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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Commas

Lack of Commas Costs Company Millions in Dispute

Posted on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at 8:48 am

The following recent news item hits to the heart of our mission at GrammarBook.com of educating our readers on the importance of communicating clearly through the use of good grammar and punctuation. Even though some of you may have seen or heard about this legal case, we felt strongly about reprinting it in this week’s e-newsletter. …

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A Sportswriter Cries “Foul!”

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, at 1:30 pm

by Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist The hyphens are coming, and beware—they’re taking over. Commas, not so much. Commas have gone extinct. These are a couple of my pet peeves when it comes to grammatical violations in print. More on that later. In the meantime: Somehow, a guy named Al showed up in …

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Clear as Mud

Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, at 10:37 am

In the print and broadcast media, new catchwords appear out of nowhere—and suddenly they’re everywhere. Often these are familiar words that have taken on different meanings which no one ever bothers to explain. Today, let’s discuss a couple of these ubiquitous buzzwords. Optics  This overblown word has become commonplace in news reports. Some random examples: …

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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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Year-End Quiz 2015

Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, at 2:31 pm

To close out 2015 we have put together a comprehensive pop quiz based on the year’s GrammarBook.com grammar posts. The quiz comprises twenty-five sentences that may—or may not—need fixing. Think you can fix the ones that need help? You’ll find our answers directly below the quiz. Each answer includes, for your convenience, the title and …

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A Twenty-first Century Usage Guide

Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, at 9:57 pm

Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words by best-selling writer-editor Bill Bryson offers serious scholarship with a smooth, light touch. It’s a hard book to stop reading once you’ve opened it. We have a lot of other reference books in our offices, but the most recent of those came out in 1983. That was way back in …

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Media Watch: Verbs, Prepositions, Commas

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at 6:29 pm

Here is another bundle of woeful lapses by the print and broadcast media. • Triple trouble from an international news organization: “Garcia graduated law school in California and passed the state’s bar exam, but has been forbidden from practicing law.” Using graduate as a transitive verb here is still frowned on by traditionalists. Make it …

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The Man Who Hated Semicolons

Posted on Tuesday, March 31, 2015, at 8:34 am

Ten years ago, the author Kurt Vonnegut stirred things up with four sentences he wrote in his final book, A Man Without a Country: “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” One must consider …

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