Upcoming Punctuation Class

Just checking in to remind you that the punctuation class is starting this Saturday. This is your chance to put all of those rules into some sort of order so that they hang together better — without paying the big bucks to travel and even in your pajamas and with your own snacks! The class has been prequalified for 2 full CEUs through NCRA. And if you don’t want to or cannot be in “live” online classes, there is an option to listen to the recordings on your own time but without CEUs. Check out all the details on margieholdsclass.com.

Hope you will join us for a fun couple of months of looking at our beautiful language.

Happy punctuating!


A Period or a Question Mark?

When the witness repeats the question or part of the question and then answers it, use a question mark after the question and let the rest of the answer stand on its own.

…Q   Was it after 10:00 that he called that night?
…A    Was it after 10:00? Yes.

…Q   What was the attire for the meeting?
…A   What was the attire? It was business attire.

…Q   Were you there alone?
…A    Was I alone? No.

…Q   Do you own a personal computer?
…A   Do I have a computer? Of course.

If what he repeats is not in the form of a question, then it can take a comma or a question mark, depending on the intonation.

…Q   Did you join him for dinner after that meeting?
…A   For dinner, yes.
…A   For dinner? Yes.

…Q   Did you buy a new car during that time period?
…A   A new car, yes.
…A   A new car? Yes.

Happy punctuating!


That Sneaky Dependent Clause, Part 2

I have been asked for a little more explanation on the last post.

A dependent clause is dependent because it has a word out in the front of it that “introduces” it.

…He left. (a sentence, an independent clause)
…that he left (dependent clause)
…when he left (dependent clause)
…because he left (dependent clause)
…if he left (dependent clause)

When two (or more) dependent clauses are joined by a coordinate conjunction, it is very common for the introductory word for the second clause to be omitted. This is a standard pattern in English.

…when he arrived for the meeting and (when) he told us the news…
…because my aunt had physical problems and (because) she could not live alone…
…after we left the theater and (after) we walked to our car…

What happens here is that the second part of this compound LOOKS like an independent clause; i.e., it looks as if it is just a subject and verb by itself. You have to be aware of the construction in front of it and realize that it is really a dependent clause with the introductory word missing. And two dependent clauses that are joined by a coordinate conjunction do NOT take a comma.

Remember that the word “and” cannot link a dependent clause to an independent clause. So the second part HAS to be dependent.

I hope this helps.

Happy punctuating!


Be Wary of That Dependent Clause

You all know this rule: Cardinal Rule No. 1: Put a comma before a coordinate conjunction when it is followed by an independent subject and verb.

But be careful of the dependent clause that LOOKS LIKE an independent clause.

…You have to be careful that you have checked out all the details and you know the pitfalls of the deal.
…She claimed to always be late because she had to drop her kids at her mother’s and her mother always had an issue or two.

In the second part of this compound DEPENDENT construction, the introductory word for the clause is omitted, leaving the clause looking as if it is an independent subject and verb. You have to check back to the beginning of the sentence to see what is going on.

Happy punctuating!


Punctuation Precision

Punctuation Precision

A 20-hour course


It’s BACK! You have been asking for a repeat of this class since we gave it last year. So here it is.


This course is offered as an alternative to the “hit and miss” hour or two that we tend to get during conventions. Though there is value in any time spent on the rules of punctuation, the goal for this course is to offer a more comprehensive look at these rules.


After a thorough discussion of clauses – what they are, how they work, how they are punctuated — we will spend the rest of the time looking at the rules for the period, question mark, quotation, colon, dash, semicolon, and comma – with discussion on hyphens, apostrophes, number form, and capitalization thrown in for fun.


There will be reading assignments from Court Reporting: Bad Grammar/Good Punctuation and exercises assigned from the Workbook. Though these books are recommended, they are not a requirement for the course.


And the really cool thing is that you have choices of times as well as format for the course you choose:



LIVE Course with Sessions in June/July —

Another in August/September

If you want CEUs – NCRA has prequalified these courses for CEUS; so there will be no fuss/no muss getting your points – choose one of these LIVE courses. If you need to miss a session and need the credits, you can write a detailed summary for the session and receive credit for the two hours.


Completion certificates (reflecting the total number of hours attended) will be issued for these courses. These certificates may be used for credits for state or any other organizations.


The “live” sessions will be conducted via PowerPoint with handouts of the slides made available. Each class will be recorded, and enrolled students may listen to those recordings as many times as desired. The recordings will be available for one month after the last session of the class.

The Schedules for the Two LIVE Courses


      JUNE and JULY                                       AUGUST and SEPTEMBER

Saturday, June 4                                      Saturday, August 13

Saturday, June 11                                    Sunday, August 14

Sunday, June 12                                      Saturday, August 20

Saturday, June 18                                    Sunday, August 21

Sunday, June 26                                      Saturday, August 27

Saturday, July 9                                       Sunday, August 28

Sunday, July 10                                       Sunday, September 11

Sunday, July 17                                       Sunday, September 18

Saturday, July 23                                     Saturday, September 24

Saturday, July 30                                     Sunday, September 25

SATURDAY TIMES                                    SUNDAY TIMES

         8:30 to 10:30 Pacific                                 3:30 to 5:30 Pacific

         9:30 to 11:30 Mountain                             4:30 to 6:30 Mountain

         10:30 to 12:20 Central                              5:30 to 7:30 Central

  11:30 to 1:30 Eastern                                6:30 to 8:30 Eastern

RECORDED Course in June/July —

Another in August/September


If you do not need CEUs and would rather listen to the material on your own schedule/time, by all means, choose one of these options. We will post the recording from the “live” class session, which you may listen to at your leisure and which will be available to you for one month after the last class session. For these courses, there will be three one-hour sessions “live” with Margie so that you can ask questions and have some time to discuss the material that has been presented. Otherwise, everything will be covered through the recordings.




Reporters: $395                                             Scopists/Proofreaders/Students/Teachers: $355


Register for the courses at margieholdsclass.com. Registration will close at the end of the day on Friday, June 3, for the June 4 start date. Once you enroll in the course, there are instructions for downloading the platform we use for the course and also other information that you need, most especially handouts that can be printed for the live class.

Already a Unit = No Hyphen

When the word “dollars” is said and there are numbers above a million with the figure and the word, the dollar sign is used, and the combination is considered to be a unit and uses no hyphen. (NOTE: It is perfectly fine to use all figures for these, though it is probably easier to read in the figure-word combination.)

…They spent $1.2 million for the house.
…It is more than $10 million in loans.

The word “dollars” becomes singular, “dollar,” when this combination is used as an adjective. It is said as “two million DOLLAR loan.” The dollar sign is still used. However, because the combination is already considered to be a unit, there is no hyphen.

…They received a $3 million loan from the bank.
…It is a $1.2 million increase over what we expected.

…It is a $2 million-a-year payment for ten years.

So when a suspension hyphen is needed, it looks like this:

…It is a $10 million- to $20 million-a-year commitment.

Happy punctuating!