The Oxford (Serial) Comma: Is It Necessary?

As with many English grammar rules, use of the Oxford comma (also called the serial comma) is widely debated. The Oxford comma appears before the coordinating conjunctions “and” and “or” in a list of three or more items. For example, “I enjoy coffee, tea, and hot cocoa.” While some commonly used style guides (MLA and…

How to Use the Semicolon

Think of the semicolon (;) as an alternative to using a period or comma. It is a bit weaker than a period and a bit stronger than a comma when it is used to connect two independent clauses. Most people either use a period to write the two independent clauses as separate sentences (example: “Thick…

Plural vs. Possessive: Getting Rid of Too Many Apostrophes!

Guilty of adding too many apostrophes?  This is one of the most common punctuation errors, and one that is easy to fix if you know the difference between plural vs. possessive. Just driving around, I see many expensive trucks, billboards, and store signs lettered with that extra apostrophe thrown in, such as “The best plumber’s…

Punctuating Titles Made Simple

Put simply, italicize (or underline) titles of larger works, such as books, magazines, newspapers, plays, movies, tv shows, works of art, music albums, and long musical works. Put quotation marks around titles of smaller works that appear inside the larger works, such as articles, stories, poems, essays, chapters, songs, and short musical works. Helpful hint:…

Properly Punctuating Titles: When to Use Italics, Underlining, and Quotation Marks, as Well as Correct Capitalization

Properly Punctuating Titles Properly punctuating titles of literature, music, art, movies, and other works can be confusing, and the rules aren’t always consistent from resource to resource regarding this topic. Also, since mistakes are prevalent, we are so used to seeing the wrong punctuation that it actually looks right! Here are some helpful hints on…

Misusing Its and It’s: It’s Everywhere!

Look around at business literature (ads, brochures, flyers, even vehicle lettering and billboards) as well as newspaper print. Guaranteed, after reading this blog, you will see its and it’s misused. To prevent yourself from falling victim to the its/ it’s trap, remember these points: its the possessive form of it, even though it does not…

The Ellipsis

… The ellipsis (plural ellipses), or three dots in a row, tells the reader that words have been omitted from a quotation.  When used at the end of a sentence, add a fourth dot to show a period as the ending punctuation.  Ellipses can also indicate that the writer’s thoughts are unfinished or have trailed…

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