The Quotation Mark and Caps

The rule is that the first word of a quote is capped if it begins a grammatically complete thought or anything that stands for a complete thought. Otherwise, it is lowercase.

…Q  Where were you all headed that morning?
…A  We were headed to work.
…Q  When you say, “We were headed to work,” do you mean to your regular jobs?

…Q  Where were you all headed that morning?
…A  To work.
…Q  When you say, “To work,” do you mean to your regular jobs?

…Q  Where were you all headed that morning?
…A  We were headed to work.
…Q  When you say, “to work,” do you mean your regular jobs?

Happy punctuating!


“Not Only”…”But Also”

“Not only/but (also)” is one of the correlative coordinate conjunctions. It connects grammatically equal parts. The word “also” is often left out or moved to a later position
in the sentence, and it doesn’t make any difference whether it is there or not.

When this combination links two sentences, there is a comma before the “but.” When it
links anything dependent, there is no comma.

…Not only did I see him, but I had a chance to chat with him also.
…She not only doesn’t know that, but no one is willing to tell her.

…She was not only angry but also hurt.
…I visited not only Guadalajara but also Mexico City.

Happy punctuating!



Prefixes: Solid Words or Hyphenated?

The rule is that a prefix is added to the front of a word to make a solid word.


However, when there is already a word that has a different meaning, the prefix should be hyphenated. This usually occurs with the prefix re-.

…He decided the only choice was to resign.
…We returned to the bank to re-sign the papers.

…He was looking for redress for the grievance.
…Her mother demanded that she re-dress for the more formal occasion.

And here is a really fun one.

…The decision was made that the company should be unionized.
…It was an un-ionized element.

Happy punctuating!



Made-Up Words

When a word is made up but it has a normal, regular English spelling, put a pair of
quotes around it rather than using sic or verbatim to point it out as an error.

…She was just acting “obliviated.”
…It had been “dramastically” reduced.

The quotes act to signal that something is different about the word but do not point it out as an “error.”

Some of the words like this actually come to be accepted in the language as regular words.

Happy punctuating!


Capitalization after a Dash and a Colon

Capitalize the first word after a colon only when it begins a complete sentence.

…This is what I want to know: What day did he arrive?
…This is what I want to know: the day he arrived.

…He provided the following data: The date was the 4th at a little after 5:00.
…He provided the following data: the 4th of May at a little after 5:00.

Capitalize the first word after a dash only when the word always has to be capped. (Do not cap for a complete sentence.)

…I was going to see him — it was Friday, June 3 — to ask that question.
…I was going to see him — I think it was Friday, June 3 — to ask that question.

…Were you intending to — was it your intention to complete this?
…Were you intending to — I want to know about your intention to complete this.

Happy punctuating!


“A” Hundred” versus “One” Hundred

When the words are “a” hundred or “a” thousand, there is a problem for the person who
wishes to keep it as close to verbatim as possible. Technically, “a hundred” and “a
thousand” are not numbers and should be transcribed as words.

…It was bigger than a thousand.
…He gave more than a hundred percent of his time.

When this occurs in a string of numbers, you have an editorial decision to make. If you
are going to stick with “a hundred,” then all the numbers have to be in figures. Otherwise,
you are going to transcribe “100” in figures.

Assuming he said “a hundred,

…He sent 45, 76, 98, and 100 of them the first week.
…He sent forty-five, seventy-six, ninety-eight, and a hundred of them the first week.

The decision is yours.

Happy punctuating!



Numbers in the thousands are expressed in figures with a comma and can never be a combination of figures and words.

…sent 45,000…
…received 133,000 of them…
…offered 50,000 for it…

Whether the number is said “fifteen hundred” or “one thousand five hundred,” the
comma is inserted.

…sent 1,500…
…received 3,400…
…offered 2,100…

Happy punctuating!


Plurals of Names

When a surname has the word the in front of it, the name has to be plural — without
regard to how it is pronounced.

…The Millers have a new car.
…We spent the time with the Wilsons.

There is no exception  when the name ends in s or z. Bill and I together are “the Wellses,”
not “the Wells.” If you all get an s for you name, so do we! 🙂

…We rode with the Hodgeses that evening.
…The Burnses are joining us.

Happy punctuating!


/seed/ Words

(Think this may have gone out earlier, but I want to make sure.)

There are twelve words in the language that end with the sound “seed.” There are three different spellings for that sound: -sede, -ceed, and -cede. Here is the breakdown:

supersede (the ONLY word in the language with this spelling)

exceed, succeed, proceed (acroynym ESP to help you remember)

 accede, antecede, cede, intercede, precede, recede, secede, supercede

Happy punctuating!


Noun Clause as the Subject

Take a look at this next to yesterday’s blog. Don’t get them confused.

When a noun clause is the subject of the sentence, do not separate it from the verb with punctuation.

…Whether he is attending is not my concern.
…Whether he is attending the conference on the effects of caffeine on children that is to
take place later this month at the hotel by the airport NO COMMA is not my concern.

…When he will join us at the firm is anybody’s guess.
…When he will join us at the firm to act as a liaison to the international bank that we are
using for the monetary transactions that are involved in this deal NO COMMA is
anybody’s guess.

Happy punctuating!