Compound Question

When someone asks two questions and uses “or” in between, there are two options: Put a comma/semicolon before the “or” that separates the two sentences and a question mark at the end; or make it into two questions. When the questions are lengthy or there is a lot of other punctuation, it is probably best to break them into two …

A Little-Known Dash Rule

Besides using the dash for interruptions (broken sentence structure), there are some grammar rules that govern the use of the dash. When a pronoun refers back to one noun, use a comma in front of the pronoun; when a pronoun refers back to several nouns, use a dash in front of the pronoun. …We received several letters, each of which …

The Idea of “Essential”

As I have stated on other occasions, there is widespread confusion or perhaps lack of understanding of what the terms “essential” and “nonessential” mean in punctuation. I would say again: Putting a pair of commas around an element does not always mean that you can take it out of the sentence and have the sentence make sense. In other words, …

The Word “Then”

When “then” means “at that time,” it does not take a comma as it is an adverb. …He was then on his way to becoming successful. …I saw them and then began to wonder what would happen. If “then” is at the beginning of a sentence, it starts a new sentence and needs a semicolon or a period in front …

“My Question Is…”

This construction always causes consternation and no end of disagreement. This is my understanding of the way English grammar works. It is never correct to use a single separating comma between the verb and the predicate nominative. Surely no one wants a comma in the following examples. …My name is Margie. …Her response is that she was not home. …My …

Punctuate What Is Really There…

I have been on “hiatus” for a while. Actually I have been swamped for a while!! So I am back — still swamped but back. There is a question on FB about the word “but” and whether it should have a comma before it when it ends the sentence. Remember that we punctuate what is really there. This sentence just …

Punctuation Creates a Run-On

To say that the “attorney talks in run-on’s” is really not a correct statement. A run-on is created by bad punctuation. No one can “say” a run-on. Using no punctuation or a comma between two sentences that have no conjunction between them CREATES a run-on sentence. …He looked in my direction I tried to ignore him. 🙁 …I saw him …

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? …