Quick and Dirty Grammar Points for the New Semester

Classes at St. Catherine University begin September 7th.

To all my wonderful students (#m2350 etc), here is a quick and dirty list of grammar points that I expect you to know AND apply in ALL your written work for me:  texts, emails, blog entries, Tweets, and papers.

  • Remember this distinction: “e.g.” means “exempli gratia” (“example given,” “for example”); and “i.e.” means “id est” (“that is,” “in other words”).
  • Do not use spaces before or after hyphens (e.g., non-spaced hyphenation).
  • Put a comma after the penultimate (2nd to last) thing being listed in a series, just before the “and”: Me, Myself, and I will thank you for that.
  • Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks: “You’ll see what I mean,” said Professor Sara. The student said, “Yes, I will.”
  • Question marks and exclamation points go outside the quotation marks when they are not part of the material being quoted. Do you understand what I meant by, “You’ll see what I mean”?
  • Colons and semicolons that aren’t part of a quotation always go outside the quotation marks.
  • Avoid exclamation points!
  • “Okay” is okay. “OK” is not okay.
  • Avoid unnecessary, superfluous, needless, redundant, space-wasting adjectives.
  • Avoid, where possible, the words “very” and “that.”
  • Employ strong verbs.
  • Avoid clichés like the plague (e.g., “avoid like the plague,” “the long and the short of it,” “fit to be tied” and “to make a long story short”).
  • Avoid jargon and unnecessary technical terms.
  • Avoid writing in the passive voice. For example, “Catherine was pushed out of the way by Kate” is not as good as, “Kate shoved Catherine out of the way.” (Always look before you cross the street).


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