“May 5, 2013, Letter” — or Drop the Second Comma??

One last comment on this: We have only two basic ways that we use commas. Every comma we use falls into one of two categories:

ONE comma pushes things apart. It is the “separating” comma. It is put in so that two things do not pile up on each other. So we put one comma between the month and the year because we don’t want these two to pile up on each other.

…on March 10, 2013.

TWO commas (or maybe some other mark of punctuation but two total) says that we are setting something off. The basic concept here is that an item is surrounded because we could take it out of the sentence and still have a grammatically intact sentence left. That is the bottom line for what a pair of commas means. One of the things we surround is the year when it comes after the month and date.

…on March 10, 2013, when we…

We don’t change this when the full date becomes an adjective.

One comma implies that we want to separate “March 10” from “2013 letter.”

…We sent the March 10, 2013 letter to your office.

The implication is that “March 10” is one unit that needs to be separated from “2013 letter to your office.”

If we surround “2013” and can lift it out, we have a grammatically complete thought left.

…We sent the March 10 letter to our office.

This rule simply follows the way we use commas.

Hope this helps explain the rule.

Happy punctuating!


Ordinal Numbers in a Date

All dates are transcribed in figures.

When the ordinal is added to a date when said — …on May 5th… — it is not good grammar. It is not correct to say the month and date and add the ordinal to the date. Whether you are going to transcribe it with the ordinal depends on how “verbatim” you are going to be.

When the month is not said, the ordinal, of course, is correct.

…on the 5th of May…
…came on the 5th…
…on May the 5th…

Happy punctuating!


The Word “Church”

Capitalization for the word church is as follows:

Cap church when it is part of the title of a church organization.

…went to the First Baptist Church…
…drove past Holy Nativity Episcopal Church…

Cap church when it is the entity — used mostly for the Catholic denomination:

…know that the Church is against abortion…
…do not think the Church will change its stand on women priests…

Cap church when it is a party to a lawsuit:

…claimed that the Church violated the rights of…

Do not cap church when it refers to the building or people when it is not part of a name:

…know there is a Presbyterian church nearby…
…think the church is in a state of disrepair…

Happy punctuating!



The Dash

Just the basic rules for the dash. It is the third one that many people don’t always remember.

There are three basic reasons to use a dash:

1. broken sentence structure (This is where the interruption fits.)
2. full sentence dropped into another full sentence

…I want to read to you from — can you hear me? — your deposition on May 5.
…I want to read to you from — this is page 15 — your deposition on May 5.

3. summary dash

…They insert the needle directing into the brain — a scary thought.
…We left early that morning — John and I.
…That is what I was talking about — that he is not ever on time.

Happy punctuating!


“Each Other” and “One Another”

There is a grammar principle here:

Use each other with two; use one another with three or more.

Remember that, when making a word possessive, everything in front of the apostrophe has to be a word. So when these are made possessive, it has to be each other’s and one another’s since there isn’t a word “each others” or “one anothers.”

…John and Joe had each other’s phone numbers.
…They all had one another’s phone numbers.

Happy punctuating!


“Turn Into”

This particular phrase, turn into, is an idiom which means “to become.”

…When he drinks, he turns into a monster.

So with the word turn, unless the meaning is “to become,” in to has to be two words.

…He turned in to the driveway.
…He turned in to the roadway.


…He pulled into the driveway.
…He pulled into the roadway.

Happy punctuating!