This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books.
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Latest Posts : Punctuation and Mechanics
I wrote, “I have two sons, Bill and Ben.”
An editor said that the comma should be a colon. That opinion is backed up by various style guides which say a list (and presumably “Bill and Ben” is a list) should be preceded by a colon. I still feel that a colon is unnecessary, though I probably would use a colon if I had five sons not two. Would I use a colon with three sons? I’m not sure.
Had I written, “I have two sons, Bill and Ben, both in their twenties” there would surely be no question of a colon being required. It seems odd to me that omitting the final phrase, “both in their twenties” forces the first comma to become a colon.
I would be interested in others’ views.
If a city and state (and full date) start a sentence in possessive form, would you consider the punctuation correct in the following three examples?
- Frankfort, Kentucky’s crime rate has increased.
- Paris, France’s breathtaking sights left us in a state of raptures.
- September 11, 2001’s tragic events will forever be indelibly etched in the minds of everyone.
Please, no recasts.
When including a complete sentence in parentheses, what are the rules? For example, someone just sent me this in an email:
“I always change some of the readings from semester to semester (for example, I am trying out the book on migration for the first time this semester and am not sure if I will keep it in the Fall).”
But I could just as easily see it written this way:
“I always change some of the readings from semester to semester. (For example, I am trying out the book on migration for the first time this semester and am not sure if I will keep it in the Fall.)”
Are both acceptable? Is one preferred?
Which ending punctuation sequence is correct for a question dialogue sentence containing a quotation within it?
a. ”Does the menu say, ‘no substitutions?’” asked Jo.
b. ”Does the menu say, ‘no substitutions’?” asked Jo.
In a sentence, there is the name of a company followed by an abbreviation, the initials of the company, in parentheses. The company name is a possessive in this sentence. Where does the apostrophe go? I want to know how this would work, as I am having trouble finding anything but advice to restructure the sentence, and I would like an answer that gives me what to do with the sentence as it stands.
Example: This policy sets a standard for determining access to Introspective Illusions (II) resources.
Would it be Introspective Illusions’ (II’s) or Introspective Illusions’ (II) or some other construction?
Should a rhetorical question end with a question mark?
I have a question about “;” and “—” as used in sentence structure. I prefer using — i.e. “He did not expect to meet anyone—the house had been empty for years—and was surprised to hear whistling from the upper floor.”
Now, as I wrote a line in my story, as sentence ran away from me and I ended up using a ; at the end, as well as the — and I got the feeling that maybe it had to be one or the other all the way through and not a mix. Anyway, the sentence (racial slur warning)
Rod had not let her buy the beer herself at first—not until father had gone down there and cleared up some misconceptions from that sneaky pool-digger—and hadn’t that been a fun day to be alive; now he just gave her sympathetic looks whenever she came to get beer for her father.
So, in such a sentence, is it right to use both the “—” and the “;”? I can always rebuild it, but it felt right to me somehow, even though I got uncertain about if it would sting in the eyes of others.