Numbers and Other Things That Denote a List

Remember that a number or word that denotes an item in a list must be surrounded by punctuation. Sometimes that punctuation is something other than commas.

…in Indiana; two, in California; three, in Florida…
…was 54,000; two, 34,000…

If the number comes in the middle of the sentence, it must be surrounded by punctuation, usually commas.

…government; and, third, the President…
…small car; and, lastly, we were…
…good book; and, fifth, part of the…

…because of, one, income and, two, taxes…
…was, one, on the counter and, two, on the floor and, three, on the desk…

Happy punctuating!


The Word “Although”

The word although is like since and if, not like therefore and however.

The word although is a subordinate conjunction, not a conjunctive adverb.

The word although does not take a semicolon before it and a comma after it.

…saw them; although, they were… πŸ™
…win it; although, the team did not… πŸ™

…We still saw them although they were fairly well hidden. πŸ™‚
…They did win it although the team did not play well. πŸ™‚

Happy punctuating!


Ellipses for Trailing Off…

The use of ellipses to show trailing off has gained favor in many segments of the court reporting community.Β  Many reporters express a desire to distinguish between a speaker who trails off and a speaker who is interrupted.

The dash in English shows broken sentence structure.Β  It does not matter how the structure gets broken.Β  It simply shows that a sentence did not get finished.Β  Its use is not restricted to just an interruption. The dash to show that a sentence did not get finished is ALWAYS correct.

Though in English ellipses are generally reserved for indicating that something has been left out that was included in the original, usually used inside of quotes, their use showing trailing off is supported by Merriam-Webster’s Eleventh by the following:Β  β€œmark or marks indicating an omission or a pause.”

There was a recent case in court, reported by a local court reporter, in which the judge admonished an attorney for the number of times he interrupted the witness during a prior deposition in the case.Β  This would certainly give justification for making a distinction between being interrupted and trailing off.

Other options for trailing off — such as a dash followed by a period, a dash with the space in front of it omitted, et cetera — are to be avoided.

Happy punctuating!



Just a brief pause to express my gratitude for the blessings of my life. Thank you to each one of you who have supported me and my career. I appreciate you.

Wishing for each of you a day filled with blessings and being surrounded by those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving.



A Parenthetical

I was recently asked about surrounding “for one” in the sentence “I for one want to….”Β  If the reason for commas is that “for one” is a parenthetical, then the answer is no commas.

Remember that an element which is truly a parenthetical has to able to fit anywhere in the sentence AND fit into any sentence that you use. If you want commas because it is a parenthetical, then these two criteria must be met.

Take “at the time” as a possible parenthetical. We could probably put in anywhere in the sentence where we are using it.

…At the time, we had to take her to the hospital. (This comma is for clarity so that we do not misread the subject and verb as part of a clause modifying time.)
…We had at the time to take her to the hospital.
…We had to take her at the time to the hospital.
…We had to take her to the hospital at the time.

Though some of these might be a bit awkward, there are no commas required.

However, “at the time” does not fit into any sentence we might say.

…I wish you at the time a Happy Thanksgiving.
…The exhibit at the time is to be marked 5.
…When did he call you at the time?

Since it doesn’t really fit in these sentences, it is not a true parenthetical and does not need commas around it in any of the sentences.

Remember that an element can have commas around it for reasons other than being a parenthetical.

The answer is “I for one do not…” does not need commas.

Happy punctuating!



Just Some Stuff This Morning

When someone says “quote/unquote,” use a slash mark in between the words. Surround them with appropriate punctuation. Use the quote marks also.

When the attorney says “okay” before he starts a question — more or less a response to the last answer — English says to paragraph after “okay” as it is a thought of its own. (Some reporters do not do this because of the appearance of padding.)

Numbers that are in the thousands should have the comma:

…5,400 of them…
…$6,500 worth of them…

This is not dependent upon how it is said.

Happy punctuating!


Plural Possessives

Remember the rule: When the plural form of a word ends in s — most of them do — add only an apostrophe to this PLURAL form of the word to make it possessive. So in order to have s apostrophe, the base form must be a plural form.

…each others’ cars… πŸ™
…one anothers’ cars… πŸ™

Thus these forms cannot be correct since there is no each others and no one anothers.

These forms always have to be singular possessive:

…each other’s cars…
…one another’s cars…

Happy punctuating!


More on “Two or None”

There are many places that one comma will not do as there is not a need to separate anything. In these places, IF there is a need for punctuate, it is a choice of two commas or no commas.

…He has specifically changed the wording for the brochure…
There is no place for one comma. Do we need two commas with “specifically” or no commas?

…Has she at any time mentioned his drug use?
There is no place for one comma. Do we need two commas with “at any time” or no commas?

…He has, however, changed the wording for the brochure…
There is no place for one comma. Do we need two commas with “however” or no commas?

…Has she, by the way, mentioned his drug use?
There is no place for one comma. Do we need two commas with “by the way” or no commas?

Happy punctuating!


“Two Commas or No Commas”

No matter how many commas there are in a transcript nor how many different ways they are used, there are, in fact, only two basic ways that we use commas: commas to separate or commas to set off. We use a single separating comma to push two elements apart, or we set an element off with a pair of commas. Every comma rule fits into one of these two uses of the comma.

…was a lively, energetic debate…
…saw the difficult, difficult time he was having…
…We sent it on Friday, and it was received later that weekend.

…on Friday, May 9, during the early morning hours…
…her family doctor, Dr. Ryan, was…
…came in with Ross, not Hanson, to the reunion…

While there are many places that a single comma needs to be used to separate two elements, there are places where you must either surround the element with commas or use no commas at all. This is where the “two commas or no commas” expression comes from.

Two or none:
…I noticed somewhat later, that he… πŸ™
…I noticed somewhat later that he… πŸ™‚

Two or none:
…Are you saying then, that you… πŸ™
…Are you saying, then, that you… πŸ™‚

Two or none:
…And again, we were… πŸ™
…And, again, we were… πŸ™‚
…And again we were… πŸ™‚

So though you often need a single separating comma between two elements, you are often choosing between using two commas or no commas.

Happy punctuating!