Especially when you are helping her move in the wee small hours of the morning.
Welcome home M and C. We are so glad you are here and safe.
That's all for me. Hope you are having a great day.
This is a nice short lesson, so let's get right into it.
Brackets and Parentheses
There are actually two forms - used for slightly different purposes.
A parentheses is the curvy thing looks like this ( ). We use parentheses in the following situations:
1. To enclose additional information or explanations and examples. Many of you will notice that you could also use a set of commas. Parentheses are sometimes helpful when the explanation will be long, or when the sentence looks confusing with even more commas.
Mrs. Spit (the celebrated knitter) could teach you to knit lace.
Mrs. Spit knit a beautiful shawl for Cathy (her midwife).
2.To cite chapter and verse, especially in legislation, reports, contracts or court decisions, and to annotate lists in documents.
Section 22, paragraph 12, clause g is often abbreviated 22.12(g)
3. To enclose a number that is repeating a spelled-out number. This is often used in business documents, or when you want to be really clear that yes, Mr. Spit should buy five (yes, 5) pounds of butter.
That wool will cost sixty-five dollars ($65).
We will need to order thirty-five (35) skeins of wool for this project.
4. To enclose a question mark, when you are not sure of the truth of a number or date. (1). This is not an excuse to not check your facts. But, when you are not sure if information is correct, it's worth noting it.
I think Mr. Spit was born on October 21(?), 1972(2)
Brackets - perhaps it would be most helpful to think of brackets [ ] as an editorial device. Consider the following uses:
1. To insert missing text or vital information into a quote. This is where you have had to make alterations to a quote to make it fit a sentence, or where you have had to omit a significant amount of text and are truncating. It always bears repeating that you should not use square brackets to alter the intent of the quote, and when you see them in a sentence, you should be curious about what was omitted. (3)
"Wow", the Yarn Harlot said. "[You're] an amazing knitter."
2. To let your reader know that you have added italics for emphasis in a quote.
Mrs. Spit responded "My husband is a wonderful, kind, loving and fun man. Don't you dare talk about him that way. I shall claw your eyeballs out." [bold mine]
3. To let your reader know that a mistake in the quoted material is not yours.(4)
"She always did insist that her husband waz onlee 32" [sic]
1. An ellipsis shows that you have left words out of a sentence or quoted material. When the material we are leaving out starts the sentence, we don't use an ellipsis. We also don't use an ellipsis when the quoted material left out is a complete sentence.
"Mrs. Spit . . . an amazing knitter, is likely to knit all sorts of things."
2. An ellipsis shows that you have 'trailed off' in a sentence. It's a stylistic tool that invites the reader to fill in the blank or draw their own conclusion.
"Knitting relaxes me. I should probably do more of it . . . "
1. We use dashes to emphasize an aside in a sentence. (5)
Mrs. Spit - the celebrated knitter - is knitting a shawl.
2. We use dashes to emphasize explanations, examples, and definitions.
I am going to see Mr. Spit - my husband - for dinner tonight.
3. To emphasize a contrast in a sentence.
Mrs. Spit, who is very organized - looked very disheveled.
4. Use a dash to show hesitant or broken-off speech.
Umm - ah - well, I stuttered. I'm not sure how I spent that much in the wool store.
Write a sentence with a set of brackets or parentheses, an ellipsis and a dash.
(1) We do not use a question mark in parenthesis when we aren't sure of the spelling. We go and get a dictionary and look the word up, if we aren't sure of its spelling.
(2) Errm, this is less of a joke than you might think. I have a hard time remembering Mr. Spit's birthday. I write it down each year.(3) Especially when viewing quotes from politicians!
(4) I must confess, that when quoting those who annoy me, I take great delight in going through all their material, and sticking [sic] in wherever I can.
(5) Grammar Geek Speak - this is called an appositive. Remember those from the comma lesson? The one I called the non-essential comma?
I'd say she looks pretty good. Glowing, but pretty good.
A comma is a humble mark, but oh, so important. Upon its misplacement, Lynn Truss wrote an entire book, and spurred a grammatical revolution. Don't believe me? Consider the following joke:
A panda walks into a bar. She orders a beer and wings, drinks the beer, eats the wings, draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
"Why?" asks the confused bartender, as the panda makes her way towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over her shoulder.
"I'm a panda", she says. "Look it up".
The bartender turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
"Panda. Large black and white bear like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."(1)
Important places to put the comma:
Between And, Or, But, For, Not, Yet. (2)
A co-ordinating conjunction can link two independent clauses to create a compound sentence.
Mrs.Spit was ominously quiet, so her knitting was not going well.
After an introductory phrase or an interjection.
Mrs. Spit, please stop talking.
To satisfy a craving for ice cream, Mrs. Spit drove to Marble Slab.
To separate 3 or more items in a series, or in a list.
Mrs. Spit adores: wool, cashmere, alpaca, silk and mercerized cotton.
Some people would punctuate this sentence as ". . . silk, and mercerized cotton". This is called an Oxford comma, and is not common in North America. It's not incorrect, but not commonly done. Mrs. Spit tends to believe that unless you were actually educated at Oxford, you shouldn't do this.
To separate adjectives in a sentence
Mr. Spit thinks Mrs. Spit is lovely, wonderful and a great cook.
In order to legitimately separate adjectives, the adjectives need to operate independently(4). This means that you can place a co-ordinating conjunction between them, move their order around or remove one, and the sentence will still make sense. In the above example I could have written lovely and wonderful and a great cook, I could move their order around, or even remove one, and the sentence would still work. Try it for yourself.
To Set Off a Non-Essential Element in a sentence
You use a comma if you are putting a bit of information in a sentence, but this information doesn't change the meaning of the sentence. You could take it out, and no one would notice. It's like a conversational aside. Place the comma's on either side of the non-essential element, to set it off.
Mrs. Spit, a celebrated hostess, is a great knitter.
To Set off Quoted Material
Use a comma to help your reader pause before reading quoted material.(5)
"Wherefore art Mrs. Spit", cried Mr. Spit.
In Dates, Numbers, Addresses
Between the month and year
In large numbers
Between the city and the province. You get the picture.
The General, All Purpose Comma
This is sort of an odd-duck. Sometimes sentences just don't make sense. I would urge you to re-write the sentence, try to break it up, make sure that you haven't misplaced or dangled your modifiers, that sort of thing. But, sometimes there is just nothing to do but throw a few commas in.(6)
Yep, you saw it coming. Put comma's in the following paragraph.
"What" cried Mr. Spit. "You bought more wool. How could you? You have mounds great piles mountains of the stuff." I smugly thought to myself I have lots more knitting to do essential knitting that must be done. Knitting for babies for husbands for winners of Whinge-For-All Thursdays. Amazing knitting that everyone will treasure!
(1) The panda says No! You'll get it if you read the book.
(2) Geeky Grammar Speak - before a co-ordinating conjunction that links independent clauses
(3) Troyka's book on Grammar (Out of print, sorry) helpfully comes up with this term to help writers avoid panda-sized fatalities.
(4) More Geeky Grammar Speak - these are technically called co-ordinate adjectives.
(5) I think this is the dumbest rule. That's why we have quotation marks. So, you know, we know that someone else is speaking. Alas, I am not the final arbitrator of comma use. But when I rule the world . . .
(6) No, I can't give you an example. I *always* write well!
Don't got much to say.
A few "also's":