Free Class on the Basics of Commas

Through my just-launched Margie Holds Class, I am going to be offering a free class on Tuesday evening, entitled “What Should I Know About Commas?” Truth be known, I want to practice with my new site and want any of you who might like to spend 45 minutes or so on the basics of commas to join me.

And the good news is — it’s free! Sign up at and enroll for the comma course.

The class will meet Tuesday, March 29, at

6:00 P.M. Pacific time
7:00 P.M. Mountain time
8:00 P.M. Central time
9:00 P.M. Eastern time

You can log in up to a half hour before the start of the class. There will be a handout of the slides that you can print so that you can take notes, if you like.

I hope you will join me for the inaugural class.

Happy punctuating!


Adding the Suffix “-wise”

The rule for adding suffixes is to add them directly to the word to form a solid word. The suffix –wise normally follows this rule.

…We placed it lengthwise along the edge.
…Otherwise, he will not be able to complete it.

This suffix, however, gets added to some words where it was never intended: punctuationwise, doctorwise. How do these words look? Are they readable? We may have to hyphenate the –wise ending if readability becomes an issue.

When adding any suffix to a multiple-word compound, it is hyphenated to the last element.

…real estate-wise…
…social security-wise…

Happy punctuating!


Jim Barker on Whether or Not to Quote

Jim Barker, September of 2014, was asked this question:

“Do you quote when you can’t see the quoted material and you don’t know if they really read it verbatim?”

Jim’s response: “Absolutely. And why is that? Because, when a reporter quotes a speaker who is reading from a document, the reporter is not quoting the words in the ‘document’; the reporter is quoting the ‘speaker’s’ words.

“I further submit that reporters have no responsibility whatsoever to verify the accuracy of quotations offered by a speaker in a legal proceeding, whether those quotations are from a document or are reflective of someone’s spoken words. If the quotation is inaccurate, it is the speaker who is doing the misquoting, and the reporter’s quotation marks are merely indicating that ‘This is what the speaker said.’ In other words, for purposes of the record, a misquote is still a quotation. The responsibility for challenging and/or correcting misquotes lies with the attorneys who are creating the record, not the reporter who is memorializing the words of the parties.”

The one-year anniversary of Jim’s death is next week. How fortunate we are to have his wisdom live on. I miss you, English-loving buddy.

Happy punctuating!


Time Out for a Personal Ad

It’s here! We are launching Margie Holds Class, my very own “school” — after 52 years of teaching, I think it must be time! Seriously, this is a platform on my website, where I will teach all of my online classes. It will eventually hold both my recorded and live classes. For now, this is where we are starting:

My first course, Good Grammar (Finally!), starts on April 3, 2016. The class will meet on Saturdays and/or Sundays through May. It is a 20-hour class that covers the basics of grammar. Your job is so much easier when you know the basics of how the language works.

Register in the school — there is no obligation — and read about the grammar class. From there, you can register for the grammar class. Sign up early to read the course requirements and prepare your computer for the classroom software. Registration is now open and will continue to be available until Sunday, April 3, at noon.

(And we will follow the grammar class with a 20-hour punctuation class.)

You can reach Margie Holds Class by going to and choosing “SCHOOL.” Or you can go to

Happy punctuating!


That Pesky Word “So”

One more time…

The word so is normally an adverb.

…I was so very tired that night.
…He was so cranky at the end of the day.
It can also be a conjunction.
It can be the kind of conjunction that starts a dependent clause and is then a subordinate conjunction (like “because,” “since,” “as,” “before,” “unless.”) There are fifteen of these or so. When it is a subordinate conjunction, it means “so that” or “in order that” and always states the reason for doing something.
…I went to the doctor so I could find out the reason for the pain.
…She called so she could ask about the check.
…He went so he could have dinner with his brother.
When this clause is at the end of the sentence, it takes no punctuation.
Otherwise, as a conjunction, “so” means “therefore.” If you can substitute “therefore,” it is a conjunction that is called a “conjunctive adverb.” That means it is an adverb that has been pulled out to the beginning of a sentence to connect it to the sentence in front of it.
…She had resigned; so she was not there when the melee started.
…I have to be at work until 5:00; so I cannot attend the luncheon.
When it begins a sentence and means “therefore,” it starts a new sentence. The new sentence takes a period or semicolon in front of it.
The word “so” does not ever take a single separating comma in front of it.
And having said all of this, there are people who believe “so” can be like “and.” “And” connects equal things. “So” is just not the same kind of word.

Happy punctuating!


You Cannot “Talk” in Run-Ons

Some people have been making this statement: “The attorney just keeps talking in run-ons.” He said, “We were together, AND she seemed to be distracted, BUT I didn’t say anything to her at the time. AND it was beginning to be irritating, BUT I didn’t want to cause a scene.” When people go on and on and decide to insert and or but between all the sentences, those are NOT run-on sentences.

(And if your question is how many of these to string together before putting a period, the answer is probably no more than four at the very most! It is best to have two or three, and if any one of the sentences is long, then it is best not to put it together with several others.)

And our point here is that run-on sentences are created with bad punctuation. We don’t “say” run-ons. We create run-on sentences by bad punctuation.

A run-on is two independent clauses that have no conjunction between them and are put together with a comma or no punctuation.

…Mr. Andrews took over in May, he came from a rival company. (run-on sentence)
…She had curly hair he had straight hair. (run-on sentence)

These sentences need a period after the first sentence.

Happy punctuating!



Compound words are best kept together on the same line. If the word is real estate or high school, it is best that the first word not be on one line and the second word on the next line. It is best to leave the ZIP code with the state and to leave the time figure with the word o’clock.

It is absolutely mandatory not to put a title (either in front of a name or after) and the name on two lines.

…I worked alongside Dr.
Jonas Nelson last year. 🙁
…We called upon Barry Whitson
III to assist. 🙁

It is absolutely mandatory not to put the month and the date on two lines nor to put the time and A.M. or P.M. on two lines.

…I believe that it occurred on March
6 of last year. 🙁
…We arrived there a little after 8:00
P.M. 🙁

Happy punctuating!