Principal McGraw-Hill Education Handbook of English Grammar & Usage
McGraw-Hill Education Handbook of English Grammar & UsageMark Lester
The go-to guide for perfecting your grammar and communication skills in every situation
English teachers aren't the only ones who expect careful and correct language choices. Precision in language can be the deciding factor when it comes to getting a job or winning a promotion. Whether your skills need drastic improvement or a quick brush-up, The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage will get your grammar back on the right track.
Written by two expert grammarians, the book provides bottom-line definitions, tips, and simple rules that summarize the essentials you need to know. You’ll find clear examples of usage and as well guidance on communication via text, email, and social media.
The new, third edition of The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage features:
•Straightforward explanations of common mistakes and why they happen
•Hundreds of correct and incorrect sentence examples, with errors clearly marked
•Quick tips for fixing your most stubborn grammatical mishaps
•Catchy memory aids for writing correctly the first time, and more
English teachers aren't the only ones who expect careful and correct language choices. Precision in language can be the deciding factor when it comes to getting a job or winning a promotion. Whether your skills need drastic improvement or a quick brush-up, The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage will get your grammar back on the right track.
Written by two expert grammarians, the book provides bottom-line definitions, tips, and simple rules that summarize the essentials you need to know. You’ll find clear examples of usage and as well guidance on communication via text, email, and social media.
The new, third edition of The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage features:
•Straightforward explanations of common mistakes and why they happen
•Hundreds of correct and incorrect sentence examples, with errors clearly marked
•Quick tips for fixing your most stubborn grammatical mishaps
•Catchy memory aids for writing correctly the first time, and more
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27 January 2020 (10:29)
10 Modification This chapter deals with two types of modification problems: 1. Misplaced and squinting modifiers: In the first section, we examine misplaced modifiers. Sentences containing misplaced modifiers are not ungrammatical. The problem is that misplaced modifiers make sentences say something the writers do not intend to say. Here is an example with the misplaced modifier almost: Senator Blather almost spoke for two hours. Now, it is (barely) possible that the sentence means exactly what the writer said, that Senator Blather was scheduled for a two-hour speech but mercifully something happened to prevent it from being given. However, it is much more likely that what the writer meant to say was this: Senator Blather spoke for almost two hours. In other words, Senator Blather did indeed speak, and the speech lasted nearly two hours. 2. Dangling modifiers: In the second section, we deal with dangling modifiers. A dangling modifier is an out-and-out grammatical error. The error results from incorrectly formed modifying participial or infinitive phrases. These modifiers are said to dangle because they are improperly attached to the rest of the sentence. Here is an example (dangling modifier in italics): X Having hiked all day, my backpack was killing me. What the writer meant to say was that as a result of his having hiked all day, his backpack was killing him. However, what the writer actually said was this: X My backpack hiked all day and was killing me. Misplaced and Squinting Modifiers A misplaced modifier is a modifier placed in a position where it modifies something that the writer does not intend it to modify. A squinting modifier is an adverb that can be interpreted as modifying two completely different things. Misplaced and squinting modifiers result in writers’ saying things they don’t mean. Modifier errors are much more common in ordinary conversation than in writing, but speakers and listeners rarely notice them. When we talk, most of us do not carefully plan out exactly what we are going to say. We rarely go back over what we have said and edit it, unless it is grossly wrong. (Remember in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Willy Wonka would get excited and say phrases backward? He would stop, make a revolving motion with his hands, and then correct himself.) Likewise, our listeners are quite tolerant of all kinds of verbal mistakes. Part of the reason is that we are primarily listening for what people are saying, not how they are saying it. When we write, however, it is a different story. Writing, unlike conversation, is planned and corrected in private. When we show our writing to others, there is an expectation of correctness far beyond our expectations of day-to-day conversational language. Mistakes that are routinely accepted without notice in conversation are glaringly apparent in writing. Nowhere is the difference between the standards of casual speech and writing more apparent than in the correct placement and use of modifiers. Misplaced Modifiers Misplaced modifiers do not make sentences ungrammatical. Misplaced modifiers are wrong because they say something the writer did not intend to say. The placement of an adverb can make a world of difference in meaning. For example, the placement of the adverb only in the following sentences changes the meaning rather considerably: Only I love you. I love only you. Most of the misplaced modifier errors fall into two main categories: misplaced adverb qualifiers and misplaced prepositional phrases. Misplaced Adverb Qualifiers. Suppose you intended to comment on how much chicken your friend Portly Bob ate, and you wrote this: Bob nearly ate the whole chicken. Unfortunately, what you actually said was that Bob did not eat any chicken at all, though he did contemplate eating a whole one. The problem is the placement of the adverb modifier nearly. What you should have written is this: Bob ate nearly the whole chicken. The problem this writer encountered is that nearly is one of a group of adverbs that have the unusual property of being able to modify noun phrases (like the whole chicken above) in addition to their usual adverb function of modifying verbs. The mistake the writer made was to unthinkingly place the adverb in front of the verb because that is where adverbs normally go. Here are some other adverbs like nearly: almost, just, and only. When using these adverbs, we need to be aware that they are easily misplaced. We need to check the possibility that they really modify something following the verb—usually, but not always, a noun phrase. Here are three more examples of misplaced adverb quantifiers: Alice almost spent $200 on a new CD player. Now, did Alice actually get a new CD player or not? If she did not, then almost is correctly placed. However, if she did get her new CD player, then what the writer really meant was this: Alice spent almost $200 on a new CD player. We just located two vendors for that product. If the writer meant that they just now located two vendors, then the modifier is correctly placed. But if the writer meant that they were able to find only two vendors, then this is what the writer should have written: We located just two vendors for that product. The committee only meets on Wednesdays. In this example, the differences are more subtle. The placement of only in front of the verb meets implies that the committee takes no action at its Wednesday meetings. Presumably, the committee takes action at some other time. However, suppose the writer really meant to say that the committee has just a single weekly meeting—on Wednesdays. In that case, the adverb needs to follow the verb: The committee meets only on Wednesdays. The moral of this presentation is the following: watch out for the adverb qualifiers almost, just, nearly, and only. Sometimes these adverbs do not modify the verb as one might expect, but rather they modify a noun phrase or another structure following the verb. Misplaced Prepositional Phrases. Prepositional phrases can play two different roles: adjectives and adverbs. One problem with prepositional phrases at the end of a sentence is that the reader interprets the prepositional phrase as one part of speech, while the writer intended the other. Here is an example with the prepositional phrase in italics: The runners stood ignoring the crowd in their lanes. It seems as though the writer is using the prepositional phrase as an adjective modifying crowd. The sentence seems to say that the crowd was in the runners’ lanes, a highly unlikely situation. What the writer meant was for the prepositional phrase to be used as an adverb telling us where the runners stood. Here is what the writer should have written: The runners stood in their lanes ignoring the crowd. A second problem with prepositional phrases is that when there is more than one clause, adverb prepositional phrases can be placed so that they modify the wrong verb. Here is an example of such an adverb prepositional phrase (in italics): He went to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery in a limousine. On first reading, we interpret the adverb prepositional phrase in a limousine as modifying the nearest verb, underwent: X He underwent emergency surgery in a limousine. What the writer meant, of course, is for the prepositional phrase to modify the first verb, went: He went to a hospital in a limousine. The best way to correct the misplacement is to move the prepositional phrase next to the verb it modifies: He went in a limousine to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The best way to monitor for misplaced prepositional phrases is to always make sure the prepositional phrase is directly attached to the word that it should modify. Pay special attention to prepositional phrases at the ends of sentences. They are the ones most likely to be misplaced. Squinting Modifiers Squinting modifiers are adverbs that are placed at a boundary of two clauses or phrases with the unfortunate result that the reader cannot tell which clause or phrase the adverb should go with. These modifiers are called “squinting” because they seem to look in two different directions at the same time. Following are two examples of squinting adverbs (in italics): The mayor promised after her reelection she would not raise taxes. Here, the modifier is the adverb prepositional phrase after her reelection. The adverb phrase “squints” because we can interpret it in two different ways: 1. After her reelection modifies the preceding verb promised. We can paraphrase this interpretation as follows: After the mayor was reelected, she promised that she would not raise taxes. That is, the mayor has already been elected. 2. After her reelection modifies the following verb would not raise. We can paraphrase this interpretation as follows: The mayor promised that after she was reelected, she would not raise taxes. That is, the mayor is making a promise about what she would do if and when she were reelected. In the following example Students who practice writing often will benefit. the modifier is the adverb often. The adverb “squints” because we can interpret it in two different ways: 1. Often modifies the preceding verb writing. We can paraphrase this interpretation as follows: Those students who often practice writing are the ones who will benefit. 2. Often modifies the following verb will benefit. We can paraphrase this interpretation as follows: Students will often benefit when they practice writing. Sentences containing squinting modifiers are not ungrammatical per se. The problem is that the squinting modifier creates an unintended and undesired ambiguity. Once the writer realizes the confusion, the ambiguity is easily resolved one way or another. The problem, of course, is that the writer sees only the intended meaning, not the unintended one. There is no simple solution or test for squinting adverbs. Nonetheless, it is helpful for writers to be aware of the condition in which squinting adverbs can occur. Squinting adverbs occur at the boundary between two clauses or phrases. Once writers are aware that this boundary is a squinting adverb danger zone, they can take the extra second to consciously check to see if adverbs at the boundaries can be interpreted in more than one way. Summary Misplaced and squinting modifiers are difficult problems for all of us because we know what we meant. It is really hard to train our eyes to see not just what we meant but what we actually said. Misplaced modifiers are modifiers put in the wrong place so they modify something we do not intend for them to modify. The most likely culprits are the adverb qualifiers almost, just, nearly, and only because they can modify both verbs (as we would expect) and also noun phrases. Other common misplaced modifiers are adverb prepositional phrases at the end of sentences that can be interpreted as modifying the nearest verb rather than the more remote intended verb. Squinting modifiers are modifiers that are used at the boundary of two clauses or phrases. The result is that the reader cannot tell which clause or phrase the modifier should go with. The only real defense against misplaced and squinting modifiers is to be aware of the kinds of modifiers that are likely to be misused and the places that modifier mistakes are most likely to occur. Forewarned is forearmed. Even the most experienced writers never outgrow the need to consciously check high-risk modifiers and places for unintended meanings. Dangling Modifiers A dangling modifier is said to dangle because it looks like it might fall off the sentence it is attached to. Dangling modifiers are adverbial phrases of various sorts, participial and infinitive phrases being the most common. Here are some examples with the dangling modifier underlined (and some questions that suggest why the modifier is dangling): X Regretfully declining the dessert menu, the waiter brought us our bill. (Who declined the dessert menu? It sounds like the waiter did.) X Worried about being late, a taxi seemed like a good idea. (Was the taxi really worried about being late?) X After getting a new job, my commuting costs have doubled. (Did my commuting costs get a new job?) X To recover from the surgery, the doctor recommended bed rest. (How’s the doctor feeling now?) The problem is that these modifiers break a basic rule of grammar that we will call “the man who wasn’t there” principle. You may know this poem: As I was going up the stair I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish he’d stay away. —“Antigonish” (1899), Hughes Mearns “The man who wasn’t there” principle of grammar means that it is OK to not be there as long as you don’t go away. In other words, we can drop something out of a part of a sentence if we can get it back from somewhere else in the rest of the sentence. Here is an example of a modifier (underlined) that correctly obeys “the man who wasn’t there” principle: Turning the key in the lock, Holmes quietly slipped into the room. In this sentence, the subject of the verb turning has been dropped. But in this example, we can find out who did the turning by looking at the subject in the main part of the sentence. It was Holmes: Holmes turned the key in the lock. In other words, we can legitimately drop the subject Holmes from the modifier because we can get it back from the main sentence. We can find out if the modifier is dangling or not by a simple two-step process that tests to see if the subject in the modifier has been legitimately dropped: 1. Move a copy of the subject of the main sentence into the subject position of the modifier: [image: Images] 2. Change the verb in the modifier so that it agrees with the restored subject: Holmes turned the key in the lock. Now ask yourself this question: Does this new sentence make sense? If the answer is no, then it is a dangling modifier. If the answer is yes, then the modifier is correct. In this case, the answer is yes, so we know that the modifier is not dangling. Now we can see what is wrong with the first four examples: the subject of the main sentence does not make sense when it is used as the understood subject of the modifier, and therefore it was not legitimate to have dropped the subject from the modifier in the first place. To see that this is the case, let’s go through the two-step process: X Reluctantly declining the dessert menu, the waiter brought us our bill. 1. Move a copy of the subject to the modifier: [image: Images] 2. Change the verb in the modifier to agree with the subject: X The waiter reluctantly declined the dessert menu. This doesn’t make sense because it was the customers who declined dessert. Therefore, the modifier is dangling, and either the modifier or the main sentence must be rewritten. X Worried about being late, a taxi seemed like a good idea. 1. Move a copy of the subject to the modifier: [image: Images] 2. Change the verb in the modifier to agree with the subject: X A taxi worried about being late. This doesn’t make sense. Therefore, the modifier is dangling, and either the modifier or the main sentence must be rewritten. X After getting a new job, my commuting costs have doubled. 1. Move a copy of the subject to the modifier: [image: Images] 2. Change the verb in the modifier to agree with the subject: X After my commuting costs got a new job, my commuting costs have doubled. This doesn’t make sense. Therefore, the modifier is dangling, and either the modifier or the main sentence must be rewritten. X To recover from the surgery, the doctor recommended bed rest. 1. Move a copy of the subject to the modifier: [image: Images] 2. Change the verb in the modifier to agree with the subject: X The doctor recovered from the surgery. This doesn’t make any sense. The doctor did not undergo surgery—the patient did. Therefore, the modifier is dangling, and either the modifier or the main sentence must be rewritten. You can do one of two things to correct a dangling modifier: 1. Change the modifier to make it compatible with the main part of the sentence. 2. Change the main part of the sentence to make it compatible with the modifier. You should explore both possibilities to decide which one you like the best. For example, let’s go back to the first example and explore both options: X Reluctantly declining the dessert menu, the waiter brought us our bill. 1. Change the modifier to make it compatible with the main part of the sentence: Collecting the dessert menus, the waiter brought us our bill. 2. Change the main part of the sentence to make it compatible with the modifier: Reluctantly declining the dessert menu, we asked for our bill. Obviously, there are many other ways to rewrite the original sentence with the dangling modifier corrected, but these two revisions illustrate the main alternatives. Both revisions are now grammatical, but which alternative is best is a stylistic question that you will have to decide for yourself. Often the choice hinges on what you want to emphasize. In version 1, the emphasis is on the waiter. In version 2, the emphasis is on the people eating. If the focus of the whole passage is on the waiter, then version 1 is probably better. If your focus is on the people, then version 2 is probably better. Summary A dangling modifier is typically some kind of adverbial phrase at the beginning of a sentence. The phrase dangles because the implied subject of the verb in the adverbial phrase is not the same as the subject of the sentence it modifies. The way to check for dangling modifiers is to see if the subject of the main sentence makes sense as the understood subject of the verb in the adverbial phrase. If it does not, then the adverbial phrase is dangling, and either the adverbial phrase or the sentence must be rewritten. 15 Dashes, Hyphens, and Other Punctuation This chapter covers punctuation marks that, in formal writing at least, are used less frequently than commas, periods, and other punctuation we previously covered. Indeed, some uses of the punctuation discussed in this chapter are occasionally viewed as inappropriate for formal writing, while other functions are fully acceptable. The punctuation marks covered in this chapter are not as simple as one might think, meaning they can easily result in errors. The hyphen alone has at least 13 functions, although most are straightforward. After a brief summary, this chapter covers the dashes, hyphens, parentheses, brackets, and slashes. Dashes The dash technically has two forms: the en dash (–) and the longer em dash (—). The em dash is the one most people consider a “true dash.” Our discussion uses dash to refer only to the em dash, unless noted otherwise. A dash can clarify or emphasize words in three ways. 1. Replacing a colon to set off ideas. This kind of dash sets off words that are “announced” by the rest of the sentence. Almost always, the dash and announcement come at the end of a sentence. What comes before this dash must be able to stand alone as a complete sentence. In this way, a dash can take the place of a colon that sets off an idea which readers would expect to see because of what the sentence says before the dash. Because of the wording in the first part of this sentence, we anticipate the writer to tell us the musician’s name. I have an autograph of the first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—Aretha Franklin. 2. Phrases that contain commas: Multiple commas close to one another can be confusing, especially if they do not share the same function. A dash can sometimes assist in clarifying things, though not often because it requires a certain sentence structure. In the confusing example below, the first and fourth commas set off three nouns that form a list. Commas 1 and 4 seem necessary because the list is an appositive for the noun members. However, the list itself contains two commas (2 and 3) that separate three nouns. [image: Images] Dashes replace commas that would otherwise “surround” a group of words that, for whatever reason, must have their own commas. Another option would be parentheses, which are more formal but less emphatic. In any case, commas can be replaced by dashes only when you could use parentheses, as illustrated below. Correct: Three committee members—the chair, co-chair, and treasurer—must leave early. Correct: Three committee members (the chair, co-chair, and treasurer) must leave early. 3. Emphasis: Although often considered overused and informal, the “emphatic dash” can set off ideas a writer wants to stress. Regardless of whether these dashes set off objective information or the writer’s opinion, they can emphasize ideas at almost any point in a sentence. If you put your finger in your ear and scratch, it will sound like Pac-Man from the old video game—but don’t scratch too hard! Hyphens Unlike the em dash, a hyphen (-) merges individual terms (or numbers) into a single idea. Although there are over a dozen specific ways in which it does so, the hyphen should be used sparingly. Here are its more common functions: 1. To join parts of certain compound adjectives and nouns. Examples: five-month-old baby, sister-in-law, and Asian-Americans. 2. To indicate a range of numbers or dates, as in the years 2018-2020. 3. To spell out fractions or numbers from 21 to 99 or fractions, as in one-third and thirty-two. 4. To attach certain prefixes and suffixes, as in mid-June, re-evaluate, and self-sufficient. Parentheses The major function of parentheses is to add something that is generally not considered necessary. This so-called “parenthetical comment” usually clarifies meaning or helps make a sentence more readable by breaking some of it into a smaller portion. In all cases, do not put anything inside parentheses that is grammatically essential to the whole sentence. The three major functions of parentheses are as follow: 1. To provide extra ideas. The wording inside parentheses clarifies previous wording in the sentence or, less often, adds something the writer believes is interesting. Example: “I was contacted by my neighbor (the same person who called you and five other people in the neighborhood”). 2. To avoid awkward sentence structure. In long or complicated sentences, the occasional use of parentheses can help separate some words so that readers can better follow the whole sentence. Example: “Many dieticians suggest that you eat (especially in times of stress and physical fatigue) a higher proportion of high-protein foods, vegetables, and whole grains.” 3. To clarify abbreviations. When you want to use an abbreviation that might be unfamiliar to readers, use the full term first and immediately follow it with the abbreviation within parentheses. Thereafter, use just the abbreviation. Example: Organization of American States (OAS). Parentheses often involve punctuation that is inside, outside, or both inside and outside the parentheses. There are several scenarios that cause writers problems, but most involve either (1) a comma that goes right outside the final parenthesis or (2) a period that goes outside the final parenthesis. In most cases, this period indeed goes outside the parenthesis but with no punctuation needed before the last parenthesis. And almost never is a comma placed immediately before any parenthesis. The placement of a question mark or exclamation point depends on the meaning of the overall sentence as well as what is within parentheses. Brackets Aside from highly technical or specialized writing, all brackets in formal writing set off wording that you add to a quotation. This overall purpose leads to four specific functions: 1. To clarify wording in a quote. Because the quotation is lifted from its original context, some wording might need brief clarification. Example: “We were ordered to disregard his [Mr. Sanders’] testimony.” 2. To point out errors in the quote. Usually this error is grammatical, and you want to let your readers know it was not your mistake. Example: “I had a mindgrain [migraine] all day!” 3. To help show where words were omitted. To be concise, you can use spaced periods (ellipses) to show where you omitted words from a quote. The formal approach is to have spaces between the periods and place them within brackets to make it clear they did not appear in the original. Example: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, [ . . . ] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 4. To insert changes to fit your style or sentence structure. When you do not so much set off the quotation as work it into your sentence, the wording does not always match up with your syntax or style. In such cases, brackets can add wording within the quotation to make it fit. Example: “As Captain Kirk might say, I want you ‘to boldly go where no [person] has gone before.’” In that sentence, the original word man was replaced by a term that matches the writer’s nonsexist style. Along these lines, brackets can also be used to indicate where you deleted objectionable words from a quote. Brackets can also be inserted where you used boldface or another special font in order to add emphasis. Slashes The slash ( / ) is not common despite many possible uses. The vast majority of slashes share one basic purpose: to indicate a close connection between letters, numbers, words, or lines. This purpose translates into several specific uses. Except with the fourth function, do not place a space before or after the slash. 1. To stand for or. When used this way, it should be possible for the slash to be replaced by or, as in he/she, right/wrong matter. Never use a hyphen as a substitute for the “or slash” even though there are times when other types of slashes can be so replaced. 2. To stand for versus. If the meaning is clear because of your context, a slash can indicate an adversarial relationship. Example: “The Mariners/Yankees game this weekend will decide who advances in the playoffs.” 3. To stand for and. This is the most debatable type of slash, and we suggest avoiding it. It is commonly used to emphasize that something or someone is “both X and Y”—often more emphatically than using these actual words (both, and) or using a hyphen instead. Example: “The specimen has highly atypical male/female characteristics.” 4. To indicate a line break. A slash can indicate where a poem or song originally had a line break—where there was a line that was indented. Use this slash only when you are working the lines into your sentence, not when you show the line breaks by indenting them yourself. Example: “The poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote, ‘And if sun comes / How shall we greet him?’” 5. To abbreviate numbers and ratios. A slash can be shorthand for certain numerical concepts. For instance, a slash can stand for per, as in “a limit of 35 miles/hour.” A slash can also abbreviate dates, as in 12/21/19. A slash can indicate a time span, as in the 2018/19 season. Or a slash can express fractions such as 1/3. Dashes Despite its simple appearance, the dash (—) is surprisingly complex and misunderstood. One misconception is that it has dozens of purposes, whether in a text message or a résumé. Another misconception is that all of these purposes are technically or stylistically wrong. In terms of formal writing, the truth is that there are widely accepted rules for using a dash, although in only a few types of sentences. While some readers consider the dash overused or informal, it can clarify or emphasize what the writer is attempting to communicate. What’s the problem? Dashes entail more than one issue and concern. We focus on four matters: defining, typing, spacing, and usage. Defining “Dash” One problem is accurately defining what we mean by a “dash” in formal writing. A dash actually has two forms, but most word processing programs and computer keyboards (digital or physical) make it difficult to produce either type in a single keystroke. Below are the most common definitions of the two types of dashes used in the United States. em dash: the “long dash,” which most people associate with a dash. Its most common function in formal writing is to set off words from the rest of the sentence (but only in certain situations, as explained below). Example: In 2003, the Academy Award for best original song was given for the first time ever to a rap song—“Lose Yourself.” en dash: the “short dash” (–), which is longer than a hyphen but shorter than the em dash. Used correctly, the en dash usually means “through” (as in “to”). It thereby can indicate some sort of range (normally involving numbers or, less often, letters). Example: Read pp. 14–31 in your book. Grammar Trivia: The Long and the Short of Dash Etymology According to one theory, the em dash gets its name from being about the width of the letter m, while the en dash is so named by being about the size of—you guessed it—an n. Another theory claims the more precise etymology is that the names were taken from typesetter jargon: en and em refer to units of measurement in typesetting. But even this jargon can be traced back to conventional widths of m and n. To complicate matters, there is the hyphen (-), which many people mistakenly assume is like the em dash. As explained later, the hyphen is usually reserved for separating parts of a word (as in pre-examination) or for joining two or more words (as in modern-era politics). In truth, few readers notice or care if a hyphen is used in place of the en dash to separate numbers or letters (as in Rows a-f versus Rows a–f). At one time, the en dash was available only to professional typesetters, but technically it is now available on most word processing programs, complicating matters for everyday writers. Most writers can use a hyphen in place of the en dash, and we recommend doing so unless you are aiming for publication-worthy material, such as a company brochure or website. Our discussion focuses on the em dash. Unless noted otherwise, we henceforth use the term “dash” to refer specifically to the em dash (—). Grammar Tip Use the em dash (—) only to separate parts of a sentence. Do not use this dash to combine two or more words, to separate a word into its parts, or to mean “through.” Finding the Dash on a Keyboard Rarely will you find just one key on a keyboard to type a dash, but it is still easy to produce or imitate: Type two hyphens, but with no space before, between, or after them (--). The hyphen (-) is normally found at the top of the keyboard, to the right of the zero (0). Most word processors auto-format (or auto-correct) a double hyphen into a solid dash (—). If a solid dash does not appear, the double hyphen (--) is acceptable to most readers, unless the writing is meant to appear clearly professional and polished (e.g., a published article). Once again, though, never confuse the single hyphen with a dash. You can enable or disable the auto-formatting by accessing the appropriate option in your word processing program. Most versions of Microsoft Word require users to go to the “Insert” tab, select “Symbols,” choose “Special Characters,” select “em dash,” and then click on “AutoCorrect” to find the auto-format option you prefer. Another way to produce the em dash is to press the Alt key and type 0151 on the numeric keypad. Auto-format in Microsoft Word can also produce the en dash: Type the range of letters or numbers you want, placing one hyphen between them. Leave a space before and after the hyphen for auto-format to work. This way, the en dash automatically replaces a hyphen if you type “the years 1940 – 1945” but only if you place a space before and after the hyphen, meaning you must then delete the spaces once the en dash appears (as in “the years 1940–1945”). You can enable or disable this auto-format option in Microsoft Word by again accessing the aforementioned “Insert” and “Symbols” tabs. Or press the Alt key and type 0140 on the numeric keypad. Spacing and Dashes Many organizations and publishers have their own preferences about having a space before or after a dash, but following are the most common conventions in the United States: The “regular” (or em) dash: Do not place a space before or after this dash. And if you must use two hyphens to serve as a dash, do not put a space between the hyphens. Examples: Water—one resource we can never replace. Water--one resource we can never replace. The “short” (or en) dash: Do not set off with spaces before or after. Examples: Groups A–G. Ages 2–6. To automatically produce the en dash, some word-processors (such as Microsoft Word) require you to type a space before and after a hyphen. Thus, after the en dash appears because of auto-format, delete these spaces. The en dash will remain. However, most people routinely use and accept a hyphen that takes the place of an en dash. Using the Dash For some individuals, a dash (—) is considered “all-purpose” punctuation used when they are in doubt about what to use. Or they just like dashes and assume we all do. With informal writing, most readers are tolerant of overused dashes, but dashes should be sparingly used in formal contexts. Indeed, some readers and organizations prefer no dashes at all, even when they are technically correct. In this section, we focus on the three major uses of the em dash (see the previous definition), but even these dashes could be replaced with other punctuation or, at times, with nothing at all. As noted previously, em dashes set off words from the rest of the sentence. Note: All three uses discussed below illustrate how the dash should be reserved for setting off a group of words that is not grammatically essential. The ideas set off by a dash might be very important in terms of meaning, but the sentence would be grammatically complete without it. Function 1: To Set Off an Introductory or Concluding Idea A dash can often replace a colon because both can set off words that were “announced” in the other part of the sentence. Typically, this announcement comes after the colon; it is information that readers expect because of what the rest of the sentence says (see the section on colons in Chapter 13). Most often, this dash acts like a colon to set off the concluding part of the sentence, especially lists. What comes after the dash “announces” or “amplifies” a specific idea or word that we expect to see explained. In the following two examples, items and fine are used in a way that makes us expect more detail: The customer requested several items—pencils, ink cartridges, envelopes, and hummus. The judge imposed a harsh fine—$25,000. At times, however, these ideas or lists appear at the start of the sentence, and a dash (or colon) sets of them off from what follows. This “introductory announcement” is used in the following variations of the previous two examples: Pencils, ink cartridges, envelopes, and hummus—the customer requested all these items. $25,000—that was the harsh fine the judge imposed. Grammar Tip Not just any introduction or conclusion can be set off with a dash or a colon. First, it should be an idea that the rest of the sentence seems to “announce,” clearly creating an expectation for more detail. Second, whether you use a dash or a colon to set off an idea at the start or end of a sentence, make sure that the rest of the sentence can stand alone as a complete sentence. Function 2: To Set Off Phrases That Contain Commas In some complicated sentences, a group of words might need two types of commas: (1) commas between the words and (2) commas that set off the whole group from the rest of the sentence. A pair of dashes can replace the second type of comma. Consider how confusing this sentence would be if commas were used instead of the dashes. Correct: Dr. Lopez—a calm, reasonable, and respected physician—will serve as our consultant. Remember: Dashes cannot replace any comma. As seen in the above example, dashes correctly replace commas that set off a single group of words that have their own commas. Put another way, dashes replace the “outside” commas for a distinct group of words, while the “inside commas” remain because they are needed to separate words within the group. Although parentheses de-emphasize the idea being set off, they can replace dashes in this type of structure. Use this type of dash, then, only when you could opt for parentheses, as seen in the following revision of the above example: Correct: Dr. Lopez (a calm, reasonable, and respected physician) will serve as our consultant. Function 3: To Emphasize an Idea Now we come to the dash most likely to be overused or unappreciated in formal writing: the dash whose sole purpose is to emphasize part of a sentence. Unlike the previous two functions, this “emphatic dash” deals not so much with syntax as with a particular concept the writer wants to highlight. That subjectivity is one reason why many readers do not care for dashes in formal writing. These comments are often called “parenthetical remarks” because parentheses can be used instead of dashes to show that an idea is (supposedly) superfluous. In brief, emphatic dashes set off words and often do not replace any required punctuation. The next two sentences correctly use emphatic dashes, and if they were omitted, no comma (or other punctuation) is firmly required. If commas were used, they too would be for stylistic effect and emphasis, not because of a rule requiring punctuation. Dashes or commas are thus optional in these examples: Optional punctuation: Report for work by 8:00 a.m.—no matter how far away you live. Optional punctuation: I am giving you official notice—for the second time—that your punctuality is required. At times, however, the emphatic dash does replace required punctuation: a comma of some sort. (Why these commas might be required is too varied and complicated to discuss here, so we refer you to Chapter 11 on their many functions.) In these next examples, dashes replace commas that would otherwise be required. Required punctuation: My only neighbor—Audie Phillips—is moving to Kansas City. Required punctuation: Audie—who has lived here for 50 years—has mixed feelings about the move. Finally, some emphatic dashes go further: calling attention to an idea but also suggesting that it is “tossed in” as a personal aside or comment that perhaps is unnecessary. While such dashes suggest that these ideas might be unnecessary, in truth they can convey what the writer really wants readers to notice, as seen in the following second example in particular: The mayor—and it pains me to say this—resigned last night. We had heard about her “indiscretions”—and you know what that means—for months. This variation of the emphatic dash is similar to the “just saying” remark people use informally to say something that is emphatic even though it is allegedly “just” a casual observation. Given such ambiguity, the “just saying” remark should be used sparingly in formal writing. Grammar Trivia: Setting Things Straight With Dashes The em or en dash are sometimes called an “em rule” or an “en rule”—not because they deal with a law but because they are a straight line, like a ruler. Hyphens The hyphen (-) is no less complicated than the visually similar dash. Indeed, dictionaries and usage guidelines do not agree on several aspects of hyphenation, such as when to use the slightly longer en dash (–) or when to use nothing at all in a particular compound word. As stated previously, the em dash (—) should never be mistaken for a hyphen. Thus, to understand what a hyphen does and does not do, read the previous discussion on the dash, especially the em dash. Both the hyphen and the slash ( / ) can join words, so also read the section later in this chapter on slashes. Unlike the em dash, the en dash can almost always be replaced by a hyphen in formal writing. The en dash (–) is shorter than an em dash (—) but longer than a hyphen (-). Some punctuation guidelines still require the en dash in certain situations (e.g., a range of page numbers or even with certain types of compound words). Still, relatively few readers or organizations expect people to use the en dash even in unpublished formal writing, as this dash is normally the concern of professional typesetters and editors. We therefore suggest using a hyphen even in situations when a publisher or typesetting specialist might replace some hyphens with en dashes. When to Use a Hyphen A thorough list of when to use a hyphen is daunting, but keep in mind this overarching function: Hyphen = combining two or more language choices into one idea Whether the hyphen combines two words (well-being), adds a prefix to an adjective (half-empty glass), or it can, like an en dash, indicate a range of numbers (pages 2-12)—the hyphen creates a single idea out of two or more concepts. But keep the hyphen in reserve for when it is truly needed, such as clarifying the intended meaning of a word. For instance, one might use re-sign (as in signing a document again) rather than resign (to quit). Grammar Tip Although not in total agreement, dictionaries are still a good resource for determining if a word is hyphenated, especially with Categories 2, 9, and 10 below. Most spellcheckers are similarly useful with these three categories. If a dictionary provides both a hyphenated and nonhyphenated spelling, the latter version has increasingly become the preferred choice in the United States. For those needing more detail, below is a summary (in no particular order) of the most common situations permitting or requiring a hyphen. Categories marked with an asterisk (*) are explained more fully afterwards. 1.* To join complete words in certain compound adjectives. More specifically—to join two or more complete words that together serve as a single adjective which describes a noun that comes afterwards: well-dressed person, a one-way street, ten-year-old child, state-of-the-art computer, two-person bed, a grown-up’s approval, half-empty glass, check-in time, five-dollar fee. 2.* To join complete words to create certain compound nouns: my mother-in-law, your well-being, several four-year-olds, a pick-me-up, a stop-off, a recent break-in, editor-in-chief. 3.* To indicate a relationship between people or things in a compound noun or adjective: the suburban-urban population, a mother-daughter connection, a McGraw-Hill publication, Chicago-Detroit flight, U.S.-British policy, African-Americans, Jane Doe-Smith, Soviet-European tensions. 4. To spell out compound numbers from 21 to 99: forty-two, fifty-fifth, sixty-eight, one hundred and thirty-two. 5. To spell out fractions or proportions: one-fourth of the winnings, two and one-half miles, two-eighths of a meter, a half-hour discussion. 6. To separate numbers that are in numeral form: from 2001-2005, a score of 14-3, vote of 42-12, pages 13-21, 2-3 odds, ratio of 2-1. (A colon can also indicate odds or ratios, as in 2:3 odds or a ratio of 2:1). 7. To join a letter to a word. B-team, X-ray, X-Men, T-shirt. (Some dictionaries provide a nonhyphenated option for a few words, such as X ray.) 8. To join a prefix with a number, an abbreviation, or a proper noun: pre-1900, mid-80s, pre-NATO, mid-April, non-American, Trans-Pacific, neo-Aristotelian. 9. To join a prefix to a word that starts with the same vowel that ended the prefix. Examples: anti-immune, anti-intellectual, re-enter, retro-orbital, semi-informal, semi-identical, co-op, pre-emptive. Note: Despite many exceptions, a hyphen is sometimes used when different vowels are involved (as in semi-arid, anti-aging, meta-ethnic). While some style guides say that it all depends on certain combinations of vowels and that the hyphen helps with pronunciation, these details are difficult to remember. A reliable dictionary is the best tool. 10. To attach certain other prefixes: all-knowing, self-aware, self-service, ex-president, half-baked, quarter-pounder, semi-illiterate. Note: The prefixes all-, self-, and ex- usually require a hyphen, but hyphenation with other prefixes is again difficult to predict, largely because it is a matter of whether the word “looks awkward” or could be mispronounced. Again a credible dictionary will usually resolve the matter. 11. To attach the suffixes -type, -elect, and -designate: administrative-type decision, the president-elect, the governor-designate. 12. To divide a word at the end of a line if the entire word does not fit. The hyphen is placed between syllables: super-visory, docu-ment, semi-relevant. 13. To indicate that you are creating a word having distinct parts: a Kennedy-esque incident, semicolon-ize the sentence, three not-cat pets. This “invention” is usually done in a payful (and one-time) way. Grammar Tip People often overhyphenate because they start seeing compound words everywhere. As the saying goes—if in doubt, it’s usually best to leave it out. Most words in a given sentence are somehow associated with nearby words, so do not consider the hyphen the norm. Hyphenating a compound is the exception and is prudently used to prevent confusion, mispronunciation, or awkward wording. The same caution applies to prefixes and suffixes: hyphenate sparingly. More on Hyphens With Compound Adjectives In Category 1 above (compound adjectives), each sample adjective precedes a noun. The hyphen makes it clear that certain words work together as a single concept describing a noun. The first sentence below uses one of the examples, while the second sentence incorrectly omits the hyphen. Correct: Your check-in time is 3:30 p.m. X Your check in time is 3:30 p.m. Readers of the first version probably would not think it refers to “your check” or to “in time.” The second sentence, however, looks awkward, especially compared to the hyphenated version. Still, compound adjectives are not always hyphenated, especially when there is little or no chance of misreading them or awkwardness. Hyphenation often depends on where the adjective appears in relation to the word it modifies. Remember the following rule of thumb: Grammar Tip When a compound adjective appears after the noun it modifies, do not hyphenate. A typical example of this tip occurs when a compound adjective appears after a linking verb (such as is, are, was, were). The adjective “bends back” to describe the subject of that verb. In the following three correct linking-verb sentences, no hyphen is needed for the underlined compound adjectives: That street is one way. Mr. Dibny was well dressed as usual. The glass appears half empty. Even though they are listed above in Category 1, the single-underlined adjectives above all come after the double-underlined nouns they modify. As a result, the adjectives are neither confusing nor awkward, suggesting that they should not be hyphenated. Grammar Trivia: Verb-izing the Hyphen The hyphen is the only punctuation that developed a verb form in English (to hyphenate). One does not “comma-ize” or “semicolon-ate,” while the verbs quote and exclaim predate the use of quotation and exclamation marks. More on Hyphens With Compound Nouns As with compound adjectives, avoid hyphenating every concept that is composed of separate words. Admittedly, whether or not a compound noun is hyphenated might seem arbitrary, yet there are reliable guidelines and resources. Compound nouns are likely to appear in credible dictionaries, and spellcheckers are also useful in determining if a noun needs a hyphen. Some dictionaries indicate that the hyphen is optional in some words. Again, the preference nowadays in professional or formal writing is the nonhyphenated option. In fact, some compound nouns that once were frequently hyphenated no longer have a hyphenated option in many (but not all) current dictionaries and style guides, email and chatroom being relatively recent examples. Don’t confuse compound nouns with compound adjectives. Some terms, with slight modification, can be either. It depends on how they are used in a sentence. Hyphenated compound adjective: Several four-year-old children ran amok in the theater. Nonhyphenated compound adjective: The children running amok were four years old. Compound noun: Several four-year-olds ran amok. Compound noun: I saw several four-year-olds run amok. The first sentence above correctly hyphenates the compound adjective because it appears before its noun. The second sentence correctly omits the hyphen in accordance with the tip given above. That is, four years old appears after the noun it describes. And the last two sentences contain compound nouns that all grammar style guides would hyphenate, no matter where the words appear in a sentence. The aforementioned grammar tip for compound adjectives is thus irrelevant for compound nouns. More on Hyphens Indicating a Relationship Although hyphens join words and ideas that are closely related, Category 3 in our list refers to how some hyphenated words reflect even more of a “joint venture” or partnership—emphasizing the nature of that relationship as a whole, not the meaning of each individual word. In mother-daughter connection, for example, the term mother is not describing daughter. Instead, the two words work equally together to refer to how two family members relate to each other. Using a hyphen rather than a slash is considered more acceptable (see our section on slashes above and later in this chapter). In regard to the example Jane Doe-Smith, we can assume that Jane used a hyphen to establish a name that reflects an identity associated with two families. As with many compound proper nouns, this hyphen is optional and is up to the discretion of the individual whose name it is. Similarly, the hyphen has long been used to join words to create proper nouns and adjectives that indicate ethnicity or cultural identification (Afro-American, Asian-American, Irish-Americans, Anglo-American, etc.). Although there are strong opinions on this matter, the current trend across a diverse range of communities and contexts is to omit the hyphen. Parentheses Parentheses come in pairs (as shown here), but the term parenthesis refers to just one mark. The most widespread use of parentheses is to set off words, phrases, a sentence, or even many sentences that are not strictly necessary—either grammatically or in terms of meaning. First, we offer a more complete list of when parentheses can be used. Then, we provide a guide for using other punctuation placed near parentheses. Grammar Tip You should be able to “lift out” anything in parentheses and still have a complete sentence remaining, which should retain the same punctuation. Never put anything in parentheses that is grammatically essential to the sentence. Example: On my birthday (October 23), I will be in Boston. Function 1: To Provide “Extra Ideas” This function results in what people call a “parenthetical comment”: an idea that might not be essential but that adds clarity or, less often, something the writer believes is interesting—such as an aside, a digression, or humor. While commas or a dash can achieve the same purpose, parentheses may be sparingly used in most writing to set off extra ideas. Beware of putting truly essential information in parentheses, but sometimes a sentence is not completely clear without a parenthetical clarification. That apparent contradiction means that the rules can be flexible in this regard. In the first example below, parentheses set off a definition that most people would need, but parentheses are still correct because the sentence technically provides all the needed information. Fortunately for him, Tarzan did not suffer from dendrophobia (a severe fear of trees). In the next example, the parenthetical comment might clarify the matter but is supposedly not truly essential. A reader might still wonder if this particular information is a “hint” about a point the writer wants to make without explicitly stating it. In any case, the parentheses are technically correct even if misleading about the writer’s real point. Four employees (two newly hired, two long-time employees) forgot their badges this week. The next two examples fall more into the “aside” category: an interesting fact or comment. The first sentence below seems more like a trivia item when compared to both of the previous examples. The final parenthetical comment provides a personal opinion, not just information: Mel Gibson was the first actor to portray Mad Max (whose real name according to the first film was Max Rockatansky). Max was played by one other actor (the one who also played a great villain in a Batman film). It is often difficult to distinguish between a parenthetical comment intended as useful information versus an aside with less-functional commentary, innuendo, or minutia. The context might clarify the intent, but clear communication avoids parenthetical comments that invite people to read between the lines (or between parentheses) to discern the author’s meaning. Function 2: To Avoid Awkward Syntax While they should not be overused, parentheses can set off related words to make a sentence more readable. This function is similar to the previous category of parenthetical elements, but parentheses do not always depend on simply whether the language adds content or is interesting. By setting off a group of words, parentheses can also make complicated sentences easier to read. Commas (or dashes) can achieve the same purpose, but often parentheses make a sentence less confusing by cutting down on the number of commas already within it. Note the complexity of the following examples and how setting off certain parts makes each sentence easier to follow: The most famous features of peacocks (the crested head, brilliant plumage, and extremely long feathers) are found only among the males. Despite numerous exceptions, a hyphen is sometimes used after a prefix that ends with a vowel different from the other than the vowel that starts off the root word (as in semi-arid, anti-aging, meta-ethnic). Dictionaries and style guides are not in agreement about many of these words, so use the form that is consistent with the resource you or your organization normally follows. Grammar Trivia: Parenthetical Minutiae Outside the United States, parentheses are sometimes called curved brackets (or even round brackets). Function 3: To Clarify an Abbreviation This category is also a type of parenthetical comment but deserves its own discussion due to the importance of this overlooked (or sometimes overused) function. In brief, parentheses can explain an abbreviation that might be unclear to readers. The most common approach is to use the full form of the word or words in the abbreviation first and immediately follow it with an abbreviated form that is placed in parentheses. Thereafter, use only the abbreviation, assuming your readers have seen and remembered what it means. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) made a surprising announcement early this morning. Six hours later, the BBC retracted the announcement. Another approach is to start with the abbreviation and follow it with a parenthetical clarification. This option works satisfactorily when most, but not all, of your readers already know what the abbreviation means. Paul said that he will BRB (be right back). He’d better BRB if he wants to ever text me again. Grammar Tip Many abbreviations are needlessly placed in parentheses. If you use the full term just once, there is little point in providing the abbreviation. Similarly, when all readers know what the abbreviation means, there is no reason for a parenthetical explanation, which could be seen as condescending. For instance, if your readers are British adults, they should know what BBC stands for, just as American readers understand the meaning of USA. Function 4: Specialized Uses Parentheses have a few other purposes, mostly relating to certain types of writing or situations. Below are three specialized uses: 1. In writing that incorporates formal research, most documentation systems call for parenthetical citations to indicate the writer’s sources. Two of the most common systems requiring parentheses are the MLA (Modern Language Association) and the APA (American Psychological Association). In all these systems, any ending period goes outside the parentheses. Example: The governor spent $450,000 on advertisements in the last month of the election (Greene, 2018). 2. To enhance readability or be emphatic, you can also place numbers or letters inside parentheses to separate related items, such as in a list. Keep the same grammatical structure after each parenthesis. Example: You need to provide (1) evidence that your trip dealt with company business, (2) receipts for all expenses for which you seek reimbursement, and (3) a written explanation covering why you took a three-day detour to Miami. 3. Parentheses are also often used in technical writing, especially when dealing with mathematics, formal logic, chemistry, or computer sciences. Example: If (a AND b) OR (c AND d) then . . . . Parentheses and Other Punctuation No matter which function is involved, parentheses sometimes appear right next to other punctuation, most notably at the end of a sentence. The following guidelines apply to practically any function of parentheses: • For sentences ending with parentheses, the most common pattern by far involves a normal (declarative) sentence. It requires a period outside the closing parenthesis, usually with no end punctuation that appears immediately inside the closing parenthesis. Accordingly, none of the following three correct examples should have a period inside the parentheses. One major change with this product concerns its UPC (Universal Product Code). Rubber bands last longer when stored in a refrigerator (they can also be easier to find). A landmark study supports this claim (Fries and Snart, 2001). As seen below, a final period is required even if whatever is inside parentheses is a question or and exclamation. But in those rare situations, place a question mark (?) or an exclamation point (!) immediately inside the final parenthesis. The only U.S. state having a name with just one syllable is Maine (is this an important fact really?). The officer gave me a speeding ticket (I was only 10 miles over the limit!). Grammar Tip Pretend to lift out everything inside the parentheses. Would you place a question mark or an exclamation point at the end of what you removed? If so, use the same punctuation inside the parenthesis when you put the material back where it belongs. Otherwise, do not put any punctuation at all right before the closing parenthesis. You will still need punctuation of some sort after the parenthesis but this tip determines what punctuation, if any, goes immediately before the closing parenthesis. • If the entire sentence is a question or an exclamation, place a question mark or an exclamation point outside the final parenthesis, regardless of what is inside the parentheses. Again, there is no need for a period before the final parenthesis. Can you attend the interrogation of Mr. Nygma this Friday (7:30 a.m. in room 111)? On rare occasions, however, end punctuation is used twice. As seen in these two examples, place the question mark or the exclamation point inside the final parenthesis if that material by itself is a question or is exclaimed. Did you know that the movie Blade Runner is based on a novel by Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)? The officer gave me a speeding ticket (I was only 10 miles over the limit!). Because the first sentence as a whole is a question, a second question mark is needed outside the parenthesis. The second sentence needs a period outside the final parenthesis, even though there is a nearby exclamation point for the parenthetical statement. • If the entire parenthetical comment is a complete sentence, putting the comment entirely outside the previous sentence is optional. In such cases, place appropriate punctuation inside the final parenthesis, not after it. Fredric Baur invented the method for packaging Pringles. (When he died, his ashes were buried in a Pringles can.) Steve left work early today. (Or was it yesterday?) • Do not put a comma immediately preceding any initial parenthesis. A comma might be needed after the second parenthesis, but it has nothing to do with using parenthesis. When completing the required document (the Project Management Report), be sure to initial each page. Shel Silverstein is known for his children’s books (such as The Giving Tree), but he also wrote the song “A Boy Named Sue,” made famous by country singer Johnny Cash. Brackets In the United States, the word bracket by itself refers to a specific punctuation mark that always comes in pairs: [ ]. Outside the United States, these are sometimes referred to as square brackets. Except for specialized uses in technical fields (e.g., phonetics, mathematics, and computer programming), almost all brackets are limited to one basic purpose: Brackets = setting off material that is inside a quotation—but not part of the actual quote This general purpose leads to several more specific functions. Function 1: Clarifying Quoted Material First and foremost, brackets are used inside direct quotations in order to clarify wording that might otherwise be confusing, mainly because the quotation appears out of context. Clarifying a quoted pronoun is especially common, although other terms might also need a bracketed explanation. In her e-mail to the chief engineer, Dr. Landers stated, “She [the assistant engineer] must request approval for additional supplies.” The plaintiff said, “My new employer [Dunder Mifflin, Inc.] offered a higher salary and better working conditions.” Brackets can also clarify by translating foreign terminology, but only within a direct quotation (in other situations, use parentheses). Our Swahili friend wrote, “Although I hope we meet again, kwaheri [good-bye] for now.” I replied with the traditional Klingon farewell, “Qapla’ [Success]!” Function 2: Identifying Errors Brackets can indicate that you as the writer realize that a direct quotation contains an error, usually a grammatical or spelling mistake. Appearing immediately after the error, the bracketed material either corrects the error or uses the term sic (usually italicized) to point out that the mistake is not the writer’s doing. You wrote in your report that, “you had enuf [enough] of your supervisor’s attitude.” You wrote in your report that “you had enuf [sic] of your supervisor’s attitude.” While not the traditional approach, it is largely acceptable to use just the bracketed correction, omitting the original error. You wrote in your report that “you had [enough] of your supervisor’s attitude.” Grammar Trivia: A sic Mistake When used inside brackets, sic means “as is, including the mistake.” It is an old Latin word and, contrary to what some people believe, is not an abbreviation that stands for something akin to “said in context” or “spelled incorrectly.” Function 3: Indication of an Omission Brackets used with ellipses (spaced periods) indicate the place where you left out part of a direct quotation for the purpose of being more concise. Some style guides indicate that brackets are not needed with ellipses, but brackets clearly indicate that you added ellipses and that they were not in the original: In Lord of the Rings, J. R. R Tolkien wrote, “It was as if they stood at the window of some elven-tower, curtained with threaded jewels [ . . . ] kindled with an unconsuming fire.” Function 4: Making Other Stylistic Changes Brackets can indicate that you changed someone’s language to make part of the quote fit into your own syntax or style. The first sentence below uses lowercase (rather than the original capital letter) in those to make it fit the way the sentence integrates the quote. The second example replaces Johnson’s original he with us so that all pronouns in the sentence are plural (and not gender specific). Take great care not to use new wording that distorts the original meaning: I agree with John F. Kennedy that “[t]hose who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” As Samuel Johnson would remind us, our true measure as a people rests in how we “treat someone who can do [us] no good.” Grammar Tip Reading through numerous brackets or parentheses in a document is like reading through venetian blinds. They interrupt the flow of reading, so use them sparingly and be as brief as possible with whatever goes inside them. If you are using brackets to get a quotation to fit into your sentence, consider rewording your sentence so that no brackets are needed at all. In addition, brackets can indicate that original words were deleted entirely because they were offensive or incomprehensible. According to the audio recording, the salesperson said, “Take your [expletive deleted] credit card and shop elsewhere!” The customer walked away and said: “Fine, but I will talk to your supervisor before I go to [inaudible wording].” Finally, if you use a special font (e.g., underlining, italics, boldface) to emphasize words, the conventional approach is to place [emphasis added] within the quotation. As Martin Luther King wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere [emphasis added].” Slashes Despite a surprising number of functions, the slash ( / ) is rarely used in formal writing, although it appears relatively often in programming languages, web addresses, chemistry notations, and even some social media messages. Technically, this punctuation mark is a forward slash, as opposed to the backslash ( \ ) that has no conventional use in formal writing. The term virgule and solidus refer to a forward slash, and at one time it was frequently called an oblique. We use slash to refer specifically to a forward slash ( / ). Grammar Trivia: Getting Medieval with Slashes In medieval times, the slash was sometimes used in places where we now use a comma. Today’s slash has almost no connection to commas. An exception is a slash that indicates line breaks in poetry—a function that still retains a semblance of the “pause” quality of commas. Almost all slashes in formal writing come down to one overarching purpose: A slash indicates a close connection between letters, numbers, words, or lines Regardless of its specific use, a slash rarely has a space right before or after it. The exception deals with lines from a poem or song, as discussed below. What’s the problem? The problem with the slash involves the first three of the five functions we describe below. Put briefly, readers might not know whether a slash is used to combine a pair of words stands for or, versus, or and. Indeed, the most common function of a slash in nontechnical writing is to connect two words, but only in specific cases. Some instances allow either a hyphen or a slash, but not always. As seen in the following two sentences, hyphens and slashes can have different meanings: Use your student-teacher discount. (A discount for someone who is both a student and a teacher.) Use your student/teacher discount. (A discount for someone who is either a student or a teacher.) Although context can clarify such matters, it is best to avoid a slash for combining words unless you are sure that it is used clearly and correctly. Even when the slash is technically correct, consider the alternatives, such as replacing the slash in the last example above with the coordinating conjunction or (as in student or teacher discount). When using a slash effectively, it will usually achieve one of the following purposes. Function 1: To Mean Or As noted, a slash can mean or—as in one or the other of something, but not both. This type of slash, even though it can almost always be replaced by or, is one of the most common uses: Each person should complete his/her own report. Your grading for this course will be pass/fail. Every man/woman who served in the military will receive a discount. We can begin the meeting only if/when the CEO arrives. You can use this voucher for lunch and/or dinner. The last sentence above might appear to refer to both words (and, or). However, and/or is still making a distinction between two options: using the voucher for both meals or using it for just one. Grammar Tip When combining two words, the slash meaning “or” is the most widely accepted function of a slash. Unlike some other slashes, this type can never be replaced by a hyphen because a hyphen will never mean or. Thus, if you can replace a slash with or, you almost certainly made a correct choice, even if some readers would rather you simply used or instead. The term and/or is a rare exception to replacing the slash with or. Function 2: To Mean Versus Some slashes take the “or” distinction between ideas further by indicating a conflict or competition. This function is effective only when the sentence and context make this meaning clear. In the following examples, the noun after each italicised term helps readers interpret the slash as versus. This slash cannot be replaced by or, and a hyphen would incorrectly indicate a collaborative, rather than competing, relationship between two ideas. The liberal/conservative division in this state has intensified. I am interested in the Cowboys/Eagles game this weekend. The creationism/evolution debate is far from settled in many areas of the country. A rural/urban rivalry arose once the government cut agricultural funding. Function 3: To Mean And For better and for worse, a slash is often used to replace the coordinating conjunction and. More specifically, think of this slash as emphasizing how something is “both X and Y”: [image: Images] Important: This use of a slash is the most precarious of all its functions. Some style guides discourage or prohibit a slash meaning and because people overuse it, especially when a hyphen is needed or preferred (see our previous discussion on hyphens with compound nouns and adjectives.) Even so, an occasional slash can sometimes effectively mean “both X and Y,” much like certain hyphens. Compared to a hyphen, a slash creates a firmer boundary between X and Y so that the reader understands that X is not modifying Y. We suggest using this slash only when a hyphen might not convey the intended meaning, especially for readers unfamiliar with a given term or idea. My cousin is interested in the MA/MFA program at a nearby university. (To readers unfamiliar with graduate programs, MA-MFA can suggest a progression from an MA to MFA—or perhaps a type of MFA.) Paulo is our secretary/treasurer. (Readers unfamiliar with organizational titles might assume that the hyphenated form is a type of treasurer, rather than one person being both secretary and treasurer.) We will study the legacy of the Reagan/Bush approach to economics (For many readers, Reagan-Bush can suggest a progression from one president to another, but the slash can refer to an approach formulated by both men and not necessarily just during their presidencies.) In sum, use a slash to stand for and only when the hyphenated form might be confusing. Function 4: To Indicate a Line Break In contrast to the above three functions, some slashes do not involve meaning. They just show where a line break originally occurred in something you are quoting—such as lines from a poem, song lyrics, or any instance when the original line break is important. Normally, one sets off such lines by indenting all of them and providing line breaks exactly as they appear in the original work. The slash is used only when you directly quote two or more lines within your own sentence. In a poem about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Margarita Engle describes what she did in school during “duck and cover” drills: “Hide under a desk. / Pretend that furniture is enough to protect us against perilous flames. / Radiation. Contamination. Toxic breath.” The rock song “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses begins with a loving tribute to one band member’s girlfriend: “She’s got a smile it seems to me / Reminds me of childhood memories / Where everything / Was as fresh as the bright blue sky.” Because this type of slash combines more than just two words, it is the only slash that can have a space before and after. Function 5: To Abbreviate and Condense Numbers, Dates, and Ratios Although usually considered informal at times, a slash can serve as shorthand for concepts involving numbers or ratios. Below are instances of the “abbreviating slash” (outside the United States, these conventions might differ, often calling for a hyphen instead): To stand for per in a ratio: $15/hour wage, a speed of 65 miles/hour, gas mileage of 40 miles/gallon. To abbreviate dates: 7/1/57, 8/12/2018, the events of 9/11. Spell out most dates in formal writing (9/11 is an exception), but slashes or hyphens are frequently used to provide dates on forms and applications. To indicate a time span: the 2018/19 fiscal year, 1992/3 basketball season (this format is acceptable but not as common). The slash is limited to indicating two consecutive years, and the second year must be abbreviated to one or two numbers. A hyphen is often used to indicate a time span and is more flexible, because it can cover more than two years and the last year does not have to be abbreviated (2018-2019 is thus correct). To express fractions in numeral form: ½ or ¼ (use hyphens if written out, as in one-half or one-fourth). Summary • Dashes come in two forms: the em dash (—) and the en dash (–) which is shorter than the em dash but longer than a hyphen (-). The en dash is normally only the concern of publication specialists and can normally be replaced by a hyphen. • The em dash (—) is often considered informal but has several legitimate functions. All functions involve a dash being used to set off words from the rest of the sentence, but only in certain situations and sentence structures. • A hyphen (-) combines two or more language choices into one idea. A hyphen should be used only in certain circumstances, such as spelling out fractions (one-fifth) or indicating a range (2012-2019). • The most common use of parentheses is setting off “extra ideas” from the rest of a sentence. The words inside parentheses should not be grammatically essential to the rest of the sentence. • Brackets are primarily used to set off clarifying material that is placed inside a direct quotation but is not part of the original quote. • A slash ( / ) is used in special circumstances to indicate certain connections between letters, numbers, or words. One of the more common functions is to stand for “or” (he/she). Index Please note that index links point to page beginnings from the print edition. Locations are approximate in e-readers, and you may need to page down one or more times after clicking a link to get to the indexed material. Note: Bold page numbers indicate Glossary terms. Abbreviations capitalized, 350 emoticons, 334, 335, 341, 344–345 grammar checkers and, 350 hyphens to attach prefixes to, 287, 298 parentheses to clarify, 287, 304–305 plural, apostrophes with, 255 slashes with numerical concepts, 289, 314–315 in textspeak, 334, 340–344 Abstract nouns, 6, 373 Action verbs, 6, 28–29, 373 active voice and, 91–93 complements of, 33–36, 37 linking verbs as, 32 Active voice, of verbs, 91–93, 373 Acts, capitalization of, 323 Adjective(s), 3, 8–12, 373–374. See also Adjective clause(s) adverb clauses as modifiers of, 49, 50, 54–55 adverbs as modifiers of, 14–15 adverbs vs., 9–10 categories of, 233 commas with, 212, 232–235 comparative forms of, 11–12, 55 compound compound nouns vs., 301 hyphens to indicate relationships in, 298, 301–302 hyphens to join parts of, 287, 297, 299–300 as plural singulars, 39 converting this and that to, 161 coordinate, commas and, 232, 233, 234 defined, 232 descriptive, 11–12 as determiners, 10–11, 233 forms of, 11–12 hyphens to indicate relationships in, 298, 301–302 infinitive phrases as, 106 as noun modifiers, 8–10 as object complements, 35, 36 possessives as, 10, 17 as predicate adjectives, 8–9, 30, 32, 36, 37, 43, 50, 54–55, 108–109 prepositional phrases as, 39–41 proper, 302 substantive, 55 superlative forms of, 11–12 Adjective clause(s), 55–62, 374 commas with, 210–211, 221–225, 349–350 nonrestrictive, 60–62 as postnoun modifiers, 127–128 relative pronouns for, 55–62 restrictive, 60–62 third-person pronoun test for, 56–57 Adjective object complements, 37, 374 Adjective prepositional phrases, 39–41, 374 as postnoun modifiers, 127–128 subject-verb agreement errors and, 41 third-person pronoun test for, 40–41 Adverb(s), 3, 12–15, 374. See also Conjunctive adverbs as adjective modifiers, 14–15 adjectives vs., 9–10 adverb clauses as modifiers of, 49, 50, 55 as adverb modifiers, 15, 50, 55 adverb prepositional phrases as modifiers of, 43–44 at beginning of sentence, 218, 226–227 comparative forms of, 55 infinitive phrases as, 106–109 misplaced adverb qualifiers, 199–200 movement test for, 13–14, 42–43, 69–70 prepositional phrases as, 42–44 question test for, 13 as sentence modifiers, 218 as squinting modifiers, 197, 198, 202–203 as verb modifiers, 12–14, 218 Adverb clause(s), 49, 50–55, 374 as adjective modifiers, 49, 50, 54–55 as adverb modifiers, 49, 50, 55 at beginning of sentence, 226–227 characteristics of, 226 commas with, 52–53, 211, 225–229 at end of sentence, 227–228 movement test for, 53–54, 65, 68–69 as verb modifiers, 49, 50, 51–54 Adverb clause movement test, 53–54 for conjunctive adverbs, 68–69 for noun clauses, 65 Adverb infinitive phrases, 106–109 modifying predicate adjectives, 108–109 modifying verbs, 107–108 Adverb movement test, 13–14, 42–43, 69–70 Adverb of place complements, 374 Adverb prepositional phrases, 42–44, 375 adverb movement test for, 42–43 to modify other adverbs, 43–44 to modify predicate adjectives, 43 as squinting modifiers, 202–203 Adverb quantifiers, 199, 375 Adverb question test, 13 Adverbials, 375 adverbial phrases, as dangling modifiers, 204–208 Age, adjectives for, 233 Agents, 375 Agreement, 375 pronoun-antecedent. See Pronoun antecedents subject-verb. See Subject-verb agreement And with coordinate adjectives, 235 pronoun replacement test for compound subjects joined with, 139–140 reflexive pronouns followed by, 165–166 slashes to stand for, 289, 313–314 Antecedents, 375 avoiding vague pronouns and, 157–159 nouns between pronoun and, 159–160 pronoun agreement with, 145–146, 170–177 reflexive pronouns and, 18–19, 163, 164–165 Apostrophes, 237–256 in contractions, 238, 246–250 in expressions of time, value, and measure, 238–239, 251–252 history of possessive, 240–241 to indicate subjects of gerund phrases, 239, 252–254 indicating possession, 237–238, 239–245 for numbers, 255 omitting in textspeak, 339 in plural abbreviations, 255 for plurals of letters, 239, 254–255 for uppercase letters, 255 Appositive(s), 229–232, 376 commas with, 211, 230, 231–232 confirming, 229 as introductory elements, 218 lists as, 286 Appositive phrases, 23, 24–27, 376 commas with, 24, 211, 230, 231–232 confirming, 229 essential vs. nonessential, 25–27 inverted appositives, 24–25 Are test, for plurals, 174 Articles, 376 as determiners, 10 the test for common nouns, 4–6 Bacon and eggs rule, for compound subjects, 138–140 Base form of a verb, 74–79, 376 Base-form predicate adjective, 54, 376 Base verb phrase complement, 376 Be apostrophes in contractions with forms of, 246 forms of, 31, 74–75, 140, 246 as linking verb, 31 in passive voice, 91–93 Because sentences, 116–118 Block quotations, 279 Brackets, 288–289, 308–310, 376 to clarify wording in quotes, 288, 308 to identify errors in quotes, 288, 308–309 to indicate deleted objectionable words, 289 to indicate omissions in quotations, 288, 309 to insert changes to fit style or structure, 288, 309–310 Can, as helping verb, 33 Capitalization, 317–326 of abbreviations, 350 of acts, treaties, laws, and government programs, 323 avoiding overuse in e-texts, 351 beginnings of sentences and, 325 after colons, 268, 325–326 and common nouns, 317–318 of cultural movements, 323 in direct quotations, 276–277, 325 of direct quotations inside paraphrases, 278 of events, 323 of names of groups of people, 320 of organization names, 322 of personal names, 317, 318–320 of place names, 317–318, 320–322 in poetry, 326 of proper nouns, 317–324 in textspeak, 338–339, 351 of things, 318, 322–324 of titles of persons, 318–320 of titles of works, 325 Cardinal numbers, 10, 377 Cases, 251–252, 377 Causative verbs, 189–191, 377 Citations colons in bibliographies, 264 parenthetical, 305 Clauses, 48–70, 377 dependent. See Dependent clauses adjective. See Adjective clause(s) adverb. See Adverb clause(s) noun. See Noun clauses independent. See Independent clauses lost subject test for, 131 subject-verb agreement errors in, 131 Colons, 257–258, 264–271, 377 avoiding problems with, 265–266 capitalization after, 268, 325–326 dashes to replace, 285–286, 293–294 functions, 264–265 to amplify previous words, 267 to indicate odds or ratios, 298 to set off direct quotations, 264, 276, 277 importance of using, 270–271 after independent clauses, 266 inside quotation marks, 281–282 lists and, 268–270, 285–286, 293–294 sentence fragments and, 270–271 with special formatting, 271 Color, adjectives for, 233 Comma(s), 209–235, 377 with adjective clauses, 210–211, 221–225, 349–350 with adjectives, 212, 232–235 with adverb clauses, 52–53, 211, 225–229 with appositives/appositive phrases, 24, 211, 230, 231–232 in comma splices, 114, 122–124, 349 compound sentences and, 209, 213–216 coordinate adjectives and, 232, 233, 234 coordinating conjunctions and, 209, 212–216, 219, 223 dashes in sentences with multiple, 286, 294–295 functions to avoid misreading, 220 to combine sentences, 213–216 to correct fragments, 118, 119 to correct fused sentences, 121 to prevent misreading, 220 to set off appositive phrases, 24, 211, 230, 231–232 to set off direct quotations, 276, 277 with introductory elements, 42–43, 209–210 with parentheses, 288, 307 parentheses vs., 302, 304 “punctuation butterflies,” 47 with quotation marks, 274, 280–281 with transitional terms, 262 Comma splices, 68, 114, 122–124, 377 avoiding, 122 correcting, 123–124 grammar checker for, 349 Commands/imperative sentences, 47, 74, 387 Common nouns, 377–378. See also Noun(s); Proper nouns identifying, 4 proper nouns vs., 4, 317–318 the test for, 4–6 Comparative adjectives, 11–12, 55, 378 Comparative adverbs, 55 Comparative-form predicate adjective, 55 Complements, 378 object, 35–36, 37 of verbs, 27–36 action verbs, 33–36, 37 linking verbs, 29–32, 36, 37 transitive verbs, 33–36, 37 Complements of prepositions, 378 Complete predicate, 27, 378. See also Verb phrases Complete subject, 23–24, 379 Complex items, semicolons for separating, 262–264 Complex sentences, 70–71, 262–264, 379 Compound, as term, 379 Compound adjectives compound nouns vs., 301 hyphens to indicate relationships in, 298, 301–302 hyphens to join parts of, 287, 297, 299–300 as plural singulars, 39 Compound-complex sentences, 70–71, 379 Compound names, possessive form of, 243 Compound nouns compound adjectives vs., 301 hyphens to create, 287, 298, 300–301 hyphens to indicate relationships in, 298, 301–302 Compound numbers, hyphens in, 287, 298 Compound prepositions, 39 Compound sentences, 70–71, 113, 379 commas and, 209, 213–216 pronouns in, 151–152, 165–166 semicolons and, 260 Compound subjects agreement with, 126, 135–141 bacon and eggs rule, 138–140 each and every rule, 138 one and the same rule, 137 formation of, 135–137 Concluding elements adverb clauses as, 227–228 dashes to set off, 293–294 punctuation. See Exclamation points; Period(s); Question marks sentence-ending prepositions, 44 Conjunctions, 3, 20–22, 380 coordinating. See Coordinating conjunctions correlative, 21–22, 136, 330–331 subordinating. See Subordinating conjunctions Conjunctive adverbs, 257, 260–261, 380. See also Adverb(s) adverb clause movement test for, 68–69 with adverb clauses that modify adjectives, 54 commas with, 262 deleting or moving, 261 flag words for, 68 as introductory elements, 218 for joining independent clauses, 67–70 list of common, 67 semicolons and, 260–261 subordinating conjunctions vs., 68–70 Contractions apostrophes in, 238, 246–250 in formal writing, 247–248 in textspeak, 339 Coordinate adjectives, 380 commas and, 232, 233, 234 placing and between, 235 switching, 234 Coordinating conjunctions, 20–22, 380 commas and, 209, 212–216, 219, 223 “FANBOYS” to remember, 21, 212–213 functions to correct comma splices, 124 to correct fused sentences, 121 to form compound subjects, 135–137 parallelism and, 327, 328–329 slashes vs., 311–312, 313–314 Correlative conjunctions, 21–22, 380 in forming compound subjects, 136 parallelism and, 330–331 Cultural movements, capitalization of, 323 Dangling modifiers, 197–198, 204–208, 349, 380–381 Dangling participles, 102–103 Dashes, 290–296, 381 em dash/long dash/true dash, 285, 290, 291, 292, 296 en dash/short dash, 285, 290, 291, 292–293, 296–297 functions, 285–286, 293–296 to emphasize ideas, 286, 295–296 to replace colons, 285–286, 293–294 to set off ideas, 285–286, 293–294 to set off phrases that contain multiple commas, 286, 294–295 to set off superfluous ideas, 295 hyphens vs., 287, 290, 291–292, 296–297 parentheses vs., 286, 294–295, 302, 304 spacing and, 292–293 word processors and, 291–293 Dates hyphens for ranges, 287, 298 slashes to abbreviate, 289, 314–315 Declarative sentences, 46, 381 Defective verbs. See Modal verbs Definite articles, 10, 381 Degree, of descriptive adjectives, 381 Demonstrative pronouns, 381 list of, 20 modifying adjectives vs., 20 Demonstratives, as determiners, 10 Dependent clauses, 48–67, 381 adjective, 49, 50, 55–62, 210–211, 221–225 adverb, 49, 50–55, 211, 225–229 flag words for, 49, 57, 62–67 noun, 49, 50, 62–67 Descriptive adjectives, 11–12, 382 combining, 12 comparative forms of, 11–12 superlative forms of, 11–12 Determiners, 382. See also Modifiers adjectives as, 10–11, 233 subclasses of, 10–11 Digital communication, 333–353 abbreviations and emoticons, 335, 340–345 capitalization in, 338–339, 351 as misleading term, 334 online submission of résumés and job applications, 337–338 spelling checkers and grammar checkers, 334, 345–351 spelling in, 338–339 textspeak and, 334, 335, 336–345 guidelines for using, 341–342 in hardcopy writing, 339–340 two laws for, 333, 335, 337–338, 340 Direct address, 382 capitalization of personal titles in, 319 as introductory element, 218 Direct objects (DO), 34–35, 36, 37, 382 Direct quotations, 382 block format, 279 brackets with to clarify wording in quoted material, 288, 308 to indicate deletion of objectionable words, 289 to indicate errors, 288, 308–309 to indicate omissions, 288, 309 to insert changes to fit style or sentence structure, 288, 309–310 capitalization and, 276–277, 278, 325 colons to set off, 264, 276, 277 commas to set off, 276, 277 quotation marks with, 274–279 tags with, 277 E-mail. See E-texts (electronic texts); Textspeak E-texts (electronic texts) avoiding textspeak, 334 capitalization in, 351 grammar and spelling checkers for, 334, 345–351 grammatical etiquette for. See Digital communication overdoing and underdoing use of, 334, 351–353 punctuation in, 351, 352–353 Each and every rule, for compound subjects, 138 Economic events, capitalization of, 323 Eggcorns, 347–348, 367–371, 382–383 Electronic writing. See E-texts (electronic texts) Ellipses to indicate omissions from quotations, 288 sparing use in e-texts, 351–352 Em dash/long dash/true dash, 285, 290, 291, 292, 296, 383. See also Dashes Emoji, 345 Emoticons, 334, 335, 341, 344–345 Emphasis brackets with [emphasis added], 310 dashes and, 286, 295–296 parentheses and, 305 quotation marks and, 275 reflexive pronouns and, 163, 167–169 Emphatic dash, 286, 295–296 Emphatic pronouns, 163, 167–169, 383 En dash/short dash, 285, 290, 291, 292–293, 296–297, 383 -Er/-est patterns, 11–12, 55 Essential appositive/appositive phrases, 25–27, 383 Ethnic groups, capitalization of, 320 Events, capitalization of, 323 Exclamation points avoiding overuse in e-texts, 351 with exclamatory sentences, 47 with imperative sentences, 47 parentheses with, 288, 306, 307 quotation marks with, 282–283 on road signs, 248 Exclamatory sentences, 47, 383 Existential sentences, 126, 132–135, 383–384 Fall/fell, 189–191 FANBOYS, 21, 212–213, 384 Faulty parallelism, 327–328, 384. See also Parallelism Fell/fall, 189–191 Finite verbs, 384 First-person pronouns, 17–18, 384 Flag words, 384 for conjunctive adverbs, 68 for dependent clauses, 49, 57, 62–67 fragments and, 116–118 improper use of, 116–118 relative pronouns as, 49, 50 For/of paraphrase test, 252 For/to test for indirect objects, 35 Foreign words capitalizing names of foreign origin, 318 in direct quotations, brackets to clarify, 308 Forms. See Verb forms Fractions hyphens to spell out, 287, 298 slashes to indicate numeral form, 289, 315 Fragments, 113, 114–119, 384–385. See also Sentence(s) avoiding, 115–116, 117, 270–271 correcting, 116–119 grammar checkers and, 348 “I realize” tip for identifying, 114–115 intentional, 118 sentences vs., 45–46, 113, 114–119 Fused participles, 99, 385 Fused sentences, 113–114, 119–122, 385. See also Sentence(s) correcting, 120, 121 period test for, 120 Future perfect tense, 81, 87, 90, 91, 385 Future progressive, 88, 89, 90, 92, 385 Future tense, 73, 74, 75, 81, 90, 385 for irregular verbs, 7 in passive voice, 91 for regular verbs, 7 for simple tense verbs, 81, 83–84, 90, 91 Gender pronoun agreement and, 171–172, 173, 175–176 in pronoun-antecedent agreement, 146 sexist pronouns, 146, 175–176 Generalizations plural forms and, 63 present tense for, 82–83, 85, 181 Genitive case, 251–252 Gerund(s), 96–98, 252, 385 Gerund object of preposition, 97–98, 105 Gerund phrases, 90, 95, 96–99, 386 apostrophes for indicating subjects of, 239, 252–254 as compacted forms of complete sentences, 98–99 it test for, 97–98 as objects of prepositions, 97–98, 105 as objects of verbs, 96, 97 parallelism and, 327, 328–329 possessive pronoun test for subjects of, 253–254 subject of the gerund, 99, 239, 252–254 Government programs, capitalization of, 323 Grammar checkers, 334, 345–351 and cut/paste from e-texts, 350–351 eggcorns and, 347–348, 367–371 Have, apostrophes in contractions with, 246 He or him, 143–144, 147–149 Heads, of phrases, 23, 27, 386. See also Verb heads Helping verbs, 386 contractions with not, 246–247 modals as, 80 in passive voice, 91–93, 349 permissive can, 33 will test for verbs, 7–8 will to indicate future action, 89 Her or she, 143–144, 147–149 Him and whom, 154–155 Him or he, 143–144, 147–149 Historical events, capitalization of, 323 Historical present, 182, 386 Homophones, 346–348, 355–361, 386 Hyphens, 296–302, 386 dashes vs., 287, 290, 291–292, 296–297 functions, 297–299 to attach prefixes or suffixes, 287, 298–299, 304 to create proper nouns and adjectives, 302 to divide words, 299 to indicate range of numbers or dates, 287, 298 to indicate relationships, 298, 301–302 to indicate word with distinct parts, 299 to join parts of compound adjectives, 287, 297, 299–300 to join parts of compound nouns, 287, 298, 300–301 to separate numbers in numeral form, 298 to spell out fractions or numbers, 287, 298 slashes vs., 289, 301, 311, 313–315 sparing use recommended, 287, 299 word processors and, 291–292, 300 I or me, 143–144, 147–149 Imperative sentences, 47, 74, 387 Indefinite articles, 10, 387 Indefinite pronouns, 19–20, 387. See also Pronoun(s) agreement errors and, 170, 172–174, 175 lists of, 19, 20, 173, 174 modifying adjectives vs., 20 Independent clauses, 48–49, 67–70, 387 colons following, 266 conjunctive adverbs to join, 67–70 in fused sentences, 119–122 semicolons with, 68, 70, 258, 259–260 Indirect objects (IO), 34–35, 36, 37, 387 Indirect quotations (paraphrases), 275, 387 of/for paraphrase test, 252 quotation marks and, 274, 277–279 in of test for possessive nouns, 244 that with, 276 Infinitive form, 77, 387. See also Verbal(s) split infinitives, 77 Infinitive object of preposition, 105 Infinitive phrases, 90, 95, 96, 103–109, 388 as adjectives, 106 as adverbs, 106–109 as dangling modifiers, 204, 207 it test for, used as nouns, 104–105 as nouns, 104–105, 106 as objects of prepositions, 105 parallelism and, 327, 328–329, 330 pronoun replacement test for, modifying nouns, 106 subject of the infinitive, 103–104 Intensifiers, 15, 388 Intensive pronouns, 163, 167–169, 388 Interjection(s), 3, 218, 388 Interrogative pronouns, 388 Interrogative sentences, 46, 388 Intransitive verbs, 388–389 transitive/intransitive verb pairs, 180, 189–195 transitive verbs vs., 33–34, 36 Introductory elements, 389 commas and, 42–43, 209–210 dashes to set off, 293–294 moving, 217 types of, 218 Inverted appositives, 24–25, 389 Irony, quotation marks to indicate, 274 Irregular past participles, 78–79 Irregular verbs, 7, 389–390 be, 31, 74–75, 140 past form for, 7, 76–77 past participle form for, 78–79 present form for, 7 with same form in different tenses, 94 as “strong” verbs, 109 Isocolon, 328 It, as pronoun, 160 It is test, 249–250 It test for gerund phrases, 97–98 for infinitive phrases as nouns, 104–105 for noun clauses, 62–63 It’s and its, 238, 248–250 Job applications, 337–338 Laws, capitalization of, 323 Lay or lie, 180, 189, 193–194 Letters (correspondence) colons after salutations, 264 job application, 337–338 Letters of the alphabet capitalized apostrophes with plural, 239, 254–255 hyphens to join to words, 298 omitted, in contractions, 238, 246–250, 339 with parentheses in lists, 305 plural, apostrophes to indicate, 239, 254–255 Lie or lay, 180, 189, 193–194 Line breaks, slashes to indicate, 289, 314 Linguistic groups, capitalization of, 320 Linking verbs, 6, 28–33, 390 as action verbs, 32 complements of, 29–32, 36, 37 compound adjectives following, avoiding hyphens in, 300 types of, 31–32 Lists colons with, 268–270, 285–286, 293–294 dashes to set off, 286, 293–294 parentheses with, 286, 305 semicolons in, 263–264 Lost subjects subject-verb agreement and, 125, 126–132 test for, 128–131 Main clauses. See Independent clauses Main verbs, 390 “The man who wasn’t there” principle of grammar, 204–205 May, as helping verb, 33 Me or I, 143–144, 147–149 Measures, apostrophes in expressions of, 238–239, 251–252 Misplaced modifiers, 197, 198–201, 390–391 adverb qualifiers, 199–200 prepositional phrases, 200–201 Mockery, quotation marks to indicate, 274 Modal verbs, 74, 80–81, 391 future tense and, 83–84 as helping verbs, 80 past tense and, 81, 84 present tense and, 84 and third-person singular, 81 Modifiers, 197–208. See also Determiners of adjectives, 14–15, 50, 54–55. See also Adverb(s) adverb clauses as, 49, 50–55. See also Adverb clause(s) of adverbs, 15, 50, 55. See also Adverb(s) dangling, 197–198, 204–208, 349 misplaced, 197, 198–201 of nouns, 8–10. See also Adjective(s) parallelism and, 331–332 prepositional phrases as, 39–44. See also Prepositional phrases squinting, 197, 198, 202–203 of verbs, 12–14, 50, 51–54. See also Adverb(s) Modifying adjectives demonstrative pronouns vs., 20 indefinite pronouns vs., 20 pair test for, 8–10 More/most patterns, 11–12, 55 Movement test for adverb clauses, 53–54, 65, 68–69 for adverb prepositional phrases, 42–43 for adverbs, 13–14, 42–43, 69–70 for noun clauses, 65 Nearest-noun agreement error, 127, 391 Nonessential appositive/appositive phrases, 25–27, 391 Nonrestrictive adjective clauses, 60–62, 392 Nonrestrictive participial phrases, 102, 392 Not, apostrophes in contractions with, 246–247 Noun(s), 3, 4–6, 392 as antecedents of pronouns, 158–159 as antecedents of reflexive pronouns, 18–19 appositives. See Appositive(s) common. See Common nouns dashes to set of lists of, 286 inferred, 55 infinitive phrases as, 104–105, 106 nearest-noun agreement error, 127 as object complements, 35, 36 possessive, 244 between pronoun and antecedent, 159–160 proper. See Proper nouns as verbs, pronunciation of, 105 Noun clauses, 49, 50, 62–67, 392 it test for, 62–63 that type, 63, 64–65 third-person pronoun test for, 62–63, 64–65 wh- type, 63, 65–67 Noun modifiers, adjectives as, 8–10 Noun phrase object complement, 393 Noun phrases, 23–24, 30, 392–393. See also Gerund phrases as complements of transitive verbs, 34–35, 37 noun clauses as, 62–67 parallelism and, 331–332 prepositional phrases as modifiers of, 40 as pronouns, 25 Number, 393. See also Plural forms; Singular forms are test for plurals, 174 pronoun agreement and, 171–172, 173–174, 175–176 Number(s) apostrophes for, 255 cardinal, 10 hyphens with to attach prefixes to, 287, 298 for ranges, 287, 298 to separate numbers in numeral form, 298 to spell out numerals, 287, 298 ordinal, 10 with parentheses in lists, 305 slashes to abbreviate, 289, 314–315 Number words, as determiners, 10 Object(s), 34–36, 393 direct, 34–35, 36, 37 indirect, 34–35, 36, 37 Object case, 251 Object complements, 35–36, 37, 393–394 Object form, of personal pronouns, 147, 148–149, 150, 248–250 Object of the preposition, 38, 62, 64 gerund phrase as, 97–98, 105 infinitive phrase as, 105 Object of the verb gerund phrases as, 96, 97 infinitive phrases as nouns, 104–105 Of/for paraphrase test, 252 Of test, for possessive nouns, 244 Omissions ellipses to indicate, 288 of letters, in contractions, 238, 246–250, 339 in quotations, brackets to indicate, 288, 309 One and the same rule, for compound subjects, 137 Ongoing states present perfect tense for, 81, 85–86 present tense for, 85 Online communication. See Digital communication; E-texts (electronic texts); Textspeak Or, slashes to stand for, 289, 312 Ordinal numbers, 10, 394 Organization names, capitalization of, 322 Origin/location, adjectives for, 233 “Oxford comma,” 223 Pair test, to modify adjectives, 8–10, 14–15 Parallelism, 327–332, 394 coordinating conjunctions and, 327, 328–329 correlative conjunctions and, 330–331 faulty, 327–328 gerund phrases and, 327, 328–329 infinitive phrases and, 327, 328–329, 330 noun phrases and, 331–332 predicate adjectives and, 330 predicate nominatives and, 330 prepositional phrases and, 331 verb phrases and, 327, 328–329 Parallelism stacks, 328–332 Paraphrases. See Indirect quotations (paraphrases) Parentheses, 302–307, 394 capitalization of direct quotations in, 278 commas vs., 302, 304 dashes vs., 286, 294–295, 302, 304 functions, 287–288, 302–305 to avoid awkward sentence structure, 287, 303–304 to clarify abbreviations, 287, 304–305 to provide extra ideas, 287, 302–303 to set off lists, 286, 305 specialized uses, 305 with other punctuation marks, 288, 306–307 commas, 288, 307 exclamation points, 288, 306, 307 periods, 288, 306, 307 question marks, 288, 306, 307 Parenthetical citations, 305 Parenthetical comments, 287, 295, 302–305, 307 Participial phrases, 95–96, 99–103, 394 as dangling modifiers, 204–208 nonrestrictive, 102 as postnoun modifiers, 127–128 pronoun replacement test for, 101 restrictive, 102 Participles, 99–103, 394. See also Verbal(s) dangling, 102–103 fused, 99 past, 78–79, 99–101 irregular, 78–79 with passive voice, 91–93 with perfect tenses, 81, 84–87 regular, 78 present, 78, 99–101 Parts of speech, 3–22, 394 adjectives, 3, 8–12. See also Adjective(s) adverbs, 3, 12–15. See also Adverb(s) conjunctions, 3, 20–22. See also Conjunctions function in determining, 11 list of, 3 nouns, 3, 4–6. See also Noun(s) prepositions, 3, 22. See also Preposition(s) pronouns, 3, 15–20. See also Pronoun(s) verbs, 3, 6–8. See also Verb(s) Passive voice, of verbs, 91–93, 349, 395 Past form, 76–77, 395 Past participial phrases, 100–102, 395 Past participles, 78–79, 99–10, 395 irregular, 78–79 with passive voice, 91–93 with perfect tenses, 81, 84–87 regular, 78 Past perfect tense, 81, 86–87, 90, 91, 395 for past-time events, 179–180, 184, 187–188 Past progressive, 88–89, 90, 92, 395–396 Past tense, 396 historical present and, 182 for irregular verbs, 7, 76–77 modal verbs, 81, 84 in passive voice, 91 for past-time events, 179–180, 184, 185 for regular verbs, 7, 76–77 for simple tense verbs, 81, 83, 91 tense shifting between present and past, 179, 180–184 time and, 182 Past-time events, choosing tense for, 179–180, 184–189 Perfect tenses, 81, 84–87, 90, 91, 396 future, 81, 87, 90, 91 past. See Past perfect tense present. See Present perfect tense Period(s) in correcting comma splices, 123–124 in correcting fragments, 119 in correcting fused sentences, 120, 121 with declarative sentences, 46 with imperative sentences, 47 with independent clauses, 68, 70 with parentheses, 288, 306, 307 with quotation marks, 274, 280–281 semicolons vs., 259 in textspeak, 339 Personal pronouns, 15–19, 396–397 choosing correct form of, 143–144, 146–156 first-person pronouns, 17–18 list of, 143 object form of, 147, 148–149, 150, 248–250 possessive form of, 147, 248–250