Commas, Subject-Relative Pronoun Agreement and More
Posted by June on June 20, 2016
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Some questions that made it into my recent column touch on serial commas, where to put commas and periods relative to quotation marks, and whether "Betty is one of those people who like(s) cupcakes" takes the plural or singular verb. All those answers and more here.

Sometimes Danglers Are a Problem
Posted by June on June 13, 2016
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Recently, the Los Angeles Times described the movie "Dheepan" as the "Palme d'Or winner about Sri Lankan refugees trying to escape their violent past in France." That made reader Rod do a double-take.

"The question is where the 'in France' should go," Rod wrote. "There's a serious difference between a violent past in France and being in France trying to escape a violent past, presumably in Sri Lanka."

Agreed. Here's my full take on the sentence and the problem therein: the dreaded dangling modifier.

A Quick Hyphen Refresher (as opposed to a quick-hyphen refresher)
Posted by June on June 6, 2016
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For compound adjectives and adverbs you make up yourself, use a hyphen anytime it aids readability or comprehension: a lobster-eating man.

Adverbs ending in ly are the exception. These don't take a hyphen: a happily married couple.

For compound adjectives that already exist, check the dictionary's hyphenation: good-looking.

For nouns, check a dictionary: self-esteem.

For verbs, check a dictionary: fact-check.

Note that it's often the case that the verb form is open while the noun is closed or hyphenated: Five traits make up his personality makeup. On Tuesday, I have to pick up Tom's pick-up from the dealership.

Note that the reigning aesthetic in publishing today leans toward less punctuation, so compounds adjectives that could logically take a hyphen usually don't unless the hyphen is needed.

Some Words You May Not Know as Well as You Think You Do
Posted by June on May 30, 2016
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Peruse. Forgo. Enormity. Rein.

If you think you know everything there is to know about these words, maybe you do. But maybe you don't. Here's a roundup of 10 sometimes misused, sometimes misunderstood words that deserve a closer look.