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 legibility, so use just one space after a period, colon, question mark,
or exclamation point at the end of a sentence. You will not be struck by
lightning, we promise!
Quotation marks and punctuation
In several English-speaking countries other than the USA, a period used with
quotation marks follows logic.
Myrtle said the word “darn”.
The period is outside the quotation marks because only the last word was
quoted, not the entire sentence.
Myrtle said, “I would never say that.”
The period went inside the quotation marks because this was Myrtle’s
Today, in American English usage, the period always goes
inside the quotation marks.
Myrtle said the word “darn.”
This does not follow logic, but it makes life easier for those of us who
have enough to think about besides punctuation.
Forming plurals in English
As time has gone on, we have shortened some words and dropped the former
memo and memos used to be memorandum and
With the word data, we no longer see the singular datum
used at all. Data is now often seen with both singular and plural
verbs, although the word is considered strictly plural by purists.
data are being tabulated.
data is useful to the scientists.
Yet other words still retain their original spelling and plural form.
curriculum (singular) and curricula (plural).
Beginning sentences with but, and, because
In “the old days,” you may have been scolded for starting a
sentence with but, and, or because. But you
wouldn’t have deserved that scolding. If you start sentences with
these words, it’s usually a good idea to follow them with independent
But she would never say such a thing!
Because of this bee sting, my arm is swollen.
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