July 25, 2016
Paris Is a PlaceTOPICS: COPY EDITING, GRAMMAR, SENTENCE WRITING
When you write a sentence like "Paris is a place that gets many tourists," you've squandered your main clause on a statement that's already comically obvious: Paris is a place. Here's how to get the most out of every main clause.
Click player above to listen to the podcast
Hyphen ... InterruptedPosted by June on July 25, 2016
LABELS: COPY EDITING, GRAMMAR, hyphens, PUNCTUATION
My friend Tracy had a question about hyphens in the following passage:
... patients receiving a lenalidomide (Revlimid) or bortezomib (Velcade) based treatment ...
Where, she wanted to know, do the hyphens go? Under normal circumstances, you'd hyphenate a compound modifier with "based." A carbon-based life form. A faith-based initiative.
In a sentence where two compounds "share" a word, you'd hyphenate like this: a carbon- or silicon-based life form. This is called suspensive hyphenation, where the hyphen attached to "carbon" is just sort of hanging there to clue the reader that it attaches to a word that comes later.
But in these sentence, the parentheticals mess everything up.
lenalidomide- (Revlimid) or bortezomib- (Velcade) based?
lenalidomide (Revlimid)- or bortezomib (Velcade)-based?
If both look awful to you, I agree. The rule books never get this specific. They never say what to do in oddball situations. But they do say that most hyphens are optional, to be used only when they actually help. So, as I told Tracy, I'd leave that passage just as she found it.
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
The Best Punctuation Book, Period
A Comprehensive Guide for Every Writer, Editor, Student, and Businessperson
The most comprehensive punctuation guide ever, “The Best Punctuation Book, Period” doesn’t just cover the basic rules. It delves into gray areas of punctuation left unclear by the other rule books, showing how the rules differ in four different editing styles. There's also an A to Z reference of commonly mispunctuated terms. more
Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies
A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite
What do suicidal pandas, doped-up rock stars, and a naked Pamela Anderson have in common? They’re all a heck of a lot more interesting than reading about predicate nominatives and hyphens. June Casagrande knows this and has invented a whole new twist on the grammar book. more
Mortal Syntax takes on the 101 most frequently attacked usage choices. Dedicating one short chapter to each, Casagrande brings her subject to life, teaching English usage through lively and amusing personal anecdotes. more
It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences
Your story may be brilliant. Your insights may be groundbreaking. Your characters may be so real you can almost touch them. But they're not worth a thing if you can't bring them to life in well-written sentences. more