Good Grammar (Finally!)

Coming on February 24 is the opening class for the 20 hours of Good Grammar (Finally!). An understanding of grammar — parts of speech, phrases and clauses, how words modify — dramatically improves one’s ability to punctuate with ease. If you know a word is just a simple adverb modifier, you won’t be tempted to put commas around it. If …

More Hyphen Stuff…

When a prefix goes with both words in a hyphenated combination, do not add the prefix and make it solid word. Hyphenate the prefix. …In your opinion, are the non-work-related conditions also disabling to Jane? When a prefix goes with a compound that is separate words, do not add the prefix to make a solid word. Hyphenate the prefix. …Please run down …

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 …

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. 🙂 …

“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 …

That Confusing “S”

When a proper name ends in “s” and we have to make it plural or possessive, it seems it is always a bit jarring. There are several things to keep in mind: First, when a surname has the word “the” in front of it, it is always plural. …I saw the Cohens when I visited D.C. …The Johnsons joined us …

Sentences Joined by “And”

If there are several sentences that have a coordinate conjunction between them — usually this is the word “and” — it is correct to put a comma before the coordinate conjunction, the “and.” There seems to be some discussion that, when there is a string of these sentences, there is no need for the commas. I know of no such rule. This is …

Errors

Okay. So I should not write a blog during the insomniac hours of my life — 4:30 A.M. I just reread it: “…who is just needs a better grasp….” Yikes. Why are those errors so easy to spot now? And I violated a very important proofreading rule for these things: write the blog; proofread it; save it as a draft; …

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 …