Submitted by katlike  •  January 7, 2005


I have always wondered what [sic] means. The most recent example I have seen was: ‘I supposed I could write a couple of thousands [sic] words on that trip . . . But I spare you.’ I have run across it in different contexts and never really understood what it meant. Thanks

Submitted by dave  •  November 20, 2004

Film titles

I’m wondering if there is a general rule for capitalizing prepositions in film titles.

For instance, one of my favourite horror films is THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, but The Devil Rides out (lower-case “o”) is stylistically awkward. Or Ferris Bueller’s Day off. Or the classic example would be those saucy British comedies of yesteryear, the Carry on series -- no one can figure out whether to call them Carry Ons or Carry ons, and as for the one called Carry On Behind, ought we to start writing it Carry on behind?

Someone help me out of this spiral of confusion!!!

Submitted by evanritzema  •  November 17, 2004

Commas and Quotation Marks

I have a list of Computer Programs that I am including in some documentation and have a question regarding the use of commas.

The list looks like this: “Test.prg” “Test2.prg” “Test3.prg”

If I included this list in a sentence I tend to think that the programs should be separated by commas but the commas should be outside the quotes like this: “Test.prg”, “Test2.prg”, and “Test3.prg”.

Another program says that the commas (and the period) belong inside the quotes like: “Test.prg,” “Test2.prg,” and “Test3.prg.”

I think this just looks completely idiotic. I know for most quotes, punctuation belongs inside the quotes but I believe in this instance, the quotation marks aren’t meaning dialog but just another part of the item name and so should not be treated as regular quotation marks.



Submitted by nickfoster  •  November 13, 2004

Why so few diacritics in English?

Why does written English use so few diacritic marks compared with many other languages?

Submitted by sayquanjohnson  •  October 25, 2004

Lux’ or Lux’s

If I am writing someone’s name and the name is Lux, do I write Lux’ or Lux’s to show possesion?

Submitted by lyndasmith  •  September 9, 2004


When using the parents in a sentence and referring to both of them, is the ‘ put before or after the s. For example I see you are selling your parents’ home.

Submitted by ken  •  September 8, 2004

Footnote references and punctuations

Does a footnote reference go before or after a punctuation mark.

for example: see explanation below**. or see explanation below.**

Submitted by tommy  •  August 21, 2004

Eels’ or Eels’s?

Say you had a band, called Eels, or the Eels. Now would you say the Eels’s debut album, or the Eels’ debut album. As Eels is a name, but a plural name, and you aren’t talking about the debut album of several eels. I’m sorry to ask. It’s the one apostrophe trouble I have.

Submitted by jenny  •  August 17, 2004

Plurals with Clarification

If you are talking about something that belongs to someone, but want to clarify who that person is, where does the apostrophe go? Is it “Bryan, my brother’s, car,” or “Bryan’s, my brother’s, car,” or what? Or can you just not say that?

Submitted by jenny  •  August 17, 2004

Plural s-ending Possessives

If there is a family with the last name of Jones, and you want to talk about the family, you say the Joneses. But what if you want to talk about something that belongs to them. Is it “I’m going to the Joneses’ for dinner?” Because that would be pronounced Jonziziz.

Submitted by markmiodovski  •  August 16, 2004

Apostrophe & Parentheses Usage

When indicating that either one or more than one of something is envisioned, the “(s)” is normally added to the end of the word, such as “team(s)”. When using an apostrophe to indicate the possessive, the location of the apostrophe is placed either before or after the final “s” depending whether the word is meant to be singular or plural, such as “team’s” or “teams’”. Should the apostrophe be placed before or after the “(s)” to indicate the possessive quality of the team(s) ?

Submitted by markmiodovski  •  August 3, 2004

Quotation Marks in Parenthetical Statement

When identifying an acronym, I have always simply placed that acronym or abbreviation in parenthesis following the phrase. For example: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). I have now been told to also place quotation marks inside the acronym, for example (”LAX”), but this does not appear correct to me. Is there a rule for when such use of quotation marks is correct?

Submitted by jb  •  July 23, 2004

Punctuation Inside ( ) While Ending a Sentence

So, I wrote this email to my girlfriend that went:

Have fun in your meeting (or don’t have fun at all!).

That leaves me with an awkward feeling; an exclamation mark, a parenthesis, and a period to end off my sentence. Can I do that and still be correct?

Submitted by larryparker  •  July 22, 2004

Computer Keyboard

On the computer keyboard, in the upper left hand side, right below the escape button. What are these?: ~ ` And, what are they used for?

Thank you.

Submitted by chuck  •  July 20, 2004

I’ve got a punctuation Jones

I work in a sign shop and am putting the name “The Jonses” on a trailer - the customer says it should be The Jones’s - I say The Jones’ Which is correct?

Submitted by patriciamoore  •  July 8, 2004

Apostrophe with Acronym

I work for the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, or LASERS as it is commonly known.

My question concerns the correct usage of an apostrophe after LASERS, in instances such as:

LASERS website the LASERS website LASERS members the LASERS agencies LASERS agencies LASERS retiree billing, etc.

It seems as though it should be used in some cases, but not in others. We are very confused and would like to have your modern input on this unique situation.

Thank you very much.

Submitted by chas  •  June 24, 2004

Resume, resumé, or résumé?

What is the correct spelling of the thing that gets you a job and what is the name of the funny thing on top (grave or acute) of the the letter e?

Submitted by heatherhamstra  •  June 17, 2004

Acronyms That Are Plural

Is just s or ‘s used with acronyms? Like MBAs or MBA’s and SWPPP’s or SWPPPs

Is the rule always the same for all acronyms or are there variations?

Submitted by jundaibateskobashigawa  •  May 19, 2004

Smileys and other emoticons within parentheses

In informal online writing, such as blogs or e-mail, it has become a convention to include an emoticon, particularly a smiley-faced emoticon, to indicate that a comment is not intended to be interpreted literally or taken seriously. Technically speaking, I don’t think emoticons can be considered punctuation, because they generally provide a meaning of their own, rather than simply organizing or emphasizing text. My question is this, when including a smiley-faced emoticon--such as :)--at the end of a side comment in parentheses (dare I provide an example here? :)), do you: allow the closing parenthesis in the emoticon do double duty as a punctuation mark; allow the closing parenthesis of the emoticon run up against the closing parenthesis of the parenthetical statement, creating a doubled chin effect; put an otherwise inexplicable space between the emoticon and the closing parenthesis; or avoid the situation at all costs by rearranging the statement or supplying a different emoticon with a similar meaning (i.e., reword to avoid awkwardness)?

Here are some examples of each of the four solutions I provided:

1. (dare I provide an example here? :-) 2. (dare I provide an example here? :-)) 3. (dare I provide an example here? :-) ) 4. (dare I provide an example here? :-D)

Keep in mind that many programs will substitute the emoticon with an actual image of a smiley face (not that we should ever allow language to evolve to handle quirks of word processors).

Submitted by t  •  March 24, 2004


What are these things called and when do you and do you not use them? I seem to see a great deal of overuse in advertising.

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