March 18, 2019

Appositives

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If you don't know what an appositive is, you should. An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that sits right next to another and restates it, like "a CPA" in, "My boss, a CPA, is a stickler for accuracy." And once you understand that, it makes certain punctuation and sentence structure decisions a lot easier.

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How to Use a Colon: The Basics
Posted by June on March 18, 2019
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The colon has a couple of different jobs, all of which can be explained in these broad terms: A colon introduces something. Sometimes, the idea is just to tell the reader, “Here you go. Here’s that thing or things I wanted to tell you about.” But to master their use, you need a deeper understanding of the basics plus a few advanced insights. For example, in Associated Press Style, you use a lowercase letter after a colon unless the stuff that follows is a complete sentence. But in Chicago style, you use a lowercase letter after a colon unless the stuff that follows is two or more complete sentences.

Another fine point about colons that a lot of people miss: Don't use one after the word "including" or to introduce objects of a verb. That is, in "Bruce likes apples, oranges and pears," no colon follows the word "likes." And though that's pretty clear in a short sentence like this, longer sentences make this fact harder to keep a grasp on. Here's my recent column covering everything you need to know about colons.

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

    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."

  • A Not-So-Thrilling Typo

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

  • A Not-So-Thrilling Typo

    JR "An" Not-So-Thrilling Typo?