Monday, October 31, 2011

Comma Index

Commas are one of the most used - and abused - punctuation marks in English. I hope these pages can help you better understand the different ways that commas are used in English writing.
Meanwhile, here is some comma humor! :-)

Punctuation Index

Punctuation is one of the biggest problems people have when writing in English. That makes sense, of course - when you speak, you don't have to use punctuation. As a result, you have to learn all the special rules for punctuation; they do not come naturally, the way speaking comes naturally. I hope these pages can help you in mastering the art of English punctuation!
For fun, here is what might happen if we tried to punctuation while we were speaking... or singing!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Conjunctions Index

Conjunctions are words that CONNECT things. They can connect words, phrases, clauses or sentences.
  • Coordinating Conjunctions. These connect two more-or-less equal things. The word "and" is a coordinating conjunction, as in this phrase "apples and oranges."
  • Correlative Conjunctions. These are related pairs of conjunctions that work in tandem. The words "both" and "and" are correlative conjunctions: "I like both apples and oranges."
  • Subordinating Conjunctions. These conjunctions link a dependent clause to the main clause. The word "when" is a subordinating conjunction in this sentence: "Whenever I am hungry, I eat an apple."
  • Conjunctive Adverbs. These adverbial phrases can be used to link two independent clauses: "I like apples; in fact, apples are my favorite fruit."
I learned about conjunctions when I was a little kid from this old "Schoolhouse Rock" video!

A woman without her man is nothing

How would you punctuate this sentence...?

A woman without her man is nothing

Dear John

Dear John,
I want a man
who knows what love is all about.
You are generous, kind, thoughtful.
People who are not like you
admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men.
I yearn for you.
I have no feelings whatsoever
when we're apart.
I can be forever happy --
will you let me be yours?

Dear John,
I want a man
who knows what love is.
All about you
are generous, kind, thoughtful people,
who are not like you.
Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me.
For other men, I yearn.
For you,
I have no feelings whatsoever.
When we're apart,
I can be forever happy.
Will you let me be?


Punctuation Proposal: The Pun-Intended Mark

A Punctuation Proposal: I would like to propose the use of this symbol as the "pun-intended" punctuation mark, which will also be known as the "punint." As you can see, the symbol is symmetrical, with the top and bottom halves of the symbol being the same. This makes it a good symbol to signal the use of a pun, since puns are also based on symmetry or sameness.

A single punint will be placed at the end of a sentence to indicate that a pun was intended in the sentence. So, if you reach the end of the sentence and see the punint mark but neglected to notice the pun, you can go back and read the sentence again, looking for the pun. The absence of a punint will indicate that no pun was intended (see example #7 below).

Two punint marks can be used to wrap around the punning portion of a statement in order to mark it out clearly, as when the pun is especially subtle. This use of the punint will be referred to as the "double-punint" (see example #4 below). To avoid ambiguity, the double-punint should always be used when the main sentence needs to end in a question mark (see example #5). Finally, the double-punint should be used when marking a free-standing word or phrase that is not part of an actual sentence (see example #6).


1. Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses÷
Notes: This is the kind of pun that someone might miss because Santa Claus is spelled with an upper-case C, while subordinate clause is spelled with a lower-case c. Without the punint, people might not get the joke!

2. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana÷
Notes: As you can see, the first sentence here ends in a period because it does not contain a pun. In the second sentence, there is an elegant little pun ("flies" is now a noun and "like" is now a verb), hence the final punint.

3. In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, "You can tune a guitar, but you can't tuna fish÷ Unless, of course, you play bass÷"
Note: Here you see two sentences in a row, each with a pun and each ending in a punint mark.

4. Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this ÷son÷ of York.
Note: Shakespeare's plays are full of puns, as you can see here where Richard III plays with the English words "son" and "sun." Since this is a rather subtle pun, it is best to mark it with a double punint.

5. I would like to go to Holland someday. ÷Wooden shoe÷?
Note: Although this is not an especially subtle pun, the double-punint is needed in order to end the punning sentence with a question mark.

6. ÷Aladdin Sane÷
Note: This illustrates the use of a double-punint in a free-standing phrase, the title of David Bowie's 1973 record album.

7. The deli is sandwiched between a laundromat and an insurance office.
Note: The absence of the punint shows that there really is no pun intended here. So, if you perceived a pun, you need to put that thought out of your mind as quickly as possible.

ADOPT THE PUNINT NOW: It's the ÷write÷ thing to do!

A New Punctuation Mark

For this assignment, you will write a blog post about a new punctuation mark that you have invented. To get an idea of how this assignment works, read through this sample assignment: The Pun-Intended Mark.

Here are the elements your blog post should contain:

Symbol: Choose your punctuation mark from the list of available symbols below. There is a large image which you can save (drag-and-drop to your desktop or right-mouse click and save) and then publish in your blog post. There is also a normal-sized version of the symbol which you can copy-and-paste to use in writing your blog post.

Name: Your new punctuation mark needs a name.

Usage: You need to explain how to use the new punctuation mark. There are basically four different approaches you can take here:
  • Your punctuation mark could be a variation on an already existing punctuation mark, so you would explain its usage based on how it is similar to but also different from that already existing punctuation mark.
  • Your punctuation mark could be used to reflect some aspect of human speech, a tonal quality that is conveyed in speech which we need to be able to convey in writing.
  • Your punctuation mark could be used to indicate a specific rhetorical or stylistic feature in the text.
  • Your punctuation mark could be used to replace some other kind of typographical convention, replacing that typographical convention with a punctuation sign.
As you explain the way(s) in which your punctuation mark will be used, you should also explain how both the name and the symbol you have chosen are related to its usage.

Advantages. Please make clear just what advantage(s) can be gained by the use of this punctuation mark. Are there any disadvantages you can foresee in the adoption of this new punctuation mark?

Examples. You need to provide at least FIVE sentences which demonstrate the usage of your punctuation mark. For each example, include at least one sentence where you explain how the punctuation mark contributes to the meaning of the sentence.

AVAILABLE SYMBOLS. Below you will find a list of available symbols to choose from:

image: symbol: ¤
image: symbol: ¢
image: symbol: ^
image: symbol: ÷
image: symbol: §
image: symbol:
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image: symbol:
image: symbol:
image: symbol:
image: symbol:
image: symbol:
image: symbol:
image: symbol:
image: symbol:
image: symbol:
image: symbol:
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