3 Types of Parenthetical Problems

Writers sometimes carelessly neglect to close a syntactical door after opening it. In this case, “if not impossible” is a parenthetical interjected into the main clause, so a comma must follow as well as precede it: “The survey found increasing demand for customer experiences that are difficult, if not impossible, to deliver with legacy systems.”

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What to Do When a Dangling Participle Defies Revision

A dangling participle is a construction in which the participle, or verb, that follows the subject of a sentence is not associated with an introductory phrase, leaving the participle dangling. For example, in “As a client, we know this new standard may affect you and your financial-reporting requirements,” the subject “we” is identified in the introductory phrase (which modifies we) “as a client.”

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3 Cases of Poorly Constructed Short Lists

In each of the following sentences, the writer is under the misapprehension that the statement includes a list of three words and/or phrases; in fact, each sentence includes a compound list item and a simple list item (or at least is better rendered so that it does), for a total of two items. Discussion of each example explains the problem, and a revision after each sentence resolves the problem.

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Words Starting with “Epi-“

The prefix epi, from the Greek word meaning “at,” “close to,” “on,” “in addition to,” or “on the occasion of,” is at the root of a number of diverse words that pertain in some way to something associated with something else. This post lists and briefly defines many of these terms.

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Punctuation Quiz #17: Attribution

The following sentences deliberately lack internal punctuation whether such punctuation is correct or not. Insert punctuation as necessary to correct them.

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3 Sentences with Punctuation Problems

Commas serve a vital function as a fundamental organizing tool within sentences, acting as buffers that keep syntactical elements in place and as signals that indicate relationship. Often, however, they are incorrectly located, omitted, or inserted, adversely affecting comprehension. After each of the sentences below, a discussion explains why a comma is misplaced, missing, or extraneous, and a revision demonstrates the correct placement.

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Hyphenation Quiz #1: Attaching Prefixes to Words

Identify in each sentence below whether, according to The Chicago Manual of Style and most other style guides, the word with a prefix should have a hyphen connecting the prefix to the base word or whether the prefix should be directly attached to the base word.

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20 Archetypes for People Based on Names

Various expressions have arisen, sometimes from folkloric or historical origins, to describe types of people by assigning them with personal names. Here are twenty such appellations and their definitions and (sometimes only probable) origins.

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3 Cases of Confused Connections

Relationships between sentence elements are sometimes obscured by suboptimal syntax. In each of the following examples, ordering of phrases is an obstacle to comprehension. Discussion and revision of each sentences explains and provides a solution.

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The Article “The” in Geographical Names

When is it appropriate to use the article the in geographical names? Some types of terms are consistent, but for other categories, usage differs depending on the type of name. The following discussion lists categorical examples and explains why the is used with some designations and not others.

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40 Words Beginning with “Para-“

The prefix para- is versatile, meaning “beside,” “closely related,” or “closely resembling”; “accessory” or “subsidiary”; “beyond”; or “abnormal” or “faulty.” The commonality is that a word beginning with para- pertains to the relationship or resemblance of something to something else. This post lists and briefly defines words with the prefix.

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Punctuation Quiz #16: Phrasal Adjectives

A phrasal adjective is a set of two or more words that, as a unit, modifies a noun. Phrasal adjectives are often hyphenated to signal the combination of two words to describe the noun that follows, but occasionally a phrase is familiar enough that it does not warrant a hyphen, or it is treated as a closed compound. Choose the version of each sentence that treats the adjective or phrasal adjective correctly.

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