In June, 2015, I gathered a handful of fellow writers, bloggers, and editors at my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Newark, Delaware. People I had been corresponding with and writing with and editing with for years before that.
Because I was hawking myself as The Word Shark, “The Sharkies” became a reality. Each professional and experienced attendee had their chance to present, share, and educate the others. We had robust writing exercises and discussions.
We come from North Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
Even with covid, we have managed to continue to meet about every quarter to share, encourage, and commiserate on our successes and failures, via zoom.
We had one such meeting yesterday, Saturday, 11/13.
I always come away from these get-togethers with a clear vision for what else I want to do, what else I need to do, with pages full of notes and inspiration, and an I’m-oh-so-grateful feeling for this group.
Let’s continue the SpewagE series on the blog – because there is so much to talk about and unpack.
Spelling, Proofreading, Editing, Writing, Apostrophes, Grammar, and English. “SpewagE.” I capped the last E because that’s how the art came out.
Commas are so cool, so gnarly, and so groovy. But, why so confusing?
We can talk about commas all the live-long day. There are transitional expressions, absolute phrases, commas in dates and addresses and numbers, in titles, with coordinating conjunctions, coordinate adjectives, interrogative phrases, and in series, and yikes, the list goes on and on and on.
I had general ideas for this Cool Commas blog, but I also referred to my Strunk and White, Elements of Style and my favorite reference of all time, Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker.
Here are a few basic examples, reflected from checking in with those two tomes and my own experience with having a Mom and Ang who constantly told me to “Look it up” and then made me look it up.
Simple – And
I am old, and I am beautiful.
Both underlined segments are stand alone. In other words, “I am old” is a sentence, and “I am beautiful” is a sentence. So, I add the comma before the “and.”
I am old and beautiful.
“I am old” is a sentence, but “beautiful” cannot stand alone. So, no comma before the “and.”
Simple – But
Same basic idea as “and” above.
I am old, but I am feisty and politically engaged. (Both before and after the “but” are full sentences.)
I am old but feisty and politically engaged. (Just the first part, “I am old” is a full sentence.)
The serial or Oxford comma
I will give up my Oxford comma when you pry it from my cold, dead, and gnarled hand.
The Oxford comma is the second comma after “dead.”
Example of why I honor and continue to utilize the Oxford comma in a series:
“I love my parents, James Taylor and Carly Simon.” (Indicates my parents are James Taylor and Carly Simon.)
“I love my parents, James Taylor, and Carly Simon.” (Indicates I love all three.)
You could also change it up and write, “I love James Taylor, Carly Simon, and my parents.”
* * *
Do you typically wing it when it comes to comma placement, or do you have rules?
Henceforth, I will share my acute and capacious superpowers foisted upon me by Mom (worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader) and Ang (who could complete the NYT Crossword in a day), and the years of research and learning stuff and “Looking Things Up.”
I will share my experiences … Spelling, Proofreading, Editing, Writing, Apostrophes, Grammar, and English. “SpewagE.” I capped the last E because that’s how the art came out.
Easy Plurals, Easy Apostrophes
Social Networking Yuckies
Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen more and more misuse of the apostrophe in plurals, especially on social networking posts.
Plurals are simple (for the most part). Here are a handful:
So, if you have one cat, you can have two cats, three cats, and so on.
If you trust a scientist, then you can also trust two scientists, three scientists (and you can trust Dr. Fauci, too!).
Apostrophes in Plurals
Plural’s do not need apostrophe’s. (Ew!)
Wrong – Mistake’s are being made.
Correct – Mistakes are being made.
Plurals do not need apostrophes. (Good!)
Apostrophes in Possessives
Now, this is where you need apostrophes – in possessives.