Archives: punctuation

Costly commas

September 8, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: grammar, journalism.

God save the Queen! God, save the Queen! The presence or absence of punctuation — particularly the ubiquitous comma — can change the meaning of a sentence. And it can have massive consequences. This BBC website article,  Pocket: The commas that cost companies millions,  tells about how the absence of a comma in a contract cost • Read More »

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A ‘day’ becomes a ‘date’; Poe’s rules for detective fiction; a little bit of Henry Fowler

December 11, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, newsletter, Private eye.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,140) on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Hi,  Last week’s question: Were there no Americans before 1776? An answer came in from newsletter reader and good friend Jane P: There were many Americans long before 1776, in the numerous Native American societies and groups across what became the • Read More »

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MC 102 Lecture 02: Grammar and style

May 28, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

For media writers — people who make their living in this profession, however, the rules of grammar, spelling, punctuation and style are essential. Knowing those rules and being able to apply them consciously to your writing is the mark of a professional. What you don’t know about these things, you should try to learn as quickly as possible.

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Answers: Commas 02

May 20, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: exercises, teaching journalism.

Commas exercise 02 1. The girl stared at him with a sad, longing look in her eyes. When two equal adjectives appear before a noun, they should be separated by a comma. In this case, the adjectives “sad” and “longing” modify the noun “look.” Because there is no conjunction, such as “and,” they should be • Read More »

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Exercise: Commas 02

May 20, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: exercises, teaching journalism.

Name This exercise consists of 10 sentences. Re-type each sentence inserting commas in the correct locations. Print this out when you have finished or follow the directions of your instructor in completing this exercise. A link appears at the end of the sentences that gives an explanation for each sentence. 1. The girl stared at • Read More »

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Answers: Commas 01

May 20, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: exercises.

1. Abraham Lincoln was elected to his second term in 1864, but he did not serve out his full term. This is a compound sentence – a sentence with two independent clauses. They should be connected with a conjunction, and the comma should come before the conjunction. In this case, the conjunction is “but. 2. • Read More »

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Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation and Diction study guide

May 13, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: editing.

When I taught at the University of Alabama, I would give a 100-question grammar, spelling, punctuation and diction exam to beginning writing students. The test was a difficult one, but students had to make at least a 75 on the exam to pass the beginning writing course offered by the College of Communication and Information Sciences. That exam is not available on this web site, but the study guide developed for it is. This is an excellent primer on the basic grammar and spelling rules and concepts that a student should know.

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