A Different Meaning for the Period or Semicolon Before “Is That Correct?”

Deciding to use a period versus a semicolon before “Is that correct?” and expecting your reader to distinguish that they mean something different is an exercise in extreme subtlety. This distinction has been pushed around out there for a long time. …You testified that he arrived at 9:00; is that correct? — meaning is it correct that you testified to this?  …You testified that he …

Tag Clauses

A recent FB answer to why the first kind of tag clauses take a comma and why there cannot be a comma before the word “right” by itself. “Didn’t you’ and “has he” echo the words of the question. They are a shortened form of the question.   …He was there early, wasn’t he [there early]? …She was not the …

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 …

The Word “So”

When the word so means “therefore,” it starts a new sentence and takes a semicolon or period in front of it and no single comma after it because it is only one syllable. …We left early; so I missed his phone call. …The company had already fired him; so there was nothing I could do to help. …The blue car …

“i.e.” and Its Friends

These eight expressions are often used when something is being renamed or reiterated: i.e., that is, e.g., for example, to wit, namely, for instance, in other words The punctuation depends upon where they are in the sentence and/or what follows them. There are six rules; so we will do a few at a time. WHEN THESE WORDS AND WHAT FOLLOWS …

Parallel Construction and the Semicolon

…I arrived on Saturday; he arrived on Sunday. …He resigned in 2010; she resigned in 2011. …The first train leaves at 5:00 A.M.; the last train leaves at 10:00 P.M. The Rule: When two sentences have NO conjunction between them and have parallel grammatical construction, use a semicolon between them. This question always arises: Could I use a period? My …

The Compound Sentence

I am going to start this topic today and will keep coming back to it over the next weeks. The question is what to do with an element that begins a second sentence after an and or but (or, nor). One of the basic reasons to have punctuation is to sort out the structure of the sentence. Cardinal Rule No. …