Category Archives: Punctuation

You had one job…

I have always hankered for a job where I can sell my words. I think I’m pretty good with words when I want to be. I surround myself with exquisite, delicate, evocative and earthy words on a daily basis. 

So, when I buy a birthday card, a card for which someone has been paid for the quality of their words, it pains me to see this. 

 Edit   I can accept the sequence of fragments as a stylistic pastiche. But the circled comma splices annoys me, especially the second one. They detract from the changes in tone; they lose rhythm and pace; they are just wrong. 

But it is got worse! Turning to the inside of the card, I saw this!


A sentence begun with a lower case letter? A grocer’s apostrophe! From a professional writer! Which was paid for!

I hang my head in shame. 


All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

To really touch something, she is learning – the bark of a sycamore tree in the gardens; a pinned stag in the Department of Etymology; the exquisitely polished interior of a scallop shell in Dr. Geffard’s workshop – is to love it. 

Who or whom?

The excessive length of this rather cumbersome sentence from Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, which begins 5 lines before the section photographed, is awkward…

But am I having a brain freeze moment here?

My brain balks at the clumsiness of the whom in the following sentence.


I kind of know it is right and can probably conjure up an explanation which is likely to use phrases like

it is an objective relative pronoun introducing a relative clause in which Ricky is the object of the verb phrase “surprised to see” which would naturally attract the personal pronoun him if re-written as “I was surprised to see him lingering near the punch bowl”.

But it still feels awkward.

As I say, possibly a minor inherent awkwardness exacerbated by an excessively long sentence.

Editors, where was your red pencil?

Language and Grammar Jokes

My favourite language joke of all time goes as follows:

Three intransitive verbs walked into a bar. They sat. They drank. They left.


If you ever want a tumbleweed moment, deliver that to a classroom of teenagers!

However, here are a few more, shamelessly stolen from around the interweb… Thank you Grammarly, in particular.















Have a wonderful 2015!