When you have two complete sentences — also called independent clauses — and you connect them with a conjunction (and, but, or, for, nor, yet, so, for example), you need to insert a comma before the conjunction.
But if the second clause that makes up the sentence is a dependent clause (lacks a subject), no comma is necessary.
These are complete sentences / independent clauses that can stand alone. Each has a subject and verb: Continue →
Sleep late. Go out for coffee and a bagel. Read a newspaper and use a red pen to circle all the punctuation errors. Visit a grocery store and make a list of all the “grocer’s apostrophes” you see (apple’s anyone?).
But I’d rather devote my time and this space to something helpful and constructive for you, my valued readers. Continue →
When you start writing, whether an email, a blog, a report or the next chapter of your book, you don’t want to interrupt your flow by stopping to ponder punctuation. It makes sense to get out your words and thoughts first, postponing punctuation decisions until later.
As you begin to fine-tune your copy, you might get stuck trying to remember what goes inside and what goes outside quotation marks. These tips can help.
In American English, commas and periods always go inside quotation marks, even when quotation marks enclose a single word.Continue →
The two little dots that make up the colon seem pretty simple, but their grammatical use isn’t exactly straightforward.
The colon comes in handy when you want to provide an example or explanation, to cite a quotation, or to introduce a list. A colon implies that what follows it is related to what precedes it.
One of the most-asked questions I get about grammar rules that relate to the colon is whether to capitalize the first word that follows it. Style guides differ, but The Associated Press Stylebook, my preferred source, suggests: Continue →
Although it has been a couple of weeks since Warren Beatty’s February 26 Oscar flub, I’m still seeing advice about how he should have handled it. This hit my email box from a newsletter I subscribe to that offers tips and advice for speakers: Continue →
I love writing, rewriting, and rewriting a sentence or paragraph until it says exactly what I want it to say in the manner I want to say it — commas, em dashes, capital letters, italics and all.
It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone.
In celebration of March 4 National Grammar Day 2017, I offer this selection of thoughts by like-minded people who agree: Yes, grammar still matters.
“Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.”
— Jeffrey Gitomer, American author and business trainer Continue →
Grammar encompasses the words we use as well as how we string them together and punctuate them. Confusion about comma use abounds.
My book, Grammar for People Who Hate Rules, addresses four scenarios of this often used — and often misused — punctuation mark: with Latin abbreviations (chapter 29), with academic degrees (chapter 30), with conjunctions (chapter 41), and with but (chapter 42).
This post focuses on commas when they are used to separate clauses, both independent and dependent. Continue →