Q. What is the Oxford comma?
A. The Oxford (or serial) comma is a comma before “and” in a list of things
Q. Should I use the Oxford comma?
A. Technically the Oxford comma is neither right nor wrong, but some say it clutters the copy. Although, it does have its uses for clarity:
Q. When do I put a comma before “and” in a sentence?
A. When connecting two independent clauses
Q. Oh crud. I forgot what independent clauses are. How can I tell if I have two?
A. Independent clauses are parts of a sentence that can stand alone. A good rule of thumb I use is if you introduce a second subject in the second half of the sentence, you use a comma before “and.”
Fun fact! The Oxford comma was first introduced as rule in the 1905 edition of the Oxford University Press Style Guide, which is how it got the nickname. It is sometimes also called the Harvard comma since the Harvard press adheres to it as well.
Q. What are quotation marks?
A. Quotation marks are double inverted commas used to offset a quotation or spotlight a word in a sentence
Q, How do I punctuate using quotation marks?
A. Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks.
Exclamation points and question marks go inside the quotation marks depending on whether or not they apply to the quoted portion.
Q. What are sneer quotes?
A. Sneer quotes are used to offset a word ironically—often with a sarcastic intention
Fun fact: Inch marks are straight quotation marks. However, curly quotes (“ ” as opposed to " ") created in some fonts, are not inch marks
Q. What is a hyphen?
A. Hyphens are used to divide or to compound words, word elements, or numbers
Q. When do I use a hyphen to combine two words?
A. Use a hyphen to combine two words when modifying a noun
Q. Do I use a hyphen before a prefix?
A. Generally not, although the rule varies from word to word. When in doubt, visit m-w.com and look up the prefix (pre-, under-, etc.). Often you can find the correct usage of the word you are looking for in the word list under the prefix entry
Q. What’s the difference between a hyphen and a dash?
A. There are three types of dashes:
Final fact: One never uses spaces on either sides of a dash.
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