Starting a Sentence with “And”

There is no problem starting a sentence with the word and. Though we would not
necessarily choose to start a short sentence with and, it is not incorrect. When many sentences are strung together with and between them, you must call a halt and start a
sentence with and. The rule of thumb is no more than three separate sentences before you
use a period.

…She was walking near the tracks, and she did not seem to be having any problems, and
she noticed the sound of a train. And she didn’t pay a lot of attention, and then she began
to walk right on the track. And she felt a vibration in the tracks, and she knew a train was coming. And she still didn’t seem to react to it, and she kept walking.

Parallel Construction and the Semicolon

…I arrived on Saturday; he arrived on Sunday.
…He resigned in 2010; she resigned in 2011.
…The first train leaves at 5:00 A.M.; the last train leaves at 10:00 P.M.

The Rule: When two sentences have NO conjunction between them and have parallel grammatical construction, use a semicolon between them.

This question always arises: Could I use a period? My answer is always why would you
pass up the opportunity to use a semicolon? This is one of the absolute semicolon rules.

Use a semicolon here! It belongs here! This is your chance! Be sophisticated!

Happy punctuating!


The Word “Therefor”

This word — no e on the end — means “for that thing” and is always used when referring
to having exchanged money or goods or property for something else. It often comes
toward the end of the sentence.

…I paid him $3,000 therefor.
…She received a payment of $15,000 therefor.

Check out my word pairs book!

Happy punctuating!


Periods and Commas and Quotes

Periods and commas go inside of quotes WITHOUT ANY EXCEPTIONS in the entire language. Whether it is one word or one letter or a number or a long quote, the period and the comma go inside.

…When you added the letter “s,” did it make a difference?
…When she said, “You have to leave me alone,” what was your response?

…You used the word “hero.”
…That number ends in “749.”

Happy punctuating!



The “d” on “Used To”

This question came up on FB.

When the letter t and the letter d are inside a word, they sound the same: ladder/latter, shudder/shutter, conceited/conceded. When the d ends one word and t starts the next word, they elide into one sound:

…talked to her…
…listened to the recording…

In the combination with “used to” and “supposed to,” this causes a problem. Be sure to add the “d” to the end of the verb in these combinations.

However, when the helping verb “did” comes into the picture, there is no “d” on “use.”

…He used to go with us.
…Did he use to go with us?

Happy punctuating!


Quotes for a Made-Up Word

When a word is made up but has all the characteristics of an English word —
dramastically, considerated
— spell it correctly and use a pair of quotes around it. There
is not a need to use sic. The quotes alert your reader that it is not really a word but that it
is what was said.

…She was really “obliviated” when we were discussing it.
…It came up while we were “conversating.”
…My boss told me to “statementize” the client.

Happy punctuating!


The Word “What”

When someone tacks the word what onto the end of a question, it should stand alone as
its own question.

…Was it given to you as a gift? What?
…Were you there alone? with someone? What?
…Did the company have benefits? profit sharing? What?

When someone turns a “what” question around, punctuate it just as you would the
question in regular word order. This is just “bad grammar/good punctuation.”

…What was it? A Toyota?
…It was what? A Toyota?

…What was her name?
…Her name was what?

Happy punctuating!


“Like, it is, like, wrong, like, without, like, commas!!!”

If the word like is a verb that means “fond of” or it is a preposition that compares, it is
being used correctly.

…I like being outdoors in the early morning.
…She likes chocolate.

…Like my mother, I have blue eyes.
…She is not like him in any way.

In ALL other contexts (including when it is trying to mean “around”), it is a thowaway,
means nothing, is more than annoying, and must have commas around it — NO

…It was, like, after 4:00.
…We were, like, really busy tonight at, like, work.
…There were, like, five that, like, had to be, like, redone before, like, we could, like, use
them, like.

Happy punctuating!


“Not Only/But Also”

These words are called “correlative conjunctions.” Like their counterpart coordinate conjunctions, they link grammatically equal parts. The word also can be moved to later in
the construction, or it can be omitted entirely.

…not only John but also Bill…
…not only John but Bill also…
…not only John but Bill…

When these link two sentences, there is a comma before but also. When they link  dependent construction, there is no comma.

…Not only did I see him, but also I had a chance to talk to him.
…Not only were we together Friday, but we also spent Saturday together.

…I went to not only France but also England when I was there.
…Not only Marilyn but also Joan decided to join us.

Happy punctuating!