Category: Periods

A Study of Style: The U.S. Military

Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Our exploration of American English strives to venture even further than the principles that guide writing with precision and eloquence. We are also interested in the language variances beyond what we accept as common for information exchange. For example, we know that United States can be abbreviated, often as either US or U.S. One might …

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A Midsummer’s Musing on Miscellany

Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Our regular readers might note that our study of American English periodically includes smaller but still noteworthy items we collect from research and reader correspondence. It's been several months since our last musings on miscellany, so we thought we'd return for more as we approach midsummer 2020. (To review miscellany from the past two years, …

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Sabotage in Broad Daylight?

Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 11:00 pm

If you like being punched in the gut, type the word literally into Google, everyone's favorite internet search engine. Here is what you'll find: 1. in a literal manner or sense; exactly. "the driver took it literally when asked to go straight across the traffic circle" 2. INFORMAL used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while …

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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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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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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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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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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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All About etc.

Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, at 1:53 pm

The abbreviation etc. is from the Latin et cetera, which means “and other things.” It appears at the end of a list when there is no point in giving more examples. Writers use it to say, “And so on” or “I could go on” or “You get the idea.” In American English, etc. ends in a period, even midsentence. …

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Essential and Nonessential Elements, Part II

Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, at 1:04 pm

Here is the rule again, in case you missed it: Essential elements in a sentence should not be enclosed in commas. Nonessential elements in a sentence should be enclosed by commas. Last time, we applied the rule to clauses. Today we’ll look at essential and nonessential phrases (a phrase is two or more related words …

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(All About) Parentheses

Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2014, at 9:25 pm

The singular form is parenthesis, but the plural parentheses is the word you’re more likely to see. Both words have a wide range of related meanings, and what some people identify as a parenthesis, others call parentheses. So let’s keep it simple. For our purposes, a parenthesis is one of a pair of curved marks …

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Sabotage in Broad Daylight?

Posted on Saturday, August 24, 2013, at 3:39 pm

If you like being punched in the gut, type the word literally into Google, everyone’s favorite Internet search engine. Here is what you’ll find: In a literal manner or sense; exactly: “the driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the traffic circle”. Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but …

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Quotations Within Quotations

Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007, at 1:18 am

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 …

Read More

Rules Do Change

Posted on Friday, December 1, 2006, at 8:54 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 …

Read More