The Connecting Adverb

A “conjunctive adverb” is a word that is usually an adverb that has been pulled out to the front of the sentence to connect the sentence it is in to the one in front of it. It has a semicolon in front of it and a comma after it if it is more than one syllable. …He had been on …

Punctuation Precision

Good morning. Just a reminder that Punctuation Precision begins this Saturday. This is your chance to “pull it all together.” In the 20 hours we will cover all the marks of punctuation and show how each fits into the big picture. There will be time to cover those crazy things that seem unique to reporting transcripts. If you need CEUs …

“Self” Words

I have had a request to explain pronouns that end in self/selves. This is a category of words called “compound personal pronouns.” They are …myself, ourselves …yourself, yourselves …himself, herself, itself, themselves First, let’s say that there are several mistakes made in the way these words are said. Plural mistakes: …ourselves, not ourself …themselves, not themself  or theirself Form mistakes: …

“That Is…” and Others

This is an abbreviated version of what is in my book on these eight parentheticals. PARENTHETICAL TO INTRODUCE AN APPOSITIVE Sometimes, when a person wants to explain, reiterate, rename, or restate something — that is, he wants to use an appositive — he uses a parenthetical before the appositive. These are the expressions most commonly used as parentheticals before an …

Oops. Need to Make a Correction

I have a sentence in the last post that is missing a comma. The commas are surrounding the dependent clause. …Do you remember [that, (when I saw you at Christmas), you promised to help me with that]? It just goes to show that we can miss something no matter how many times we proofread! Happy punctuating! Margie

The Adverb Clause

In my opinion, understanding dependent clauses and the way they work inside a sentence and how they are punctuated is at the very heart of understanding the language. When clauses are punctuated correctly, it helps the reader decipher what is going on in a sentence and produces a sentence that flows and is easy to read. With that said, I …

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 …

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 …

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, …