“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 punctuating!


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 mirrors — right, left, and rearview — were coordinated.

Happy punctuating!


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 to want dashes. They are just not necessary Just put a question mark. The question is “What were you?” or “You were what?”

Happy punctuating!


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 punctuating!

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 its nature is to be a noun.

…He spent 20 minutes.
“Minutes,” along with “20,” tells how long, making “minutes” an adverb, though it is a noun by nature.

“A while” falls into this category.

…We spent a while with her.
“A while,” a noun and an article by nature, combine to answer an adverb question, “how long.”

Anybody up for a good, old-fashioned grammar class online this winter and spring??? Let me know.

Happy punctuating!


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 rest of the world does not.]

…They are ID’ing him as we speak.
…We will be Outback’ing it tonight.

Happy punctuating!


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.

…We ordered 12 burgers, 15 hotdogs, and 4 cheese steaks.

Happy punctuating!


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 is a comma.

…The house which is next to mine is very large.
…The dog which is pictured here is a rescue dog

…Maria’s house, which is next to mine, is very large.
…My dog, which is pictured here, is a rescue dog.

Happy punctuating!