As a writer I am always at odds with the English language, between starting a sentence with a conjunction, for purely rebellious reasons, and using ellipsis and exclamation marks more often than is humanly appropriate, I should be locked up for crimes against the English language. Over the past few months however, my attitude towards grammar has changed, especially when it comes to punctuations; a comma is not just a comma, it gives a sentence a whole new meaning, and in some instances, saves lives; “let’s eat grandpa vs let’s eat, grandpa.”
When is it appropriate to use the semi-colon, and what does it even mean? And can someone, anyone, break down the, who/whom argument because I am still not clear on that.
My go to grammar guru is @NYCeditor on twitter, she is who I call on when I have a pernickety grammatical issue. Over the course of our several twitter tutorials, she has given me invaluable guidelines and tools that have altered the way I read and write.
The Comma; Whilst at school (that better be the correct usage of whilst), I remember my english teacher telling me not to use a comma before and, especially when listing items because the and denotes the list has come to an end, and there would be no need for it. (I say I heard, chances are, I wasn’t listening because I was that kid in class who always had to argue with my teacher because I thought I knew best… the amount of times I was sent to the principal’s office for disrupting my language class…) (on a side note she was I mean about ellipsis?) Anyway, back to the comma, for some reason, this lesson stuck with me a while, hard that, considering how disruptive I was in class. However, in my writing over the years, I’ve found myself questioning this rule amongst others. The comma indicates a slight pause in parts of a sentence for various reasons, it could be in lists, to separate phrases or to make something resonate before moving on. @NYCeditor makes it even simpler with her rule of comma thumb;
F.A.N.B.O.Y.S; For/And/Nor/But/Yet/So. commas can, and should be, used before these words. Always.
Its just that simple and it reads better.
The other problem I had for @NYCeditor was the tense”had had” from had, the past tense of have.
This is a past perfect tense and refers to a time in the past when an action was completed and resolved.
“He had had this conversation weeks prior”
In this case, weeks prior, this conversion was resolved, and therefore would not continue or did not continue after that time.
There you have it, grammar lesson for the day, here’s to better English.