Starting a Sentence with “And”

When that fourth-grade teacher told you not to start a sentence with and, s/he was referring to the fact that you stuck and in between every sentence. S/he clearly did not know you would grow up and be a court reporter and have to deal with witnesses who string many sentences together with and.

When faced with the “narrative answer,” you are forced to start a new sentence — maybe even a paragraph — with the word and. The rule of thumb is no more than three sentences put into one. And after six to eight typed lines, it is time to start a new paragraph — even if it means starting the paragraph with the word and.

…The man was driving rather erratically, and he turned left immediately in front of a car, and he seemed totally unaware of the traffic around him. And I observed him as he pulled into a driveway in an attempt to make a U-turn, and he backed out without even seeming to notice the cars. And he escaped hitting any other cars because of the actions of other drivers, and they are the ones that saved him from disaster.

And he continued…

Happy punctuating!


“A While” Is Always Okay!

There is no need to be a quandary over awhile versus a while. It can always be two words.

It has to be two words after a preposition and in “a while ago” and “a while back.”

…there for a while…
…called in a while…
…saw him a while ago…
…remember it from a while back…

English has something called an “adverbial objective.” It is a noun that can be used as an adverb. A while is a noun and can be used to answer the question “how long,” which is an adverb. It is two words as a noun.

…spent a while with him…
…together a while there…

Dilemma solved! Take awhile out of your dictionary. It is always correct as two words.

Happy punctuating!


Okay. A Comma?

Okay is one of those words that peppers the speech patterns of many people. Here is the scoop on okay.

If it comes at the beginning of a sentence, follow it with a period. It stands by itself and is not attached to anything around it.

…Okay. Did you see them…?
…Okay. Fine. Are you saying that…?

…Okay. We were not there when….
…All right. Okay. I don’t think they….

If it comes at the end of a sentence, it takes a period/interrog in front of it. It is not like correct and right. It is not asking “Is it okay that he was there at 10:00?” A semicolon won’t work.

…You had not entered into that agreement. Okay.
…We have established that, from your point of view, she was difficult. Okay.

If the intonation leads you to believe okay is asking a question of its own at the end of a sentence, follow it with an interrog. This is “You had to be there” punctuation. You have to hear the intonation.

…You are saying he broke it into pieces. Okay?
…The impression I have is that the dog seemed to be roaming free. Okay?

When okay comes in the middle of the sentence and is asking a valid question, surround it with a pair of dashes with an interrog after it.

…The question is whether she was — okay? — working diligently.

When okay is a throwaway similar to you know and like, surround it with commas.

…We were standing, okay, next to the, you know, hall door, okay, and were, like, intending to go in, okay, when we could.

Happy punctuating!


Thoughts on the Word “O’clock”

We have differing opinions about the word o’clock and the :00. Some of us were taught that o’clock should be transcribed as “:00” by those wonderful, hard-working teachers of our youth [always have to put in a plug for teachers]. Others of us go by the verbatim mantra: If a word was said, I transcribe it.

The problem is compounded by the English rules on how “times” should be transcribed: 4, 4:00, four. The formal English rules include each one as being correct under certain circumstances.

In our era of searchable documents and the removal of the need to “thumb through” every page to locate something, I believe we have to think differently about transcribing times. If the attorney is looking to verify what time the witness said something happened, then he is going to electronically search the document for a time. How does he do that if the time is expressed in varying ways? Think of what he would find if he is searching for “one” and uses the word.

For this reason, I recommend that all times that are on the hour be transcribed with the “:00” with no exceptions for what may have added to it. Then the attorney can always find a time he is searching for.

…arrived at 4:00…
…arrived at 4:00 P.M….
…arrived at 4:00 o’clock… (because he said the word)

Just an opinion.

Happy punctuating!


Everyone/Every One — Which to Choose?

The “one” words:

No one is always two words.

Everyone, anyone, someone are one word when they refer to a random person. (They are called “indefinite pronouns.”)

…I need someone to help me.
…They aren’t allowing anyone to enter the blockaded area.
…Everyone was included in the invitation.

These words are separate words when they refer to anything other than a random/indefinite person. When everyone, anyone, or someone is followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with of, it is always two words.

…I considered three different cars. Any one would be okay.
…She has a large collection of books. She has read every one.
…Twelve people applied. Some one of them will be hired.

Happy punctuating.


…I object to his being here… and Other Correct Forms

Sometimes we “like” something that is not correct just because so many people say it incorrectly that we have become used to it. The who/whom question comes to mind. Many do not use these correctly because there are so few modeling them correctly.

The “possessive in front of the gerund” is one such thing.

The gerund  is the “-ing” form of the verb used as a noun.

…Reading is my favorite pastime. (“Reading” is the subject of the sentence.)
…I enjoy reading. (“Reading” is the direct object.)
…He is tired of reading about it. (“Reading” is the object of the preposition.)

The rule for the noun or pronoun form in front of the gerund is that it is in the possessive case.

…I enjoy John’s reading to me.
…I enjoy his reading to me.
Enjoying John is different from enjoying his reading.

…I am tired of Mr. Martin’s trying to convince me.
…I am tired of his trying to convince me.
You are not necessarily tired of Mr. Martin.

…There is a necessity of its being correct.
…It is a result of our caring about her.

Happy punctuating!


What About Philly? Was It Terrific?

Oh, yes, it was. The many hugs were the best part.

Great to see old friends; great to meet new people.

Thanks for your hard work, Doug. Tami, you are going to have a great year! We are behind you.

CCR people, I have missed you — fun to see you and get to chat at least a little. Pizza party was the highlight.

I had a great time at my punctuation workshop. I am sure that we had the most fun of anyone who attended any seminar. Thanks to all who chose to spend the day with commas and quotes and the like!

To all of you who came by the booth, great to see you. Thanks for liking the book and downloading my app. And thanks to my brother who did most of the work.

And, yes, the title of this blog is punctuated perfectly. What about… and how about…, idiomatic in nature, are used to ask questions. There is an interrog after, and the second question stands on its own.

…What about John? Was he there?
…How about the meal? Did you finish it?

Happy punctuating!


Philly, Here We Come!

Leaving in the morning for Philadelphia! If you are going to be there, I hope you will come by Booth 307 and say hi — or catch my workshop on Friday. It will be great fun to see/meet you all.

Don’t forget that I am doing two seminars here in Los Angeles: August 18 and August 25, 6700 West 83rd Street in Westchester (near LAX). Register here on the website.

Happy punctuating!


“Handicap Parking” and Other Errors

Drove about 12 miles today to my stepdaughter’s house for a family get-together.

“Handicap Parking” at a church: Nope. It is handicapped parking.

“Oversize Load” on the back of a truck: Nope. It is oversized load.

These are both participles. Participles end in “-ed” or “-ing” for these regular verbs.

“Less Than Ten Items” at the market: Nope. Less is for things that cannot be counted; fewer is for things that can be counted.

…less space…
…less power…
…less hair…

…fewer seats…
…fewer tomatoes…
…fewer dishes…

So it has to be “fewer items.”

Just sayin’.

Happy punctuating.