your decisions. Rule: Use single quotation marks inside double quotation marks when you …

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Commas Before and in a Series

Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Many of you no doubt saw the news last week that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined our ranks of fellow grammar watchdogs when he issued instructions to his staff on the proper use of commas. According to an internal State Department email given to CNN, “The Secretary has underscored the need for appropriate …

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Arranging Multiple Adjectives

Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, at 11:00 pm

We know an adjective is a word that describes or modifies a noun. We also know that in English adjectives almost always precede their noun, unlike languages such as Spanish and French, in which adjectives more commonly can be placed either before or after a noun depending on their function or emphasis. Understanding adjectives’ position …

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So Tell Me—When Is It Correct to Use So

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

So: It’s among the shortest words in English, and use of it abounds. So, when are we going to meet up? That movie was so good. I so much want to be there. He’s not feeling well, so he probably won’t go to the meeting. The word has become a versatile agent for our language …

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A _____ Walks Into a Bar

Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at 11:00 pm

The phrase A ______ walks into a bar has provided the take-off point for an uncountable number of jokes over the years. No matter what one’s opinion is of bars, we hope that everyone can appreciate the lessons in English grammar contained in the clever sentences that follow: A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying …

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Using Commas, Semicolons, and Colons Within Sentences

Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at 8:30 pm

Two weeks ago we revisited the case of the lawsuit brought by a group of Maine dairy truck drivers that centered on the proper use of commas. Interestingly, the dispute was "resolved" through the use of semicolons (and cash). In light of that legal case, we thought it would be useful today to review the …

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