Following Up on the Word “That”

The word “that” is a problem in a clause in that it doesn’t always have something that it is doing in the clause it starts and can therefore be left out. It is equally correct to say.

…I know that he was there.
…I know he was there.

When an adverb clause is dropped in after “that” in this sentence, the adverb clause needs to be surrounded by commas.

…I know that, when she came in, he was there.

If we were to take out the adverb clause, the sentence would go back to “I know that he was there.” Thus two commas are necessary. There is nothing being separated in this sentence.

The problem is that bad grammar sometimes puts “that” in front or in back or in both places with respect to that adverb clause. In any event, the commas surround the adverb clause.

“Bad grammar/good punctuation.” [I have heard that before somewhere!]

…I know that, when she came in, he was there.
…I know, when she came in, that he was there.
…I know that, when she came in, that he was there.
…I know, when she came in, he was there.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

“That” — Do We Need a Comma? — “I Don’t Remember”

 

This construction has the grammar elements turned around and out of order. The word “that” is the direct object, which has been pulled out to the front of the sentence. If the direct object were longer, it would absolutely have to have the comma.
 
…The name of the man who waited on me that night, I don’t remember.
…The name of the man who waited on me, I don’t remember.
…The name of the man, I don’t remember.
 
When it gets down to just one word, the comma is based on whether you think it could be misread.
 
…The name I don’t remember.
…The name, I don’t remember.
 
I think a comma here works best so that the meaning is clear.
 
In the example being discussed, because it could be a “that” clause without the comma, I think it should have the comma — again, to prevent misreading.
Happy punctuating!
Margie

Commas for an Adverb Clause in the Middle

When an adverb clause comes in the middle of what it modifies, it takes commas around it. When the element it modifies is inside another dependent clause, the adverb clause still takes commas around it.

…He will be given a fine unless, when he calls, he gives us a reason for his absence.
…I left the company because, though I had been there for 20 years, I did not feel appreciated.

…I met a man who, after we talked for a while, seemed perfect for the project.
…We were with a cousin who, if you want a dynamite employee, is the person for you.

And when the adverb clause comes in the middle of a “that” clause, it has commas around it even when the “that” is there twice or is not there at all or is in front or is in back.

… I don’t remember that, when I was there, he asked that question.
… I don’t remember that, when I was there, that he asked that question.
… I don’t remember, when I was there, that he asked that question.
… I don’t remember, when I was there, he asked that question.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Capping After the Dash

Do not cap a word after a dash unless it always has to be capped.

…He was on his way to — to visit her in the hospital.
…She helped him to — helped her to the couch after she fell.

When there is a complete chance of topic after the dash, paragraph the next sentence. Of course, the paragraphed sentence is capped.

…A     He was on his way to —
I believe that he worked nearby and that he was on his way to work.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Good Grammar (Finally) — The Class

Here is the information on my upcoming online grammar class.

The class is a total of 1.5 CEU’s, divided up into six sessions of two and a half hours each. Each session has been prequalified for CEUs through NCRA. If you cannot attend a session and wish to receive CEUs, you may listen to the recording and write a detailed summary of the content and submit it to me.

The material will be available to all those registered for two weeks after the last session of the class.

Registration will  open on April 1 and continue until 6:00 P.M. on Friday, May 2.

This class is open to anyone who wants to improve his/her grammar knowledge.

Good Grammar (Finally)

Description: Knowing how the language works makes everything about punctuating and turning out a transcript easier. There is no question that grammar is where it all begins. Has it been a while since you have had a basic grammar class? Or did you ever have one?

In this 15-hour class, we will look at

  • Language elements (words, phrases, and clauses)
  • Verbs (person, number, tense, mood, and voice) and verb usage
  • Nouns and pronouns (how they function in the sentence, subject/verb agreement, pronoun case form) and usage
  • Adjectives and adverbs (what they do and how they work) and common mistakes in their usage
  • Connecting words (prepositions and conjunctions)
  • Parts of speech

Could we have more fun in 15 hours? I think not. Join us for a chance to brush up on skills that may be long dead — a crucial class for every reporter, scopist, and proofreader.

This class will be offered through ev360 on the following dates and times.

May 3, Sunday, 4:00 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. Pacific time

May 16, Saturday, 8:00 A.M. – 10:30 A.M. Pacific time

May 17, Sunday, 4:00 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. Pacific time

May 31, Sunday, 4:00 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. Pacific time

June 13, Saturday, 8:00 A.M. – 10:30 A.M. Pacific time

June 14, Sunday, 4:00 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. Pacific time

The Participle

A participle that immediately follows the word it modifies is punctuated according to essential/nonessential.

…It was my friend sitting on the end of the row that won the prize.

…It was John Jones, sitting on the end of the row, that won the prize.

If the participle is down the line in the sentence — that is, removed — it generally takes a comma in front of it.

…She sat next to the door, scowling at everyone.
…The report from the auditor, presented here as Exhibit 2, is flawed.

If the participle is at the beginning of the sentence, it always takes a comma.

…Smiling, she left the office in a rush.
…Frustrated by the job, he decided to talk with the boss.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

“The Reason Is…”

Once you use the word “reason,” the words why, on account of, due to, because are all extraneous — and wrong! “Reason” is enough.

…The reason is because he… NO!
…The reason why is he… NO!
…The reason is on account of his… NO!
…The reason is due to his… NO!

…The reason is I didn’t have the money.
…The reason is that he was not there.

Just a little work on our grammar! 🙂

Happy punctuating!

Margie

The Word “So”

When the word so means “therefore,” it starts a new sentence and takes a semicolon or period in front of it and no single comma after it because it is only one syllable.
…We left early; so I missed his phone call.
…The company had already fired him; so there was nothing I could do to help.
…The blue car ran the signal; so the accident was inevitable.
Absolute rule.
Happy punctuating!
Margie