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15

In this excerpt from Raymond Chandler's Red Wind, I suspect you may have been misled by what looks like a hyphen, but I think is actually an ineptly formatted dash. I have used curly brackets below to group together what I consider to be the components of the sense units of the sentence in question: {His eyes moved} {in short stabs} — {sick eyes}. ...


9

There are very few really hard-and-fast rules when it comes to commas in English. However, commas are there for a reason: to aid the reader in parsing the sentences he is currently reading by splitting them up into logical chunks that give hints as to what belongs together with what, and where the sentence would be broken up with pauses in speech. This ...


7

Speaking as a copy editor, I can assure you that Copyeditorism is a polytheistic faith. On the one hand, I see where The Copyeditor's Handbook is coming from. Its idea is that if you were to include the implied unit of measure after the first number, you wouldn't want to punctuate it this way: ten-minute to fifteen-minute traffic delays because the ...


5

Written English is governed by the principle "Anything which can be misunderstood will be". There is thus no practical difference between a syntactical ambiguity and a semantic one: even if the ambiguity is resolvable with only a little effort, some readers will fail to make the effort and will either misunderstand your meaning or dismiss you as an idiot. ...


4

You have mistranscribed this, or drawn from a mistranscribed source. The original has a dash, not a hyphen. His eyes moved in short stabs—sick eyes. The basic clause is His eyes moved in short stabs. That is, the direction of his glance moved abruptly from one object to another, as if 'stabbing' the objects viewed. Sick eyes is added to this ...


4

She's not running for class president because she is scared Punctuation alone will not make your second sentence (quoted above) clear and unambiguous. If you want to say that she's running, but not because she's scared (implying another reason), better to relocate not She's running for class president, but not because she's scared.


4

Like many institutions in the UK, the BBC has published its entire style guide online. The style guide is massive and detailed and is the result of hundreds of combined years of writing and editorial experience. Like other major style guides, we can assume that each rule is well-considered, and since all style guides change, we know that rules are often ...


4

Yes, "the question is" at the beginning is some sort of introduction which has no effect on the following question. But if you take away the comma, now the rest has to count as a part of a larger construction, which is not a question: "The question is where we get the money to pay for it." Grammatically, this declares what the question is, rather than ...


3

A comma is usually used between adjectives that are parallel, that is, modify the same head in a noun phrase. This usage is essentially just a listing comma: you put commas before all entries in a list (including or excepting the final one that also has an and, depending on whether you like the Oxford comma or not). Example: A small, red, wooden(,) and ...


3

Because you are addressing the subject ('sir') directly, you use a comma. "Happy Birthday, sir!" is correct. In the second question, you can simply add sir to the end and separate it with a comma: "Congratulations for completing another trip around the sun, sir!" As for whether the exclamation point is necessary, that depends entirely on one's ...


3

The "rules" of commas are perhaps the vaguest in language, and many of them more guidelines than "rules" even in the minds of those most fond of enforcing rules. And those about whether or not to have them between two clauses the vaguest of the lot. That caveat said, you have perhaps the opposite case. Here you have an adverbial clause when it is complete. ...


3

'Soon-to-be ex-wife' is the optimal format. You have two distinct components: the compound adjective soon-to-be and the noun it describes, ex-wife. The hyphens tie together the individual elements in each of these. 'Soon-to-be-ex-wife' is unsuitable because it is confusing: the inclusion of a hyphen after be would improperly erase the distinction between ...


3

Personally, I view quotation marks as marks that surround a quotation. As such, anything that isn't part of the quotation shouldn't be within the marks. In other words, if I'm quoting @medica's comment directly, I would say, "I don't see that particular style of punctuation (AmE)." The period remains inside the quotation marks because the quote itself has a ...


2

I see no reason to repeat "million". a $5-to-$10-million-a-year business or, with fewer hyphens: a $5-to-$10 million a year business


2

As neither variant is confusing, I'd use either, depending on whether I thought a pause sounded natural / desirable. I often go swimming, and I love fishing, clay-pigeon shooting, and bird-spotting. I often go dancing. Occasionally, I play football with my friends. but I do get a reasonable amount of exercise. Occasionally I play football ...


2

A general rule is that a comma should be used if the two modifiers both modify the noun, rather than the first one modifying the noun-phrase formed by the second modifier and the noun. A heavy, bulky box. A lovely hand-made toy. Heavy applies to box about as much as bulky does. Lovely applies to "hand-made toy". Three guides can help decide if ...


2

All of the following are found in use: Italics (I'm not suggesting it, I'm mentioning it as a case that is found in use, and I'm aiming at completeness): I dos; whereass or whereases. Underlined, though only used when italics aren't available (e.g. with typewriters) to represent that italics should be used. (Can't give example in markdown, because markdown ...


2

It would be unusual to put a comma there. The comma before the and would be usual; the common practice being that when there are two independent clauses separated by a coördinating conjunction (like and) you put a comma before the conjunction. You could defend the comma after and by arguing that that "in the interest of fairness" was parenthetical, if it ...


2

She is going to that party? I won't be there, then. This means I will not be at the party, because she's going (and I have no wish to meet her). This then is part of an if, then construction, where the if is suppressed: if she's going, then I am not going. She is going to the party? I won't be there then. This means that I will not be present at ...


2

In spite of obvious close-vote candidacy, I'll answer here because there's an interesting complication. This is that 'inform' can be used as a quotative verb as well as a strict reporting verb. We were informed: 'A complete set of dishes consists of these items – cups, saucers and plates; bowls are not included.' [I had to choose where I preferred ...


2

In practice, joint-venture agreement is a familiar enough term that even if no hyphen is used, anyone reading about such an agreement is unlikely to be in any doubt about the writer's intention. Logically, however, the hyphen is needed. Without the hyphen, the format of the expression gives no indication that 'joint venture' is an adjectival phrase. A naive ...


2

Generally speaking there's little difference between British and American use of dashes, at least as compared to hyphens. The use of a hyphen character (or technically hyphen-minus) made sense in legacy (pre-unicode) systems as the dashes weren't always available and were encoded at different code points in different systems. That hasn't been a good excuse ...


2

The question is: where do we get the money to pay for it?


2

Does Larry Trask give reasons for his rule? Why should we believe it? Why is it even worth discussing? In the examples, there is a change in intonation before the quoted material that is similar to the intonational change we use commas or other special punctuation for, elsewhere. Compare the pronunciation of Joe said this and Joe said "this". They sound ...


1

By adding a comma, the "then" relates to the condition in the first part of the sentence. On the other hand - if there's no comma, then this whole sentence doesn't make much sense because the "then" would relate to an exact point in time when Joe would not be there. The comma version suits better.


1

All of them are technically defensible, though if I was to go with the first I'd favour either a semicolon after Danielle for the sake of internal consistency, or else no comma after that word. The third is perhaps the least defensible because, as you say, it's considered proper by many to always use commas with non-restrictive apposition. But this is not ...


1

Comma "rules" are tricky. Most are best thought of as guidelines than rules. Setting of introductory elements is indeed something that most sets of such rules would say you need a comma, so "by the rules" the form with the comma is the correct one. Conversely, if the occasionally was only the start of an introductory phrase then the same rule would have ...


1

This 2011 'Slate' article suggests that the US is indeed gravitating towards 'logical punctuation' as pertains to unofficial publications. Official styles such as MLA and Chicago, on the other hand, do not seem to be changing.


1

According to The Chicago Manual of Style (13.41), Thought, imagined dialogue, and other interior discourse may be enclosed in quotation marks or not, according to the context or the writer’s preference. (How unprescriptivist, especially for CMOS!) Here, dropping the quotes signals that it's an example of 'thought / imagined dialogue / other ...


1

It's similar to a direct quote: She said, "Does anyone support this legislation?" But they're not quoting a person directly--they're just stating the question verbatim. Perhaps reading a card or off a monitor. Below that is an example of an indirect question. The question was whether anyone supported the legislation. That could be a summary of ...



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