“Farther” and “Further”

The word far is compared as farther/further and with the superlative farthest/furthest.

Farther/farthest are physically measurable distances.

…We walked two miles farther today.
…She drove farther on Monday than today.

Further/furthest are not physically measurable.

…This discussion is going no further.
…She carried the relationship further than she had intended.

Happy punctuating!


Prepositional Phrase

The terms “essential/nonessential” NEVER apply to a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases that are adjectives tend to be right after the word they modify; prepositional phrases that are adverbs can float around in the sentence. One prepositional phrase that just modifies rarely has punctuation.

…The man in the red shirt is my dad.
…The car near mine was also damaged.

…We listened to his speech for an hour.
…Did you see him at the stadium at any time?

Happy punctuating!



The dictionary shows full-time hyphenated as an adverb.

…He works full-time.
…She was there full-time.

As an adjective, it follows the rules: Hyphenate it as a direct adjective; do not hyphenate it when it is not in front of the noun.

…He has a full-time job.
…His job is full time.

Part-time follows these same rules.

Happy punctuating!


Dependent Clauses

This is an email question from yesterday.

……Okay. Now, you told us, Ms. Ryan — right? — at one point you got up [, or ;] you left the room [, or ;] and you went to the bathroom. Is that right?

Amid all the other punctuation issues, the question is do we need semicolons or commas between the three elements at the end? It is easy to get distracted by all that stuff in the front of the sentence.

If we clear everything out, the sentence is “You told us you got up, you left the room, and you went to the bathroom.” Looked at like that, these are clearly dependent clauses with the word “that” missing each time. Therefore, it is a series of dependent clauses that needs commas between the elements.

And because of all of the other punctuation, a period before “is that right?” is best.

We just have so many opportunities to have fun!

Happy punctuating!


Apostrophe or Hyphen

When there is a quantity, measurement, distance, value, amount that is expressed as a direct adjective (right in front of a noun) AND there is an “s” on the adjective, use an apostrophe “s” when it is singular and an “s” apostrophe when it is plural.

…one minute’s delay
…five minutes’ delay

…one week’s vacation
…two weeks’ vacation

When there is no “s,” use a hyphen.

…one-week vacation
…five-minute delay

When there is an adjective rather than a noun after the combination, there is no apostrophe or hyphen.

…seven months pregnant
…one month long

Happy punctuating!


…Years Old

If someone’s age is being described and there is no noun that is being modified, there are no hyphens.

…He is five years old.
…She is 55 years old.

When the combination becomes a direct adjective (right in front of the noun), it is hyphenated. In this case, we say “year” instead of “years.” That does not make a difference to the punctuation.

…Charlie is a five-year-old child.
…The patient is a 55-year-old adult female.

When the combination is a noun, it is hyphenated because “-old” is a combining form.

…The five-year-old was not injured.
…The victim was a 55-year-old male.

Happy punctuating!


Plurals of Names

When making a title and name plural, there are some options. Obviously you need to take into account how it is said.

Two people named Smith

…the two Messrs. Smith
…the two Mr. Smiths

…the two Mmes. Smith
…the two Mrs. Smiths

…the two Misses Smith
…the two Miss Smiths

…the two Mss. Smith
…the two Ms. Smiths

Happy punctuating!