By Jess from Du Wax Loolu
I’ve worked as an editor for four years now. Usually, this is irrelevant to life, but every now and then it makes me very useful. This is one of those times. So, let’s talk grammar!
The most important thing when writing or editing a document is consistency. Many stylistic choices are just that—choices. Different style guides conflict on some basic things. So don’t worry too much about whether the Chicago Manual of Style agrees with your stylistic choice (just make sure that we’re talking about something that’s a choice and not something that’s a rule).
So, about those rules. Let’s start with quotes.
* If the punctuation doesn’t change the meaning or tone of the quote, such as a period or a comma, then it goes inside the quotation marks.
* If it would change the meaning or the tone, such as a question mark, an exclamation point, or a semicolon, it goes outside the quotation marks.
* Any punctuation that is actually part of the quote stays inside the quotation marks.
Next: hyphens! This is an area where many people have trouble.
* Verbs that are modified by prepositions normally do not take hyphens. For example, I will follow up with my boss about a request that she made.
* However, if we’re discussing the noun or adjective form, the two words do take a hyphen. So I’d have a follow-up meeting with my boss, or schedule a time for a follow-up.
Last: age! Punctuation here can be challenging.
* Amanda’s daughter is one year old. It’s a state of being and does not take hyphens.
* She is a one-year-old. It’s a noun, so it takes the hyphen.
* Amanda has a one-year-old daughter. It’s an adjective modifying a noun, so again, it takes the hyphen.
Now, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to grammar and punctuation. But I can tell you that if you can master these few rules, you are well on your way to a document that most editors would love to review.
Are there any grammar tips you’d like to share, or grammar flaws that drive you crazy?
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