October 23, 2017

A Myriad of Misunderstandings

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Is myriad an adjective, as in There are myriad benefits to this plan? Or is it a noun, as in, There are a myriad of benefits to this plan?

Short answer: It's both. But a lot of people, possibly even some in present company, have fallen victim to the myth that it can't be a noun.

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When Commas Work in Pairs
Posted by June on October 23, 2017
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A reminder: sometimes commas work in pairs. When you drop the second one, you end up with bad punctuation logic:

The city of Pasadena, California has a playhouse and many museums.

Here we're separating Pasadena from California, but we're not separating California from the verb "has." The result is a sentence that says California has these things while that bit about the Pasadena has no logical attachment to the sentence. The idea is that commas can set off what's called parenthetical information. When you're talking about a city, the state it's in is parenthetical to the city name.

You can see the same logic at work with terms like "Inc." as well as years after dates.

Widgets, Inc., is based in Toronto.

On April 4, 2017, we attended a concert.

Without the second comma, you'd be giving the wrong impression about the relationship between Inc. and the words that follow or between 2017 and the words that follow. So keep an eye out for this one. It's a very common mistake.

June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more

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    June A.S.: Everything you said is right, but I'm not sure which comment you're directing it at. Are you getting confused by passive voice as it comes into play in these sentences? "I called him" uses the object pronoun "him" because, as you said, is an object. When you invert that sentence to say "He was called," it's not the same sentence structure. In passive voice, the object of the action (so to speak) is made the grammatical subject of the sentence. So "He was called" does, as you said, required the subject pronoun "he." I don't believe anyone said anything to the contrary.

  • 'Whom' vs. 'Who' at the Beginning of a Sentence

    A.S. WRONG! If "Whom was called into the office" is a question then it's the equivalent of asking "Him was called into the office?" which is obviously wrong. If it's a statement it's still wrong. Look, it's not difficult: Me, him, her, them and whom are objects. I, he, she, they and who are subjects. If the person in the sample sentence is the object (as indicated by "whom") then the office must be the subject but there's no verb for the subject, so the person must be the subject and is therefore who. Understand?

  • E-mail vs. Email

    June Punctuation rules for American English are indeed "always" put the period or comma before the closing quote mark. British style is as you described (that is, it follows a certain logic). But American rules are rooted in a printing convention that originated from aesthetics concerns. I'm quite confident that this American convention will go the way of the dinosaur. Wikipedia is proof: Their style is situational in the way you described. But for now, it's the rule: The comma always goes "inside," as does a "period."

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    June Oops. Fixing now. (Better late than never.)

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    JR "An" Not-So-Thrilling Typo?