Tag Archives: writing tips

Putin’s Cult of Commas

We’ve been struggling with some commas here lately. So, I have enlisted the help of a certain shirtless Russian to put together some top ‘commandments to commas’ as a refresher — and to keep you in line.

1. Commas separate the elements in a series of three or more things.
a. Both the American and Russian flags are red, white and blue. As you may recall from previous grammar posts, the decision to add the comma before “and” is preferential. Its name is the Oxford comma and I personally hate it. I will judge you so hard if you use it.

2. Commas should be inserted after the following conjunctions when connecting two independent clauses: and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so.

Putin in a bubble
Putin pic courtesy of CNN.

a. It’s freezing outside, but I didn’t wear a heavy jacket since I’m in a bubble of my own device. An independent clause means that it can stand alone as its own sentence, even if the two were separated.

3. Use them after an introductory element.
a. While fly fishing shirtless, it never bothers me how arrogant I look.

4. Use them to set off parenthetical elements.
a. The Next Generation Cat Food Supply Summit, your industry’s top event, will never be held in Sochi because I am a dog lover.

Shirtless Putin
Putin pic courtesy of CNN.

5. Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives.
a. Only beautiful, successful, shirtless delegates will be permitted to attend the upcoming Cosmetics Compliance event.

6. Typographical Reasons
a. The event is in St. Petersburg, Russia.
b. Vlad last spoke at the summit held September 4, 2013.

Rule of thumb.

A somewhat general rule of them is to consider where you would take a breath or pause when reading copy in your head. That’s where the comma should find itself.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Had Better Grammar Tips

Does anyone even know the definition of an infinitive? It’s one of the most basic forms of a verb “to be, to have, to hold” are some examples. When a verb is accompanied by the “to” they are always supposed to be written together. Oftentimes, we separate the “to” from its verb friend “have” in a way that is incorrect. But, as the degradation of the English continues, this probably won’t be an issue in the future.

Examples:

I have to gently hold the baby. (the infinitive is being split by “gently” and is not correct)

I have to hold the baby gently. (this is correct)

Side note: This isn’t an issue in many foreign languages, such as French, Spanish, etc.,  because they use one word to express the infinitive.

French: Aller (to go)

Spanish: Hablar (to speak)

Here are two more common errors:

Woulda, coulda, shoulda

Most people incorrectly pronounce these as “would of, could of, should of.” Blame Southerners.

Correct: Could have, should have, would have

If I could have seen my mom last night, I would have requested her famous pasta dish for dinner. I should have created a shopping list for her.

Who vs. That

This is simple, but is often written and spoken incorrectly. A way of remembering when to use “who” vs. “that” is to associate who with people and that with nonliving things

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