Tag Archives: punctuation

Common Comma Error: Conjunction ‘and’ Doesn’t Always Need One

Play and teach guitar: When do you need a comma?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

Like it? Share it!

Apostrophe: Descriptive or Possessive?

If you are a golfer or a fan, you probably know that the Presidents Cup was played in New Jersey from Sept. 26–Oct. 1. The United States team handily won the coveted cup.

You might wonder why there is no apostrophe in the event’s title. Why isn’t it President’s Cup or Presidents’ Cup?

Here’s the reason:

Some words that might appear to be possessive are simply descriptive. Neither the Presidents Cup as an event nor the cup as an award denotes that any president possesses or owns it. Continue

Like it? Share it!

3 Quiz Questions for National Punctuation Day

man with coffee ponders punctuationSunday, Sept. 24, 2017, is National Punctuation Day.

How will you celebrate?

I’ve thought about spending the day as founder Jeff Rubin suggested:

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

Like it? Share it!

Periods and Commas Are Ultimate Insiders

www.RuthlessEditor.comWhen 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

Like it? Share it!

Punctuating With the Colon: Do’s and Don’ts

www.RuthlessEditor.comThe 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

Like it? Share it!

Happy National Grammar Day! (Yes, grammar still matters)

www.RuthlessEditor.comI’m a shameless grammar geek!

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

Like it? Share it!

Comma Confusion Clarified

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

Like it? Share it!

As Language Evolves, Should You Follow The Trends?

dictionary_new_wordsLanguage continually evolves. At this time of year in particular, we consider words that have emerged to describe new fields, new products or new phenomena.

The Oxford English Dictionary listed 1,346 new words as of September 2016. Yikes!

nws.merriam-webster.com has introduced new words and slang from 2016. Submitted by the public, some are clever and useful, others are simply silly, and some are grammatically unsound.

Like it? Share it!