Archives for October 2010
Do you cringe when someone reviews your work and says you're making mistakes with commas? Never fear. I'm here to help. Q. How do I know if and when to use a comma to set off words near the beginning of a sentence? A. Use a comma after elements that begin a sentence and also come before the subject and verb of the main clause. Examples: No, we won't....Well, we may or we may not. Also use a comma after an initial request or command. Examples: Look, this isn't the first time it's happened....Always remember, use a different font for headings. Q. What about setting off words, phrases or clauses that aren't vital to the meaning of the sentence? A. Use commas here, as well. Example: Let's call Claudia, who's a technical wizard, to get help. Q. Can I use a comma to separate a word, phrase or clause when I want an afterthought? A. Absolutely. Example: Contact me as soon as possible, please....It's not to late, is it? Q. I need help understanding serial commas. I can never remember whether or not to use a comma before "and." A. Most experts use a comma before "and." Here's an example: I'd like to express my appreciation to Oprah, Sally, and Regis. Some grammar experts say it's okay to omit the comma before "and." Example: "I'd like to express my appreciation to Oprah, Sally and Regis." But it's a bit awkward. Each of the three elements is meant to be a separate entity. Best practice: if there are three or more items in a series, and the last one is preceded by "and," "or," or "nor," use a comma before the conjunction and between the other items. If you're uncomfortable with that, you can always rewrite the sentence (see sentence below for people who hate commas). Correct: We need a CPU, monitor, and mouse to get started. Correct: (For people who hate commas) We need a CPU and monitor and mouse to get started. Awkward: We need a CPU, monitor and mouse to get started. NOTE: The above suggestions usually apply to everything but journalism. The Associated Press Style Guide doesn't use the serial comma, but keep in mind that the AP style has to be brief. Space in newspapers, magazines, etc., is limited. So follow the style guides. Questions? Ask me. I have most style guides... Helpful Links
It was a crazy, wonderful, beautiful day in the Greater Phoenix area. Clean, clear, and cool. I grabbed my rake and headed first for the front yard, where I cleaned up piles of pine needles I'd left last evening. It got dark too early and I had to quit raking. Once I completed my work, I jumped in my red Kia Soul and headed for a favorite shopping area on McDowell Road in Avondale. On the way, I passed fields of lush green sorghum, and stopped to take a few shots. I stopped further south and took some shots of a huge cotton field, but those pix didn't turn out that well. On to shopping, then back north. I drove through the Glendale Industrial Park to check out the duck and goose population in one of the ponds. Got a few good shots, but my favorites, the white-crested ducks, were missing, as were all geese. The city had emptied the pond recently and perhaps they bring back the various species at different times. Or not. I'm going over tomorrow morning when the sun is lower in the sky, and hope to get a few really good shots. Back to work, then time for lunch. Front door wide open. Cats parked contentedly at the front door watching birds, people, vehicles, and who knows what else. All through the day, I kept thinking of my son, Ron Simpson, who celebrated his birthday today. He is something special. Happy Birthday again, Ron! I didn't have to close the house up until late this afternoon. Eighty-four inside was a bit much.
This is a very simplistic explanation of adjectives. There are many types, including absolute, attributive, comparative, superlative, compound, coordinate, copulative, and predicate. Then there are adjective clauses and adjective phrases, along with prepositional and participial. Never fear! We'll keep this article easy and painless.
ADJECTIVE: a word or phrase that describes what kind, how many, or which one. Adjectives can consist of a single word, a phrase, or a clause. Adjectives modify (or explain) the meaning of nouns (see below) and pronouns (see below).
NOUN: name of a person, place, thing, activity, idea, quality.
PRONOUN: a word used in place of a noun, e.g., I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, whose, which, what, that, these, those, each, either, any, anyone, someone, myself, yourself, himself, etc.
You usually find adjectives before the nouns they modify (her gray hair) but they can come at the end of a sentence (Her hair is gray).
Some words are also used as both adjectives and adverbs, e.g., "best, deep, fast, hard, quick and long." You may need to look at the sentence and see the function in order to decide.
ADJECTIVE: He's a *fast runner
ADVERB: He runs *fast
Adjectives can only modify nouns or pronouns. And if I may be blunt, don't use adjectives (or adverbs) if you don't need them. They have their place, but sometimes dilute the power of a sentence.