“Ought” Versus “Aught”

When someone says the word “aught” meaning “zero,” it is spelled with an “a.” It is an old word that means “zero.” In the early 1900s, many people referenced those first years as “aught six,” transcribed “06.” There is an expression “for aught I care,” which today is most often said “for all I care.” It is never “ought.” Happy …

Commas Around Them, Commas Inside Them

When elements that have commas around them also have commas within them, the commas around them change to dashes. …If it has misspellings — whether they be medications, medical terms, or names — you’ll end up having to change them yourself. …The men who helped us — Ron, Ross, Ralph, and Manny — volunteered on their own. …All of the …

Just a Reminder About That Hyphen…

When hyphenating a prefix to a compound noun that is separate words and is being used as an adjective, hyphenate the prefix to the first word of the compound noun. …pre-social security days… …anti-money laundering scheme… …post-National Weather Service announcement… Happy punctuating! Margie

“Couldn’t Help But…”

A little grammar for the day. Remember that “but” has to connect two equal things. Thus “I couldn’t help but think…” and “I couldn’t help but feel…” just doesn’t work. …I couldn’t help thinking… …I couldn’t help feeling… Happy punctuating! Margie

When “What” Is at the End

…You were a what? A supervisor? …It was a what? A Toyota? My contention is that these questions are just turned around from what they should be. Instead of “What were you?” and “What was it?” the order is reversed. It is just bad grammar (to which we apply good punctuation). Whenever the question comes up, there is a tendency …

Comma After “Or”

When an attorney puts two questions (often unrelated) together with an or, you have two choices for punctuation. Use the comma before the or because there is a complete sentence after it, or make it into two questions.   …Are you just living at home, or are you employed? …Are you just living at home? Or are you employed? Happy …

The Ever-Elusive Adverbial Objective

There is something in English called an “adverbial objective.” It is a noun that answers an adverb question.…I will see you tomorrow.“Tomorrow” is a noun that in this sentence is answering “when,” an adverb question. Since part of speech is determined solely by usage, “tomorrow” is being used as an adverb and therefore is an adverb in this sentence, though …

Apostrophe “d”

When an abbreviation or a proper name is used as a verb, add apostrophe d for the ending. …It was later discovered that he had OD’d. …We Prius’d it for the night instead of taking the big car. When an “-ing” is needed, use apostrophe ing for the ending. [Remember that, though reporters think of the g as an “ing,” …

The Consistency Rule

The consistency rule applies for numbers applies to number that measure “like” items and that are in the “same area of the transcript.” It does not say that all numbers in the same sentence have to look alike.…There were 4 boys and 15 girls.…There were 15 girls in four cars. …There were two of us when it started at 2:00. …

Which is…

“Which is/are” begins an adjective clause. If the clause is necessary to define the word it modifies and could not be removed without losing communication, then there is no comma before it. If the clause contains information which is nice to know but does not really define the word it modifies and is not really necessary to the meaning, there …