Oxford Comma: Yes or No? A Compilation of Opinions and Recommendations

Oxford Comma: Yes or No? A Compilation of Opinions and Recommendations

First things first: what is the Oxford comma? Also called serial comma, it is a comma placed after the penultimate item in a list and before the conjunction “and” or “or.” Here’s a sample sentence without the Oxford comma: We traveled to China, Thailand and Japan. And here is the same sentence with the Oxford comma: We traveled to China, Thailand, and Japan. The Oxford comma is the one after “Thailand.” There is a hot debate around its use because…

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A Guide to Terminal Punctuation

A Guide to Terminal Punctuation

This post outlines the functions of punctuation marks employed at the end of a sentence: the period, the exclamation point, the question mark, and ellipses. Period Periods are employed as terminal punctuation for statements other than questions or exclamations. In American English, periods precede a close quotation mark at the end of a sentence (with some technical exceptions in such fields as botany, linguistics, and philosophy). Periods also follow numbers and letters that precede each item in a vertical list….

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Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

This post lists and defines words derived from the Latin verb sentire, meaning “feel” or “perceive.” The direct descendant of sentire is sense, which means “be or become conscious of” or “comprehend” or “detect.” As a noun, the word has a more extensive set of definitions—it can pertain to awareness; intelligence; conveyed or intended meaning; and the faculty or function of perceiving through sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. (The word also pertains, less directly, to the capacity to appreciate…

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A Guide to Nouns

A Guide to Nouns

A noun was traditionally described as “a person, place, or thing,” but some definitions further specify what can constitute a thing, including an action, an idea, a quality, or a state of existence. This post discusses types of nouns and other issues related to nouns. Classes of NounsAbstract and Concrete Nouns Abstract nouns are those that refer to concepts or ideas, such as justice or evolution. By contrast, concrete nouns represent physical entities that can be observed by one or…

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Names of Plants, Food, and Drinks Formed by Folk Etymology

Names of Plants, Food, and Drinks Formed by Folk Etymology

This post lists words for plants, food, and drinks, as well as some terms associated with drinks, derived from words in other languages as a result of folk etymology, a process by which speakers adopt the foreign terms after revising them by using existing elements from their native language. artichoke: The name of the vegetable stems ultimately from the Arabic word al-khurshūf by way of the Spanish term alcarchofa and the Italian term arcicioffo (rendered articiocco in an Italian dialect),…

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A Guide to Vertical Lists

A Guide to Vertical Lists

A recent post described how to organize and format in-line lists, those that occur within a sentence. This one explains the proper use of vertical lists, which are organized by setting the items on the list (following an introductory phrase or sentence), apart from each other, distinguished by numbers, letters, or other symbols, on consecutive lines. Vertical lists are best employed in place of in-line lists when the list is long and/or the items consist of longer phrases or even…

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Cars and Carriages

Cars and Carriages

Car and carriage, and many other words containing the element car, derive from the Latin word carrus, meaning “two-wheeled wagon.” This post lists and defines many of the words descended from carrus. A car is a passenger vehicle designed to be driven on roads; autocar and motorcar are outdated terms used in the early days of automotive travel to describe cars so as not to have them be confused with train cars and streetcars, which were dominant modes of travel…

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A Guide to Internal Punctuation

A Guide to Internal Punctuation

This post outlines the functions of punctuation marks employed within a sentence: the comma, the semicolon, the colon, and ellipses. Comma A comma performs a number of functions, including setting off elements of a list (“I’m going to order soup, salad, and an entrée”) combining with a conjunction to separate two independent clauses (“She ordered dinner, but she declined the dessert menu”) separating a preceding dependent clause from the main clause (“Depending on the size of the entrée, I might…

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10 Ways to Render Sentences More Concise

10 Ways to Render Sentences More Concise

This post details various strategies for reducing and simplifying sentences. 1. Sentence Combination Avoid consecutive sentences that end and begin, respectively, with the same word or phrase as occurs here: A common way to track the current state of systems is monitoring performance metrics. Performance metrics show how assets are performing at the transaction level. In such cases, replace the period between them with a comma and delete the second iteration of the word or phrase with which: “A common…

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A Guide to Abbreviations

A Guide to Abbreviations

Abbreviations are a sometimes necessary evil, but with the power to employ them comes great responsibility. This post outlines types of abbreviations and associated guidelines. An abbreviation is a shortening of a word or phrase, either by truncation or by abridgement by way of using only the first letter of each word of the term in turn (though sometimes more than the first letter is included, and occasionally, in the interest of creating an easily pronounceable abbreviation, one or more…

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