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Quotation Marks, Punctuation, and Cheez-Its

By: Miss Marm

I'm drinking the revitalize flavor of Vitamin Water Zero, and it is perfectly hideous. It tastes like green tea and Sweet and Low. Grrrrrrross.

And now, with no transition at all, let's move on to a question from a Sparkler:

In the Writing for Sparklife FAQ the following pet peeve raised some questions about the relationship between quotation marks and punctuation:

Keep that punctuation inside the quotes, people. We know you do it differently in other parts of the world, like Mars, but this is how we roll here in SparkTown, USA.

Does this simply mean that Sparkitors prefer "I read an amazing Sparklife post!" to "I read an amazing Sparklife post"! or does it refer to quotations within a sentence?

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Could[n't] Care Less

By: Miss Marm

It's 101 degrees in New York today. Perhaps a plunge into the icy waters of grammar will cool us down! Here's a great email from sligers118:

This isn't exactly having my grammar corrected in an essay, but I just had a small question I was wondering if you'd maybe like to clarify for me. I'm not sure it even counts as grammar but... it's been niggling at me for a while, and I'd love a definitive answer.

So, I'm English and I'm not usually bothered by differences between English and American colloquialisms, but I've seen this in quite a few books and movies and it just doesn't seem to make sense. I'm talking about the distinction between "couldn't care less" and "could care less." To me, it seems like this:

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Burgers and Ambiguous Pronoun Usage

By: Miss Marm

Why do we care about grammar? Not because we're tight-lipped, red-pen-wielding, fun-policing bananaheads (although we totally are). And not because grammar posts give us a lame excuse to post stock photos of male models (well, kind of because of that).

We care about grammar because when people break the rules, confusion results. Just as good manners are about making other people feel comfortable, good grammar is about making readers feel oriented.

And it's annoying to feel disoriented just when you're trying to crush your friend, as this Sparkler

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A Really Hot Guy Named Clark (And Restrictive Clauses)

By: Miss Marm

In terms of thrills and chills, restrictive commas are right up there with toe lint. To make this post more fun, let's pretend the Clark in question is 6'2", muscly, and brooding.

Josieiz writes:

I have a quick grammar question.
Which one is correct?

My brother Clark went to the store to buy some oranges.

Or...

My brother, Clark, went to the store to buy some oranges.

I am just not sure if you are suppose to separate "Clark" from the sentence by commas or if "brother" is just describing "Clark."
I suppose I am mostly confused because you can take "Clark" out and it still makes sense.
Thanks!

Here's the short answer: both sentences are grammatically

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Running On and On, Grammatically

By: Miss Marm

I've gotten lots of emails recently from Sparklers bemoaning their own run-on sentences. When I read the supposedly offensive sentences, however, they turn out to be plain old long. Sparklers, really long sentences aren't necessarily run-ons. Henry James writes sentences that go on for pages, literally, yet the man never wrote a run-on in his

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Categories: the rules | run-ons

What Is Satire, Anyway?

By: Miss Marm

A Sparkler writes:

I have a major essay to do regarding satire in Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Do you think you could explain satire? I'm not sure how to tackle this (and I have been working on it for sometime!) and would appreciate some guidance. Does satire have to do with characters? plot? something else entirely? HELP!

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Confuzzled About Thesis Placement

By: Miss Marm

Writing a thesis is like wrapping a present: challenging, confusing, and involving way more tape than you thought you'd need. (In this metaphor, tape = thinking. Obviously.)

And even once you've got your thesis nailed down, further problems await. For example: where's the goshdarn thing supposed to GO?

A Sparkler

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Categories: teachers | theses | the rules

Hey, You: Explain Colon Usage

By: Miss Marm

Colons do several things. They're a highly useful little marks of punctuation.

Colons indicate that you're about to elaborate.
Rachel's plan was simple: camp out for as long as it

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Rogue Semicolons

By: Miss Marm

Today, I got two emails that overlapped perfectly with each other.

The first:

I really need help with semi colons, colons, and commas. Sometimes when I get a question I believe its supposed to be a semicolon but it turns out to be colon.

The

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Quick Guide to Possessives

By: Miss Marm

Today, I got a question about possessives. Hooray! I love grammar questions! And not only that, but I now have the opportunity to quote at length from my very own book. ("I'm so vain, I probably think this possessives question is about me, I'm so vaaaaaainnn.....") Here now is the relevant excerpt from Ultimate Style:

For most words, simply add an apostrophe and s.

- The men's locker room is dirtier than the

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