Posts Tagged ‘commas’

FIVE typos in one advertisement! Whoops!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Some people think I am overly picky about correct grammar and usage, but I believe most everyone would agree that the ad I've reprinted here is unacceptable. A spell checker, used by either the tinting company or by the newsletter editor who printed this ad, would have caught all five spelling/typos Glitches.

 

Whoops #1: When converting DAMAGE to DAMAGING, the writer should drop the E before adding ING.

Whoops #2: IBLE and ABLE are similar suffixes that can be added to the end of a word. VISIBLE uses the IBLE suffix, not ABLE.

Whoops #3: The prefix that means "across" is TRANS, not TRAN, so this word should be TRANSMISSION.

Whoops #4: The word EXPERIENCE has four syllables, so the "I" cannot be left out.

Whoops #5: The word REFERENCES comes from the word REFER, so the "E" between the "F" and the "R" cannot be left out.

Whoops #6: Commas always go inside the quotation marks in the USA, as in "Products,"

Whoops #7: It is not a good idea to put quotation marks around the words PRODUCTS, SERVICE or WARRANTY in an advertisement.  Quotation marks around a word suggest that it is a substitue for the real thing, which is the exact opposite of what is meant.

The Grammar Glitches above should be corrected this way:

  • Reduce damaging UV rays
  • Visible Light Transmissions

Over 50 years combined experience!

Licensed & insured with references in your community!

We offer the Very Best in Products, Service & Warranty in the Business!


Quotation marks? Commas and periods go INSIDE.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Now that fall is here, my local ladies' club newsletter is arriving in the mailbox again, and the first issue contains a number of Grammar Glitches.  Here is the first one (with names changed), in a calendar listing for the coming year:

 November   "A Musical Visit with John Doe", Artistic Director for X Theater

Whoops! The comma after John Doe's name should be INSIDE the quotation marks.  Commas and periods ALWAYS go inside the quotation marks in English in the United States.  The calendar listing should read this way:

 November "A Musical Visit with John Doe," Artistic Director for X Theater

Here is another example from the same newsletter, in a sentence about a tablescapes competition:

Other designers  included:  Jane Smith, "Welcome Back"; Betty Baker, "Autumn Leaves" and Cathy Carly, "Autumn Events" and "Lacy Leaves".

Whoops again!  Several times!  First, when INCLUDED is used in the body of a sentence, it should not be followed by a colon. 

Second, it is correct to place the semicolon after the word BACK outside the quotation marks, but for consistency, there should also be one after LEAVES. Semicolons and colons always go outside the quotation marks. The semicolon is used here (correctly) because there are commas within the items in the series. 

Third, the period at the end of the sentence should go inside the quotation marks.  This sentence should read as follows:

Other designers included Jane Smith, "Welcome Back"; Betty Baker, "Autumn Leaves"; and Cathy Carly, "Autumn Events" and "Lacy Leaves."

 PLEASE NOTE: If you would like me to do a blog post that offers a chart of where to place other punctuation marks in relationship to quotation marks, please let me know in the comment box.

Wh Other designers included: Jane Smith, "Welcome Back"; Betty Baker, "Autumn Leaves" and Cathy Carly, "Autumn Events" and "Lacy Leaves".

 Other designers included: Jane Smith, "Welcome Back"; Betty Baker, "Autumn Leaves" and Cathy Carly, "Autumn Events" and "Lacy Leaves".

 

 

 

 


Compound subject segment should not be set off by commas

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Here is a headline I came across this week in a legal advertisement:

If you, or a loved one, has developed BLADDER CANCER after taking the Type 2 Diabetes medication Actos….

If the subject of this sentence is YOU, then the verb HAS should be HAVE.  The subject is actually compound–YOU OR A LOVED ONE, and in that usage, HAS would be correct because it goes with LOVED ONE, which is closest to the verb.  The phrase OR A LOVED ONE should not be set off by commas, suggesting that it is not part of the subject.  The statement should read this way:

If you or a loved one has developed BLADDER CANCER after taking the Type 2 Diabetes medication Actos….

 

Speaking of comma misuse, here is a statement from a hearing aid advertisement that forgets about those earring commas that should appear on both ends of a phrase that is dropped into the middle of a sentence:

Now the audio from your TV, when connected to the Range transmitter will stream sound directly into your hearing aids just like headphones.

 

The dropped in phrase is WHEN CONNECTED TO THE RANGE TRANSMITTER.  There is a comma before WHEN (indicating where the dropped in phrase begins), but there should also be one after TRANSMITTER, to indicate where the dropped in phrase ends.  The sentence should read this way:

Now the audio from your TV, when connected to the Range transmitter, will stream sound directly into your hearing aids just like headphones.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

 

 


Corporate Writing Pro on Commas with Adjectives (Guest Post, Part II)

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

As promised, here is Part II of the Corporate Writing Pro's Guest Post for Grammar Glitch Central. Michelle Baker is a teacher, scholar, and business professional from West Virginia whose mission is to help people communicate more clearly. You will find a link to her blog site, Keys to Easy Writing, on the Home Page for Grammar Glitch Central. Here is her post:

 Everyone trips over commas, especially the little one that sits between adjectives. That's because there's a difference between coordinate and cumulative adjectives. And most of us don't know how to test our adjectives to find that difference.

Remember, adjectives are words that give more information about nouns–words like pretty, blue, light, nice, fabulous. Sometimes we use more than one in front of the same noun, like in this sentence:

The dark red dress was her favorite.

DARK and RED are both adjectives. Should we separate them with a comma?  Here's the test:

       1) Can you separate the adjectives with the word AND?

       2) Can you reverse their order?

In this case, you cannot.  It is not a DARK and RED DRESS, nor is it a RED DARK DRESS.  It's a DARK RED DRESS.

The word DARK is describing the kind of red–it's not light red, or brick red, or rose red; it's dark red. The two adjectives build on one another, and that's why we call them cumulative.

But what about this sentence?

Did you read about Macomber's short, happy life?

You could say SHORT AND HAPPY LIFE; HAPPY AND SHORT LIFE; or HAPPY, SHORT LIFE.  The order of the words does not matter, and so the two adjectives are coordinate and need a comma between them.

Remember to test your adjectives. (Or, just stick to one at a time!)


The Trickiest Punctuation Mark, Part I–A Guest Post

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Please welcome the Corporate Writing Pro who has graciously agreed to contribute today's Guest Post to Grammar Glitch Central.  Michelle Baker is a teacher, scholar, and business professional from West Virginia whose mission is to help people communicate more clearly.  You will find a link to her blog site, Keys to Easy Writing, on the Home Page for Grammar Glitch Central. Here is her post:

COMMAS are the trickiest punctuation mark to master.  And there's a simple reason for that.  There are three different types of comma rules:

  • commas you have to have
  • commas you cannot have
  • commas you can choose to have

Just when you think you have your comma rules down, one of the OTHER rule types comes along to deliver a stern rebuke. 

 So let's talk today about one kind of comma–the comma you cannot have.  You cannot use a comma to separate subject and verbs or verbs and objectsHere is an example of what you cannot do:

Registering for our fitness programs before September 15, will save you thirty percent of the membership cost. (Subject is REGISTERING.  Verb is WILL.)

 If you really want to set off the verb in this sentence, add an introductory clause:

If you register for our fitness program before September 15, you can save thirty percent of the membership cost.

 Here is another example of what you cannot do:

The point is, we should never put the cart before the horse. (Verb is IS.  Object is WE.)

 

In this case, the writer might want to emphasize the point. The way to do that is to change the wording and the punctuation, like so:

The point is this: never put the cart before the horse.

REMEMBER: Allow your subjects, verbs, and objects to flow freely with no commas in between them.

Stay tuned. The Corporate Writing Pro will be back later in the week to talk about when to use a comma between adjectives and when not to.

 

 

 


Commas with Appositives? That is the question.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

One of my regular readers asked a good question this week about commas with appositives. She is revising the Acknowledgements page of her book for a new edition and wanted to know if she should set off the names with commas in the following sentence:

To the marine geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman for their amazing work documenting and dating the Black Sea flood and to explorer Robert Ballard for his exciting discoveries of an ancient civilization beneath the Black Sea.

My quick answer was that I thought the sentence was smoother and crisper without the commas. I said I thought either way was correct, but when I checked The Chicago Manual of Style this morning, I found a better explanation. It says that a word or phrase "in apposition to" (meaning it renames) a noun should be set off with commas when it is NONRESTRICTIVE. That means it is information that is nice to know but doesn't restrict the meaning.

In my reader's sentence, the information is RESTRICTIVE.  It is not just any marine geologists or any explorer she is crediting, it is specific people.  Therefore, the sentence is correct as shown in the box above.

 In the box below, I have printed examples of sentences where commas would be appropriate with an appositive.

 Marianne Smith's husband John, an avid golfer and butterfly enthusiast, is the new president of the local Audobon Society.  (Nice to know about the golf and the butterflies but not necessary to understand the sentence.)

I have spoken to Mr. Allen Spencer, principal of the middle school, about using the auditorium for the play.

The principal of the middle school, Mr. Allen Spencer, has given us permission to use the auditorium for the play.

 If any of you want to check the complete explanation about this in The Chicago Manual of Style, you will find it in entry 6.23 on page 314.

I also invite you to read T. K. Thorne's wonderful book, Noah's Wife, which is a novel about Na'amah, a young girl who wants only to be a shepherdess in the hills of ancient Turkey. This desire is shattered by a number of disasters and circumstances that threaten her world. Although fiction and creating a unique persona for this obscure woman who became Noah's wife (She has what is now known as Asperger's Syndrome), the book is rooted in factual research of the area and the time. Once I read the first few pages, I could not put it down.  For a review, please go to the "Home" page for this blog, click on "What I am Reading and Why" and scroll down to the review dated Monday, January 31, 2011.

 


Comment sentences yield more Glitches

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Here is a sentence that appeared in a comment this week and gives me the opportunity to remind readers yet again about apostrophe usage:

It's already in my favorite's folder so I can quickly access it.

Whoops! The first apostrophe in IT'S is correct because it is a contraction of IT and IS. The second apostrophe in FAVORITE'S should be removed. FAVORITES is plural or this person wouldn't have an entire folder for FAVORITES.  The folder does not belong to the FAVORITES. That is just the title of the folder. (NOTE: I am very happy to be included in this person's FAVORITES folder!) The sentence should read this way:

It's already in my favorites folder so I can quickly access it.

Here is another sentence that appeared in a comment this week:

If your aiming to get much more viewers, and make additional income by using your own web site you really should have a look at this website….

 Whoops! a couple times here. First, the word YOUR should be YOU'RE because it is meant to be a contraction of YOU and ARE. Second, VIEWERS can be counted, so MUCH should be changed to MANY. In addition, I would move the comma placed after VIEWERS to after SITE because everything through the word SITE is part of introductory information that comes before the main subject, which is YOU.

(NOTE: The extra three dots at the end of this sentence are an ellipsis, which means that I left something out at the end. What I left out was the recommended website because I don't recommend web sites I am not personally familiar with.) This sentence should read as follows:

If you're aiming to get many more viewers and make additional income by using your own web site, you really should have a look at this web site….

 

 

 


Nu Ear forgot second earring comma in advertisement.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Here is a sentence that appeared in an advertisement I saw this week:

Everyone, especially those over 50 or anyone who has been subjected to loud noise for a period of time should have an electronic hearing test at least once a year.

 The writer of this sentence inserted a comma after EVERYONE in order to set off a phrase that can emphasize who ESPECIALLY needs this advice. Unfortunately, when the writer reached the end of that explanatory phrase (which is the word TIME), he forgot to add the second "earring comma" so the reader would recognize the end of the phrase.

The basic sentence is this: EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE AN ELECTRONIC HEARING TEST AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR.  All of the wording beginning with ESPECIALLY and ending with PERIOD OF TIME should be set off with a pair of commas. The sentence should read this way:

Everyone, especially those over 50 or anyone who has been subjected to loud noise for a period of time, should have an electronic hearing test at least once a year.


Missing “earring” comma creates alcohol people?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

There is an excellent article in this morning's The Birmingham News about the dangers of mixing alcohol and caffeine, a practice that can cause a "wide-awake drunk" and lead to dangerous behavior. The article contains a sentence that is confusing because of a missing comma:

Normally, when drinking alcohol people begin feeling sleepy and tired, and that's when they know they've had too much to drink.

Whoops! What was that again? The first two times I tried to read this sentence, I kept hearing "alcohol people" in my head. Then I spotted the "earring" comma problem. The phrase that should be set off by two commas is WHEN DRINKING ALCOHOL, but the second comma is missing. The sentence should be punctuated this way:

 Normally, when drinking alcohol, people begin feeling sleepy and tired, and that's when they know they've had too much to drink. 

If you would like more information about the dangers of mixing caffeine and alcohol, go to www.cdc.gov and type "caffeine and alcohol" in the Search box at the top of the page. It will bring up several references.

 

 


More mandatory “comma in a date” rules

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Here are the "mandatory" rules for comma use in a date:

1. MONTH-DAY-YEAR STYLE: Place a comma after the day and a comma after the year:

The meeting was held on April 15, 2011, in my home.

George became CFO on October 2, 2008, after a lengthy review process.

 

2. MONTH AND YEAR ONLY (or HOLIDAY PLUS YEAR): No comma separates month (or holiday) and year.

The meeting was held in April 2011 in my home.

George became CFO in October 2008 after a lengthy review process.

Ronald preached his first sermon on Easter Sunday 2009.

 

3. DAY-MONTH-YEAR STYLE: No commas are needed.

    NOTE: This is standard British English. It is often used by the US military and in genealogy statements.

Anna's birthday is listed in one family diary as 20 May 1898 and in another as 18 May 1897.

General Smith ordered the new policy to take effect on 1 April 2010.

ABOUT THOSE "SLASH OR DASH" DATES: I do not recommend using "slash or dash" dates for two reasons. 1) They look unprofessional, especially in the body of a sentence.  2) The United States is one of the few places in the world where 5/4/11 means May 4, 2011. In most of the rest of the world, it would be interpreted as April 5, 2011. As I can assure you from personal experience, this little bit of laziness can lead to incorrect hotel reservations in many countries!