Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dear friends,

I am signing off for the year. As the bustle of the holidays is upon us, I hope that we will each take several moments to be grateful for the abundance that we have and to remember those who do not have enough — enough love, enough hope, enough peace, enough to eat.

It is my prayer that there be peace in our troubled world and that that peace truly begin in each of our hearts.

I will be back in January with more fun and wonderful English stuff. In the meantime, take care and be safe. Enjoy the joys of the season. And may your new year be filled with that which brings joy and peace to your heart and soul.


“Used To” or “Use To”?

So often we are told that, when “used” is past tense, to be sure to include the “d” on “used” with the word “to” after.

…He used to go with her.
…She was used to really good treatment.

The reason we have to be reminded of this is the sound of a “d” at the end of one word and a “t” at the beginning of the next elide; that is, they make one sound.

When the helping verb “did” is in the sentence, there is no “d” on the word “use” just as there is no “d” on any other word with the helping verb “did.”

…He wanted to be in the play.
…He intended to be in the play.
…He used to be in the play.

…He did want to be in the play.
…He did intend to be in the play.
…He did use to be in the play.

…Did he want to go with her?
…Did he intend to go with her?
…Did he use to go with her?

Happy punctuating!


“…Went Into/In To Work…”

Whether it is into or in to depends upon the meaning and part of speech of the word work. If work means the action of doing the job and is therefore a verbal, it is two words, in to. If work is a physical location and is therefore a noun, it is one word, into.

And I don’t think you can always tell the difference in the meaning.

…I went in to work. (the action of doing the job)
…I went into work. (the physical location)

Happy punctuating!


Website Problems

There have been issues with my website over the last couple of weeks. As a “gift” from me to you, any order placed between now and December 31 will receive a 10 percent refunded discount IF YOU EMAIL ME AT THE SAME TIME YOU PLACE YOUR ORDER. You will pay the full amount, and when I receive the email from you that you have placed that order, I will refund (through the website) 10 percent of the purchase price.

Happy punctuating!


Another Off-Beat Dash Rule

When a person finishes a sentence and then decides to add “clarification” in the form of an appositive that renames the subject, the only correct punctuation is a dash.

…We didn’t have the expertise to do that kind of project — my husband and I.
…They came in quietly and said nothing during the meeting — the supervisors.

…It is what we need to do — review the entire file.
…This is what I would like — to go to see him in person.

…That is what he was referring to — that the project was away over budget.
…That is the important thing — that she be in good shape for the tests.

Happy punctuating!


A Not-Very-Well-Known Dash Rule

Most reporters use the dash simply for that ever-present interruption. There are, however, grammar rules associated with the dash.

Here’s one:

When an indefinite pronoun follows ONE word and renames it, there is most often a comma.

When an indefinite pronoun follows MORE THAN ONE word and renames each word, there should be a dash.

…He took medications, some of which helped.
…He took medications, supplements, and vitamins — some of which helped.

…I brought cupcakes, all of which were a hit.
…I brought doughnuts, cupcakes, and banana bread — all of which were a hit.

…She brought her friends, each of whom contributed something.
…She brought her family and friends — each of whom contributed something.

Happy punctuating!


“Thank you”…

As a verb, “thank you” is two words.

…Thank you for all you do.
…I want to thank you for the chocolates.

As a noun, “thank-you” is hyphenated.

…Please send a thank-you to your grandmother.
…We received several thank-yous in the mail.

As a direct adjective (right in front of the noun), “thank-you” is hyphenated.

…I sent a thank-you note.
…It was a nice thank-you message that she left for me.

Happy punctuating!



File Extensions

A recent problem is how to do file extensions when they are said. Though there is really no “rule” for this, I would suggest that you do them just as they appear at the end of the file name. This eliminates having to do something with the “way” the name might be said.

…He sent it as a .jpg, I believe.
…There was nothing I could do with the .pdf in any way.
…She requested it as a .png file.

Happy punctuating!



I think we have done this before, but here it is again.
When words are used inside of parentheses, they are capped, and the punctuation goes inside when the parenthetical is the whole thought. They are not capped and the punctuation goes outside when the parenthetical is part of the larger thought.
…A Right along here (indicating).
…A (Indicating.)
Happy punctuating!