Category: Commas

Essential, but Is It Important?

Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014, at 11:14 am

Commas are tricky little devils. Anyone who wants to use them correctly will at some point encounter the terms essential and nonessential. The rule is that so-called essential elements should not be enclosed in commas. Conversely, nonessential elements require commas fore and aft. By “elements” we mean clauses, phrases, and even single words. Today we …

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(All About) Parentheses

Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2014, at 9:25 pm

The singular form is parenthesis, but the plural parentheses is the word you’re more likely to see. Both words have a wide range of related meanings, and what some people identify as a parenthesis, others call parentheses. So let’s keep it simple. For our purposes, a parenthesis is one of a pair of curved marks …

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The Case of the Missing Hyphen, Part 2

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2014, at 8:08 pm

We thank all of you who took the time to respond to the question we posed two weeks ago: Should it be e-mail or email? There were eloquent arguments for both sides, but email won decisively. “Time to join the 21st century,” wrote one gentleman, who added, “and I’m 61 years old.” Many of you …

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Media Watch

Posted on Monday, November 25, 2013, at 1:36 pm

Several weeks ago, a Vatican-endorsed medal honoring Pope Francis had to be recalled because Jesus was spelled “Lesus.” Just last week, a political placard at a Washington, D.C., press conference spelled filibuster “fillibuster” and against “againts.” In light of these disgraces, it seems the right time to reopen our Media Malfeasance file… • “They have …

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How Did They Get In Here?

Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013, at 11:06 am

Writers today have problems keeping their sentences internally consistent. This is especially true of print journalists. Because of staff cutbacks at financially challenged newspapers, many articles are proofread hastily, if at all. Combine that with the shocking decline in Americans’ English language skills over the last fifty years or so and you get sentences unworthy …

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