Hitting the Mark: Punctuating “because” and “however”

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Where to use commas and semicolons can be challenging. Here are two situations that cause considerable head scratching. Let’s first remember that punctuation marks are intended to guide readers so that they correctly understand your sentence, and so they read it easily, without stumbling. You have flexibility; nothing in the history of punctuation says there… Read more »

Punctuation Puzzler: When to Use a Dash

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Dashes are not a one-size-fits-all answer each time you need to pause. People frequently use dashes interchangeably with the comma: Anytime they want to pause, they just toss in dashes without realizing that the nature of the information dictates whether a dash is appropriate. The comma represents a routine pause; the dash does not. You can occasionally… Read more »

Use Helping Verbs Only When Verbs Need help

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Helping verbs are often necessary, but remove those that are not required to express a tense (time). Write with strong verbs, a valuable piece of wisdom for centuries, doesn’t refer only to using verbs that denote strong action and imagery, such as plunge, smash, or sprint. It also means reducing the number of helping verbs by… Read more »