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The Oxford Comma

The debate rages on regarding inclusion of the Oxford, or serial, comma. Our GrammarBook.com Rule 1 of Commas recommends, “To avoid confusion, use commas to separate words and word groups with a series of three or more.”

I would like to share the below OnlineSchools.com presentation with you for this week’s grammar tip. I apologize for the small size of the type; we could not make it bigger and still fit it into the post. If you find it hard to read, click on the graphic to see it in larger type. This chart does a nice job covering the pros and cons of the Oxford comma. Note their recommendation at the end, “If you’re in the United States, use it . . .”

The Oxford Comma
Courtesy of: OnlineSchools.com

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Posted on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at 3:51 pm


Commas, Part 10

Rule 1 – Use a comma when beginning sentences with introductory words such as well, why, hello, no, yes, etc.
Examples:
Yes, I do need that report.
Well, I never thought I’d live to see the day…

Rule 2 – Use a comma before and after introductory words such as namely, that is, i.e., for example, e.g., or for instance when they are followed by a series of items.
Example:
You may be required to bring many items, e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

NOTE: i.e. (in Latin: id est) means that is; e.g. (in Latin: exempli gratia) roughly means for example.

Pop Quiz
Select the correct sentence.

1A. No you may not have a dollar.
1B. No, you may not have a dollar.

2A. Well isn’t that the funniest thing you’ve ever heard?
2B. Well, isn’t that the funniest thing you’ve ever heard?

3A. I will work in one of only three states, namely, Washington, Oregon, or Idaho.
3B. I will work in one of only three states namely, Washington, Oregon, or Idaho.
3C. I will work in one of only three states namely Washington, Oregon, or Idaho.

4A. We are learning about many different punctuation marks, i.e., periods, commas, and semicolons.
4B. We are learning about many different punctuation marks, e.g., periods, commas, and semicolons.

Pop Quiz Answers

1B. No, you may not have a dollar.
2B. Well, isn’t that the funniest thing you’ve ever heard?
3A. I will work in one of only three states, namely, Washington, Oregon, or Idaho.
4B. We are learning about many different punctuation marks, e.g., periods, commas, and semicolons. (Using e.g. means that these three punctuation marks are examples of what you are learning about. Using i.e. would have meant that these three are the only ones you are learning about.)

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Posted on Friday, March 1, 2013, at 10:34 pm


Commas, Part 9

Rule 1 – Use a comma to separate a statement from a question.
Example: I can go, can’t I?

Rule 2 – Use a comma to separate contrasting parts of a sentence.
Example: That is my money, not yours.

Pop Quiz
Select the correct sentence.

1A. You’re Marvin from my old Denver neighborhood, aren’t you?
1B. You’re Marvin from my old Denver neighborhood aren’t you?

2A. I believe that’s my jacket, isn’t it?
2B. I believe that’s my jacket isn’t it?

3A. That is a mountain lion not a house cat.
3B. That is a mountain lion, not a house cat.

Pop Quiz Answers
1A. You’re Marvin from my old Denver neighborhood, aren’t you?
2A. I believe that’s my jacket, isn’t it?
3B. That is a mountain lion, not a house cat.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, at 2:45 pm


Commas, Part 8

To get started, let’s review the first rule of “Commas, Part 7.”
Rule: Use a comma to separate two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction–and, or, but, for, nor.
Example: He thought quickly, but he still did not answer correctly.

Now, let’s look at a slightly different situation.
Rule 1 - If the subject does not appear in front of the second verb, do not use a comma.
Example: He thought quickly but still did not answer correctly.

Rule 2 - Use commas to introduce or interrupt direct quotations shorter than three lines.
Examples:
He actually said, “I do not care.”
“Why,” I asked, “do you always forget to do it?”

Pop Quiz
Choose the correct sentence.
1A. She went to the mall and she found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.
1B. She went to the mall, and she found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.

2A. She went to the mall and found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.
2B. She went to the mall, and found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.

3A. “Baseball” Yogi Berra said “is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”
3B. “Baseball” Yogi Berra said, “is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”
3C. “Baseball,” Yogi Berra said, “is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

Pop Quiz Answers
1B. She went to the mall, and she found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.
2A. She went to the mall and found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.
3C. “Baseball,” Yogi Berra said, “is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

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Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, at 5:42 pm


Commas, Part 7

NOTE: An independent (or strong) clause is a simple sentence with a subject, verb, and a complete thought. A dependent (or weak) clause has a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought.

Rule – Use a comma to separate two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction—and, or, but, for, nor. You may omit the comma if the clauses are both short.

Examples:
I have painted the entire house, but he is still working on sanding the doors.
I paint and he writes.

Rule – A comma splice is an error caused by joining two independent clauses with only a comma instead of separating the clauses with a conjunction, a semicolon, or a period. A run-on sentence, which is incorrect, is created by joining two strong clauses without any punctuation.

Examples:
Incorrect:
Time flies when we are having fun, we are always having fun. (Comma splice)
Time flies when we are having fun we are always having fun. (Run-on sentence)

Correct:
Time flies when we are having fun; we are always having fun.
OR
Time flies when we are having fun, and we are always having fun.
OR
Time flies when we are having fun. We are always having fun.

 

Pop Quiz
Choose the correct sentence.

1A. Morgan did all of the grocery shopping but all Ralph did was watch the game.
1B. Morgan did all of the grocery shopping, but all Ralph did was watch the game.

2A. Morgan shopped but Ralph watched the game.
2B. Morgan shopped, but Ralph watched the game.

3A. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill, you can see Mt. Diablo from there.
3B. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill you can see Mt. Diablo from there.
3C. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill, and you can see Mt. Diablo from there.
3D. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill; you can see Mt. Diablo from there.

4A. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight. We still have a long way to go.
4B. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight, for we still have a long way to go.
4C. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight we still have a long way to go.

Pop Quiz Answers

1B. Morgan did all of the grocery shopping, but all Ralph did was watch the game.

2A. Morgan shopped but Ralph watched the game. OR
2B. Morgan shopped, but Ralph watched the game.
(You may omit the comma if the clauses are both short.)

3C. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill, and you can see Mt. Diablo from there. OR
3D. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill; you can see Mt. Diablo from there.
(3A. is a comma splice. 3B. is a run-on sentence.)

4A. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight. We still have a long way to go. OR
4B. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight, for we still have a long way to go.
(4C. is a run-on sentence.)

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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2013, at 5:18 pm