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SeeEmilywrite
09-23-2006, 03:32 PM
Sorry, wrong thread.

SeeEmilywrite
09-23-2006, 03:35 PM
I have always have a problem with the correct usage of commas, and apparently in recent months have developed a horrific problem with apostrophes.

Can someone tell when you would use an apostrophe in a sentence/where it goes? I feel like I should and do know this, I have just had some sort of permanent brain fart.

alleycat
09-23-2006, 03:41 PM
You might want to read some of the OWLS (Online Writing Lessons), or other online grammar guides first, and then post any questions you might have. There are a number of these online; this is one, but you can find others just by searching for "grammar":

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/cnt_punc.asp

I have several books on grammar but one of the handiest is Esssential English Grammar. It cost about $6.

SeeEmilywrite
09-23-2006, 04:12 PM
Thanks!

Bufty
09-23-2006, 06:16 PM
Hope you read the suggested link and books, SeeEmily.

Overuse of commas can make a sentence very hard to read, so if in doubt leave them out or reword/shorten your sentences so that they make sense.

A comma basically says - if you don't take a little breath here, the sentence will sound odd.


Thanks!

newmod
09-23-2006, 06:43 PM
Apostrophes are used for:

1) Missing letters/contractions e.g. can´t (cannot)

2) Apostrophes before or after the possessive -s ending of nouns e.g. the girl´s father, Charles´s wife, Socrates´ ideas

Possessive determiners and pronouns do not have apostrophes e.g. Has the cat had its food yet? or This is yours

3) Special plurals

(a) words that don´t normally have plurals sometimes have a plural form when written as a plural e.g. It´s a nice idea, but there are lots of if´s

(b)Often used in pluralisation of letters and numbers e.g. b´s and d´s It was in the 1960´s (or 1960s) and I know two MP´s (or MPs)

It´s incorrect to use an apostrophe in a normal plural e.g. jeans

Hope that helped

boron
09-07-2009, 08:49 PM
Is there any type or form of text where using apostrophes would be inappropriate from any reason? A booklet with technical instructions or a scientific medical article...?

Ultrasound. Why it's (it is) used?
This man can't (cannot, can not) walk.
He's had (has had) fever for a week.
Patient's laboratory results has not changed.

Do apostrophes make (health) articles hard to read?

ideagirl
09-08-2009, 01:18 AM
Is there any type or form of text where using apostrophes would be inapropriate from any reason? A booklet with technical instructions or a scientific medical article...?

1. Ultrasound. Why it's (it is) used?
2. This man can't (cannot, can not) walk.
3. He's had (has had) fever for a week.
4. Patient's laboratory results has not changed.

Do apostrophes make (health) articles hard to read?

Your first three sentences are contractions: the 's represents a word (is, has) or part of a word (cannot>can't, the ' represents the -no-). Google "using contractions in writing" or something like that to read up on the rules; contractions in written language are very casual. Sometimes you see them used in writing where the writer wants to sound accessible and friendly. You would definitely not see them in medical journals, and you usually do not see them in business writing--you see them where the writer wants to adopt a casual, accessible tone. So, knowing that, it's up to you whether to use them or not in what you're writing; I have no way of knowing what tone you want to use.

Note, by the way, that your first sentence shouldn't end in a question mark. If you want that to be a question, you have to say "is it" rather than "it is" ("why is it used"). And that, of course, means you can't use a contraction there.

Your fourth sentence is completely different; there's no contraction there. No word or part of a word is missing; the apostrophe isn't replacing anything. Here, the 's represents the possessive. Google "use of the possessive form" or something if you want to learn more about that. Also, note that you need to say "the patient's"; you can't just say "patient's" here. And since laboratory results are plural, you have to say "have not changed," not "has not changed."

boron
09-08-2009, 01:35 PM
Sometimes you see them used in writing where the writer wants to sound accessible and friendly.

Yes, it's about being accessible...



Note, by the way, that your first sentence shouldn't end in a question mark. If you want that to be a question, you have to say "is it" rather than "it is" ("why is it used"). And that, of course, means you can't use a contraction there.

I actually found this in Google: Why it's done (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22why+it%27s+done%22&start=0&sa=N) . It's mainly used in titles, so there's no question marks. But can I write it as in above link - it is - and without question mark?

Ken Hoss
09-10-2009, 07:18 AM
You might want to read some of the OWLS (Online Writing Lessons), or other online grammar guides first, and then post any questions you might have. There are a number of these online; this is one, but you can find others just by searching for "grammar":

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/cnt_punc.asp

I have several books on grammar but one of the handiest is Esssential English Grammar. It cost about $6.


Thanks! Good references!

Argh! Too many rules, my head is going to explode!

(Is that proper usage of a comma?)

girlyswot
09-10-2009, 01:09 PM
A comma basically says - if you don't take a little breath here, the sentence will sound odd.

Um, no. (Yes, I said that without any breath between the words.;))

Commas are not guides for reading aloud (though a proper understanding of their function is certainly essential for good reading aloud, as is true of all punctuation). They have several important syntactical functions, such as separating certain kinds of clause and phrase, items in a list, multiple adjectives modifying the same noun, direct speech and quotations from the main narrative, and so on. In some of these instances you would certainly want to pause briefly, but not always. Even more problems are caused by simply sticking commas into written prose wherever you think you might pause while speaking. Written English is not supposed to be a precisely coded representation of the spoken word and thinking of it this way leads to all kinds of errors.

Fallen
09-10-2009, 01:18 PM
Is there any type or form of text where using apostrophes would be inappropriate from any reason?

Copora study shows you're least likely to find contractions (Your 'don't', 'won't' etc) in medical and academic discuorse. But I hate the term 'It's because contractions are informal uasge and it's imporper to use them in science and medical journals'. It's nothing to do with that. Full form (Will not, cannot) simply allows you to play better with tone and tonicity to get your point across:

You won't go out
v
you will NOT go out tonight

Although, you'll probably find objective science/medical papers don't use these kind of heavy obligatory modals (will, must etc) because they show heavy author-stance (not good if you're trying to be objective), They'd opt for the less obligatory (may, might, shall etc). Even then, though, any modals offer an insight into author-stance in science/medical discourse...

And I'm babbling a bit...:D

Maryn
09-10-2009, 04:44 PM
Argh! Too many rules, my head is going to explode!

(Is that proper usage of a comma?)Afraid not. That's a comma splice, the joining of two complete sentences with a comma when sentence-ending punctuation would have been correct. To further add to any confusion, the first sentence has an understood subject-verb (There are) which is absent, making it harder to recognize as a sentence.

We havin' fun yet?

Maryn, glad she doesn't have to learn this stuff because it's not easy

boron
09-10-2009, 05:29 PM
Too many rules, my head is going to explode!


Afraid not. That's a comma splice, the joining of two complete sentences with a comma when sentence-ending punctuation would have been correct.

Too many rules so my head is going to explode!

Comma before "so" or not?

jjacobs
09-10-2009, 05:50 PM
Though there are exceptions, there are seven fundamental rules for when to use a comma. None of them are tricky; the problem is people don't stick to these rules.

1. To separate items in a list
2. To connect two independent clauses (an independent clause is a group of words with a subject,verb, and direct object)
3. To attach a dependent clause to the beginning of an independent clause (a dependent clause is a group of words that does not include a subject, verb, and direct object--read the first sentence of my post for an example)
4. To separate two adjectives
5. To show a change of direction in a sentence
6. To separate states from countries, names from titles, and dates when written in full
7. To separate a quote from its introduction or explanation

I hope this helps.

Chase
09-10-2009, 06:26 PM
Too many rules so my head is going to explode!

Comma befor "so" or not?

Yes, a comma follows the first independent clause (see jjacob's second rule above) whenever the two independent clauses are separated by one of the seven coordinating conjunctions: and, or, nor, but, for, yet, so.

boron
09-10-2009, 07:47 PM
Though there are exceptions, there are seven fundamental rules for when to use a comma. None of them are tricky; the problem is people don't stick to these rules.

1. To separate items in a list
2. To connect two independent clauses (an independent clause is a group of words with a subject,verb, and direct object)
3. To attach a dependent clause to the beginning of an independent clause (a dependent clause is a group of words that does not include a subject, verb, and direct object--read the first sentence of my post for an example)
4. To separate two adjectives
5. To show a change of direction in a sentence
6. To separate states from countries, names from titles, and dates when written in full
7. To separate a quote from its introduction or explanation

I hope this helps.

1. Here's one big, red apple. Comma, yes?
2. Two independent clauses (example?) are not the same as two independent sentences, right?

Chase
09-10-2009, 08:47 PM
1. Here's one big, red apple. Comma, yes?
2. Two independent clauses (example?) are not the same as two independent sentences, right?

1. Yes.
2. This excerpt has been posted here in AW a few times. I hope you find some of the examples useful. Examples you asked for are listed in item 1:

From "Commas for U.S. Publications"

Noah Webster set forth five easy rules for necessary commas. A very few comma uses are optional. The vast majority of the remainder are superfluous Ė excessive, pointless, unnecessary.

1. A comma is necessary to separate a compound structure, two or more main clauses joined by one of the seven coordinating conjunctions: and, or, nor, but, for, yet, so.

The woman drank black coffee, and she ate a croissant.

You can conduct yourself in a pleasant manner, or you can be horrible.

Evan loves Susanne, but he cannot forget Elena.

If the writer chooses to make those constructions into simple sentences, then the comma is not used:

The woman drank black coffee and ate a croissant.

You can conduct yourself in a pleasant manner or be horrible.

Evan loves Susanne but cannot forget Elena.

2. A comma is necessary to separate a long introductory element before a main clause. The rule holds true for both simple and complex constructions.

Even though ignorant of our culture, we must always be kind to strangers. (Simple)

Since Constance is new to our company, all of us should strive to help her. (Complex)

It is always correct to set off any introductory element with a comma, but custom has made the practice optional for shorter elements. Either is acceptable:

Later, you can join us for dessert. Later you can join us for dessert.

3. Commas separate items in a series:

James found blondes attractive, redheads adorable, and brunettes irresistible.

The final comma before the conjunction is always correct. However, the journalistic practice which came about due to briefer construction (and to save on the cost of lead when linotypes were used) is a viable option:

James found blondes attractive, redheads adorable and brunettes irresistible.

Also correct is: James found blondes attractive, redheads adorable, brunettes irresistible.


4. Interjections and forms of address are set off with commas.

Yes, I will accompany you to the ball. No, I wonít!

You, sir, are out of line. You may be assured, maíam, of our concern.

Are you certain of that prognosis, Doctor?

Thank you, Mother, for all you do.

Thereís a world of difference in "Letís eat, Grandma" and "Letís eat Grandma."

5. Appositives are words, phrases, or clauses of explanation or further identification. They must be set off with commas fore and aft. The rule includes the state following the name of a city and the year following the day of the month.

Mrs. Ellen Bennet, my mother, is in the drawing room.

The Brooklyn Bridge, as opposed to this matchstick construction, is sturdy and reliable.

He was born on June 23, 1941, near Big Timber, Montana, along the Yellowstone River.

5A. The final necessary use of the comma is the most difficult for many writers. Itís actually the same as rule 5, but itís often presented in isolation because of its difficulty. As with appositives, it separates nonrestrictive clauses in a sentence. The nonrestrictive clause is not essential to the sentence. It merely adds information:

Abraham Lincoln, who was the tallest of U.S. presidents, was an imposing figure of a man.

The grizzly, a bear misunderstood by tourists, is named Ursus horribilis for good reason.

By contrast, a restrictive clause is essential to the sentence:

The lady who cried is my mother.

The man who shot Liberty Valance became a state senator.

MMcQuown
09-11-2009, 05:08 PM
I have had fights with people over some of these since about 1976, when it seems the whole plural/possessive thing got messed up. Apparently, Somebody Out There was very authoritatively telling it wrong.

boron
09-11-2009, 07:24 PM
OK, a bit more testing:

Values are always expressed in mm Hg regardless of measuring instrument used.

Above, an independent clause is followed by a dependent clause, correct? I feel an urge to put a comma before regardless, but I can't find a rule to do so.

Regardless of measuring instrument used, values are always expressed in mm Hg.

Above, there is a dependent clause,(?) followed by an independent clause, so comma, right?

Chase
09-11-2009, 08:43 PM
Values are always expressed in mm Hg regardless of measuring instrument used.

Regardless of measuring instrument used, values are always expressed in mm Hg.

There is only one clause in each sentence above. It is "values are always expressed in mm Hg." To be an independent clause means it can stand by itelf as a complete sentence. The rest of each sentence above is a phrase, a fragment.

The first sentence has the fragment phrase after the independent clause, so the comma is optional. Do as you please.

The second sentence has the fragment phrase as a long introductory element, so the comma is necessary (rule 2).

Edit: Rightly so, it was pointed out that my link of the optional comma to rule 5 is confusing. As usual, Bufty is spot on. Since the comma is optional, it's not specifically covered in rules for necessary commas.

boron
09-11-2009, 11:12 PM
What about this:

Blood pressure 120/80 is often considered as (an?) ideal for an adult because it was found out that it is an average blood pressure among healthy adult people.

Because is not one of those 7 "anboys" coordinating conjunctions, so - no comma?

Also, should I put an before ideal, since ideal belongs to the noun blood pressure? Comma before since in the last sentence?

Bufty
09-11-2009, 11:28 PM
That's a pretty long-winded way of getting information across if all you are trying to say is - .

Blood pressure of 120/80 is considered ideal for a healthy adult.


What about this:

Blood pressure 120/80 is often considered as (an?) ideal for an adult because it was found out that it is an average blood pressure among healthy adult people.

Because is not one of those 7 "anboys" coordinating conjunctions, so - no comma?

Also, should I put an before ideal, since ideal belongs to the noun blood pressure? Comma before since in the last sentence?

boron
09-12-2009, 10:35 AM
Blood pressure 120/80 is often considered as (an?) ideal for an adult because (since) it was found out that it is an average blood pressure among healthy adult people.


That's a pretty long-winded way of getting information across if all you are trying to say is - .

Blood pressure of 120/80 is considered ideal for a healthy adult.

I'm trying to explain where the idea to use ideal came from. I think I'll use since instead of because. I gave above example to ask about using comma before because (or since) in above case.

bkwriter
10-01-2009, 09:14 AM
the grammer link isn't working.

boron
10-01-2009, 12:19 PM
the grammer link isn't working.

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp

Other rules (periods, semicolons...):
http://www.grammarbook.com/english_rules.asp

MMcQuown
10-02-2009, 11:34 AM
Ken Hoss -- King stole that quote on your post from Robert Bloch. Bloch had used that line a number of times at conventions at a time when King was still figuring out how to put on his pants.

boron
10-02-2009, 10:51 PM
The heart is a muscular organ that pumps the blood through the vessels thus supplying the body cells with oxygen and nutrients.

Can I leave it without a comma? Or should be one before thus?
I consider the part "that pumps the blood through the vessels" as a restrictive clause.

PeterL
10-02-2009, 11:40 PM
The heart is a muscular organ that pumps the blood through the vessels thus supplying the body cells with oxygen and nutrients.

Can I leave it without a comma? Or should be one before thus?
I consider the part "that pumps the blood through the vessels" as a restrictive clause.

There should be a comma there. You could drop the "thus".

boron
11-14-2009, 01:50 PM
I've copied below sentences from one set of comma rules:

1. She said quietly, "I love you." (comma before quotation)
2. I said "wash," not "drawer." (Commas always go inside quotation marks in American English usage).

I find the 2nd rule quite weird.

PeterL
11-14-2009, 07:15 PM
I've copied below sentences from one set of comma rules:

1. She said quietly, "I love you." (comma before quotation)
2. I said "wash," not "drawer." (Commas always go inside quotation marks in American English usage).

I find the 2nd rule quite weird.

The second one is wrong. Commas go inside quotation marks, unless the quotation marks are to set of something as special.
2. I said "wash", not "drawer". The title of a short story would be treated similarly.

m00bah
11-25-2009, 01:08 PM
I'm also new to all this and trying to get my head around commas. On this site http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp rule 9 and 10 confuse me. What is the difference between a weak clause and a phrase of more than three words? Thanks.

Rule 9. When starting a sentence with a weak clause, use a comma after it. Conversely, do not use a comma when the sentence starts with a strong clause followed by a weak clause.

Examples: If you are not sure about this, let me know now.
Let me know now if you are not sure about this.


Rule 10. Use a comma after phrases of more than three words that begin a sentence. If the phrase has fewer than three words, the comma is optional.

Examples: To apply for this job, you must have previous experience.
On February 14 many couples give each other
candy or flowers.

OR

On February 14, many couples give each other candy or flowers.

veronie
11-26-2009, 01:50 AM
She defines a "strong clause" as one that can stand on its own. Look here (http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/pronoun.asp) at Rule 4.

Of "weak clauses," she says: "A weak clause begins with words such as although, since, if, when, and because. Weak clauses cannot stand on their own."

I'm not sure how many other people use that terminology. I think she's simply talking about independent and dependent clauses.

As far as your question on Rule 10, It's a little bit of the writer's preference. If your sentence begins with an intro clause, then you'd separate it with a comma. But if it is very short, you can leave out the comma.

Chase
11-26-2009, 02:53 AM
I've copied below sentences from one set of comma rules:

1. She said quietly, "I love you." (comma before quotation)
2. I said "wash," not "drawer." (Commas always go inside quotation marks in American English usage).

I find the 2nd rule quite weird.

It's not weird; it's merely different from British usage. If you write for US publication, get used to it.



The second one is wrong. Commas go inside quotation marks, unless the quotation marks are to set of something as special.
2. I said "wash", not "drawer". The title of a short story would be treated similarly.

Nah. In US academic writing and for US publications, commas (and periods) always go to left (inside) end quotes when they appear together.

veronie
11-26-2009, 03:44 AM
The second one is wrong. Commas go inside quotation marks, unless the quotation marks are to set of something as special.
2. I said "wash", not "drawer". The title of a short story would be treated similarly.


Look at that lonely little period hanging out by himself on the end. Poor guy. He needs to be wrapped up tight in the love of the quotation marks.

boron
11-26-2009, 11:25 AM
Look at that lonely little period hanging out by himself on the end. Poor guy. He needs to be wrapped up tight in the love of the quotation marks.

Veronie, would you mind to go in that grammarbook 21 comma rules and personalize them? "Poor weak clause, he can't stand alone, so he needs a comma, like a stick, in his right hand..." Most of us would remember them for ever then. :D

m00bah
11-29-2009, 04:29 AM
Can anyone please explain to me why this sentence does NOT have a comma before the 'but'? Surely this would be two independent clauses joined by the 'but' and therefore need a comma? The only thing I think I'm missing is something to do with compound objects or verbs but I'm having difficulty spotting these subtleties.

"Harry tried to argue back but his words were drowned by a long, loud belch from the Dursleys' son, Dudley."

Thanks.

Chase
11-29-2009, 05:30 AM
"Harry tried to argue back but his words were drowned by a long, loud belch from the Dursleys' son, Dudley."


A comma after "back" is quite correct. In my humble opinion, to omit it is a stylistic quirk.

MMcQuown
11-29-2009, 05:22 PM
I agree with Chase; the comma should be there. The fault may lie with the copyeditor who missed it. Or, the fault may lie with the copyeditor, who missed it.

veronie
11-30-2009, 12:46 AM
Technically, there should be a comma there. But, as Chase said, it could be a stylistic quirk -- the writer may have wanted the sentence to read faster, and the comma may have introduced an unwanted pause in the flow.

boron
12-04-2009, 04:01 PM
I have a problem with understanding apostrophes here:

It is sometimes doctor advice, and sometimes doctor's advice.
It is baby stool or baby's stool.
It is usually Crohn's disease or Baker's cyst but sometimes Crohn disease and Baker cyst. (The usual form is with apostrophe - so not a problem for me).
It is almost always women's health, or children's health, but couldn't it be also women and children health?

Is all this a question of usage or there is a theoretical explanation behind this?

MMcQuown
12-05-2009, 01:27 PM
In the first two instances, it could be the difference between the general and the specific:
a baby stool would imply a stool for a baby, but making it possessive might suggest a specific baby. "It is a baby stool." but "It is the baby's stool." Same goes for "Doctor advice."
In the case of the diseases, always possessive; same for health. "Women health" and "children health", no.

m00bah
12-20-2009, 04:12 PM
"I find my father standing on the sidelines, watching Yoga Tuesday happen in the function room."

and

"I knew some parts of the act were fake -- his fiddlehead mustache, for example, and the quarter with two heads -- but I was one hundred percent sure that his magic wand had the ability to transport me into some limbo zone, until he saw fit to call me back."

What comma use rule pertains to the final comma in each of the above sentences? In my eyes, the first sentence should not have a comma as it is an independent clause followed by a dependent clause.

If we break down the second sentence, it can be seen that "I was one hundred percent sure that his magic wand had the ability to transport me into some limbo zone, until he saw fit to call me back." is again an independent clause followed by a dependent clause. However, is this sentence slightly different to the first sentence? I ask this because it would appear that "... until he saw fit to call me back." might have a comma before it to show emphasis on this final part of the sentence.

I have only attempted to learn and understand grammar recently, so I am still having difficulty picking out the difference between certain types of comma use(,) despite having studied the rules religiously! Again, should there be a comma in the previous sentence? I do not want to place a comma where it should not belong.

How do you decide if it is an appropriate place to add a comma for emphasis near the end of a sentence, but how do you also ensure you are not placing one where it is simply a dependent clause following an independent clause?

MMcQuown
12-21-2009, 04:06 PM
"I find my father standing on the sidelines, watching Yoga Tuesday happen in the function room."

and

"I knew some parts of the act were fake -- his fiddlehead mustache, for example, and the quarter with two heads -- but I was one hundred percent sure that his magic wand had the ability to transport me into some limbo zone, until he saw fit to call me back."

What comma use rule pertains to the final comma in each of the above sentences? In my eyes, the first sentence should not have a comma as it is an independent clause followed by a dependent clause.

If we break down the second sentence, it can be seen that "I was one hundred percent sure that his magic wand had the ability to transport me into some limbo zone, until he saw fit to call me back." is again an independent clause followed by a dependent clause. However, is this sentence slightly different to the first sentence? I ask this because it would appear that "... until he saw fit to call me back." might have a comma before it to show emphasis on this final part of the sentence.

I have only attempted to learn and understand grammar recently, so I am still having difficulty picking out the difference between certain types of comma use(,) despite having studied the rules religiously! Again, should there be a comma in the previous sentence? I do not want to place a comma where it should not belong.

How do you decide if it is an appropriate place to add a comma for emphasis near the end of a sentence, but how do you also ensure you are not placing one where it is simply a dependent clause following an independent clause?
Practically, it reads just as well without the comma. The comma might provide emphasis, and is I were reading aloud, I might want to take a breath there. For emphasis, I might use the dash, but as far as I can tell, the comma is not necessary.

boron
03-03-2010, 04:10 PM
It is not possible to reliably say, if someone is smoking marijuana or cigarettes on the basis of the smoker's mucus color.

Is it smoker's mucus, smoker's mucus's or smoker mucus's? I can rewrite the sentence, but I want to know a rule...

PeterL
03-03-2010, 05:52 PM
It is not possible to reliably say, if someone is smoking marijuana or cigarettes on the basis of the smoker's mucus color.

Is it smoker's mucus, smoker's mucus's or smoker mucus's? I can rewrite the sentence, but I want to know a rule...

It is "smoker's mucus".