Posts Tagged ‘comma’

Write a letter to a punctuation mark … win a book!
Visit our friends over at EMDASHES to join in the fun.
We have pen in hand to correspond with the SarcMark ®
Which is your favorite?

 1  Apostrophe  ‘
 2  Brackets  [ ] { }
 3  Colon  :
 4  Comma  ,
 5  Dash  —
 6  Ellipsis  …
 7  Exclamation mark/point  !
 8  Full stop/period  .
 9  Hyphen  –
 10  Parenthesis  ( )
 11  Question mark  ?
 12  Quotation marks  “ ”
 13  Semicolon  ;
 14  Slash/stroke/virgule  /
 15  Sarcmark  

While you’re at it … why not enjoy “the practice or system of using certain conventional marks or characters in writing or printing in order to separate elements and make the meaning clear, as in ending a sentence or separating clauses.”

And, pay a visit to some of our other punctuation pals:

Comma Clout

Apostrophe Abuse

The Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks

Apostrophe Catastrophes

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We have been asked several times, “what’s your opinion on the Oxford (or serial) comma?” So, we’re going to cross-post an entry from our sister site: Comma Clout for our readers here …

From last week:

A lot of buzz around this issue today … Barrett got us blogging when he sent this tweet:

serial comma tweet


Per Wiki, the serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma and the Harvard comma) is the comma used immediately before a grammatical conjunction (usually and, or, and sometimes nor) preceding the final item in a list of three or more items. More simply, as per AskOxford.com, the ‘Oxford comma’ is an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list.

For example, this three-media list can be punctuated as either “Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter” (with the serial comma) or as “Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter” (without the serial comma).

There is no consensus among writers and editors on the usage or avoidance of the serial comma. Most American English authorities recommend its use, but it seems to be less frequent in British English. In many languages (e.g., French, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish) the serial comma is not the norm; it may even be explicitly forbidden by punctuation rules – but it may be allowed or even recommended in some cases to avoid ambiguity or to aid understanding when reading.

Wikipedia actually has an excellent section on this topic. Take a look:

1 Arguments for and against
2 Ambiguity
3 Usage
4 References & External links

We have relaxed our own position on the use of the serial comma. Before text limits of 140 characters or thereabouts, we would insist, but now, we say lose any extra character you can while preserving meaning.

There are many views on this little mark. Click here to read one solution. What’s your view?

sources: Wikipedia, dictionary.com, AskOxford.com, Twitter

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Got this spam/phishing email a few weeks ago about unusual bank activity and a possible suspension of a bank account … yeah, right.

Anyway, the email is in need of the Grammar Police and Comma Clout, so here goes …

“Dear Bank Customer_ ,

Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on your account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on your account…”

Comma Clout needed:

  • 1.remove the space before the comma in the greeting: “Dear Bank Customer,”
  • 2.remove the comma before the incorrectly-used “their” in the first sentence: “… we had to believe that …”

Grammar Policing needed:

  • their” should be “there:” “… we had to believe that there might be …”

See the Grammar Police blog post: “There you have it … ” for more on There vs. Their (and They’re).

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The past day or two, at least among our followers, there has been a lot of buzz on Twitter about the use of punctuation – inside or outside the quotation marks.

First of all, what are “quotation marks”?

quotation mark. noun. one of the marks used to indicate the beginning and end of a quotation, in English usually shown as at the beginning and at the end.


Or, for a quotation within a quotation, of single marks of this kind, as “He said,I will go.” 


Here’s some “scoop”:

QUOTATION MARKS – Quotation marks serve to indicate spoken dialog and to acknowledge specifically reproduced material.

a. Quotation marks are used to enclose direct quotations.

The supervisor said, “Come to my desk, young man.”

Note: Single quotation marks ( ‘  ‘ ) are used to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

The student asked, “Who popularized the statement ‘This is the best of all possible worlds’?”

b. Quotation marks should be used to enclose titles of short poems, stories, and articles that are usually printed as a part of a larger work.

She read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” from an anthology.

c. Quotation marks may be used to enclose a word used as a word (rather than for its meaning).

The word “school” brings back pleasant memories. And, do not overuse the word “and” in formal writing.

Now, let’s get to the more immediate question …

here or here with quotes

When other marks of punctuation are used with quotation marks, the following practices should be observed:

(1) A question mark or an exclamation point is placed inside the final quotation mark if it is part of the quotation, outside if it is part of the sentence that includes the quoted material.

part of quote

not part of quote

(2) Commas and periods are always placed inside the closing quotation marks.

periods and commas

(3) Semicolons and colons are always placed outside the closing quotation marks.

colons and semis

Click here to download the complimentary pdf document of these rules.

Sources: dictionary.com; Webster’s New World Secretarial Handbook. New Rev. Ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1981.

To keep it fun, we must include the following:

Air quotes, also called fingerquotes or Ersatz quotes (pronounced /ˈɛrzæts/) refers to using one’s fingers to make virtual quotation marks in the air when speaking. This is typically done with both hands held shoulder-width apart and at the eye level of the speaker, with the index and middle fingers on each hand forming a V sign and then flexing at the beginning and end of the phrase being quoted. The air-quoted phrase is generally very short — a few words at most — in common usage, though sometimes much longer phrases may be used for comic effect.

While the term “air quotes” did not appear until 1989, use of similar gestures has been recorded as early as 1927. A single handed quote is an equivalent, though less dramatic variation. This became very popular since the 1990s.

Air quotes are often used to express satire, sarcasm, irony or euphemism. In print, scare quotes fill a similar purpose.

air quotes

Source: Wikipedia

We also recommend visiting our friends over at The “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks.

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Lately, we’ve been checking out some other grammar blogs. It really is amazing how much blogging is going on about our favorite subject. Anyway, this post is not about that … it’s about the discussion topic (job title) we encountered:

“Pre-owned Car Salesman”

(click here for the real story)

Our question is, “What’s/who’s pre-owned, the car or the salesman?” We may send this one over to Comma Clout for treatment.

preowned car salesman

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About Comma Clout …

We have a new sister site,

comma smallComma Clout.

 Please visit when you can.

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Here’s a recent Oprah.com headline:

“How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex with Dr. Laura Berman”

With one mighty and well-placed comma, so much confusion could have been avoided.

Tell us what you think?

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