Where to Put the Word “Only”?

The word only is very often misplaced in a sentence. Always put it just before the word that it refers to/modifies.

…I only have a dollar. 🙁
…I have only a dollar. 🙂

…She only listened to her brother. 🙁
…She listened to only her brother. 🙂

…He only knows where it is. 🙁
…Only he knows where it is. 🙂

…He only got one hit in the game. 🙁
…He got only one hit in the game. 🙂

And the list goes on and on.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

“The reason is…” Yikes!

Okay. So my cute little happy and unhappy facces came through only as question marks. Sorry about that. Here it is again.

Once you say “the reason,” all other words implying the reason are unnecessary. These are always wrong.

…The reason why is that she was ill.
…The reason is because she is ill.  [This one leads the list!] …The reason is on account of she was ill.
…The reason is due to the fact she is ill.

These are the ONLY correct ways to say this.

…The reason is that she was ill.
…The reason is she was ill.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

“The reason is…”

So many people make this mistake. My very favorite Dodgers announcer, Vin Scully, whose English was really excellent, made this error. And he is not alone. I heard it three times yesterday and had the news on for only an hour.

Once you say “the reason,” all other words implying the reason are unnecessary.

…The reason why is that she was ill. ?
…The reason is because she is ill. ? [This one leads the list!] …The reason is on account of she was ill. ?
…The reason is due to the fact she is ill. ?

The ONLY one that is correct!

…The reason is that she was ill. ?

Or you can omit the word “that.”

Just a little PSA from one who cares about the language.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

A Little Grammar to Start Your Day: “Different FROM”

It is different from, never different than.

The word than is always used in a comparison: e.g., farther than, better than, less than,
more intricate than
, older than. There will always be an “er” or the word “more” or “less”
with the word than. Since there is no way to get a comparison word in the sentence with
different, it can never be different than. It has to be different from.

…The book was different from what I had expected.
…Mine is different from his.
…The cake was different from what I remember.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

“Who” versus “Whom”

Not a lot of people are really interested in this anymore, but here it is!

There are two reasons that people have trouble with who and whom.

The first reason is that one does not hear these used correctly. Have you heard the word whom used this week? this month? We have simply lost the correct use of these words.

Secondly, when the who/whom choice has to be made, the word itself is usually not in the “right” place in the sentence to allow your ear to help you; that is, the who/whom are generally used at the beginning of the unit they are part of. It is a question word; so it begins the sentence. It is a pronoun that introduces a clause; so it is at the beginning of the clause.

Who/Whom are you referring to?
(You are referring to — .)

Who/Whom does he intend to call?
(He does intend to call — .)

John is the one who/whom everyone expects will win the election.
(…everyone expects — will win the election)

The English rule says that one uses who when it is nominative case and whom when it is objective. However, that doesn’t always translate into the correct answer as many people do not understand all of the differences between nominative and objective.

So this is what I recommend if you want to begin to even think about using these correctly:

1. Turn the sentence/clause around so that it is in standard word order.
2. Put in he/she or him/her. Which one fits? If he/she fits, it is who; if him/her fits, it is whom.

This will work for many of the uses, and it works because your ear tells you which is correct. There are a few sophisticated uses that might cause you some trouble.

This is a start. If you want some exercises to do, let me know. If you want more information, let me know.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Some “Good” Grammar

There is often a question asked about I/me or he/him in the construction “He is taller than I/me” or “I will arrive earlier than he/him.”

The word than begins a dependent clause and is always involved in a comparison. Often a dependent clause can have some vital parts missing; that is, the subject and/or the verb can be missing. It is still a clause, however.

The way to tell the correct form for these pronouns in these clauses is to put everything back into the clause.

…He is taller than I (am tall).
..I will arrive earlier than he (will arrive).

So in these two clauses the choice is the nominative form, I and he.

Happy punctuating.

Margie