3 Cases of Insufficient Punctuation
Each of the following sentences is compromised by the lack of one or two punctuation marks, resulting in a potential for confusion among readers. Discussion following each example explains the flaw, and a revision demonstrates clearer sentence composition.
1. Move over millennials—this group is taking over the rental market.
The imperative “move over,” followed by a word identifying who is to act according to the imperative to step aside, reads as if an unspecified audience is being told to change their location at a position above a certain demographic group. When a sentence begins with a directive and a modifier, separate the two sentence elements with a comma: “Move over, millennials—this group is taking over the rental market.”
2. This paper introduces a methodology based on industry-accepted frameworks that details all the steps firms need to take to conduct a comprehensive and compliant risk assessment.
Here, the lack of agreement between frameworks and details signals that the verb does not apply to the noun, but their proximity still introduces a signal-to-noise obstacle, which would be amplified if the noun and verb did agree. To clarify that details pertains to methodology, not frameworks, bracket the modifying phrase “based on industry-accepted frameworks” with commas: “This paper introduces a methodology, based on industry-accepted frameworks, that details all the steps firms need to take to conduct a comprehensive and compliant risk assessment.”
3. Distribution and routes to market can be helped by implementing an automated digital portal although this is a bit more complex since it can have an impact on commission.
This breathlessly barreling sentence benefits from a couple of inserted commas to signal nested subordinate clauses—the phrase beginning with since is subordinate to the one beginning with although, which in turn is subordinate to the main clause: “Distribution and routes to market can be helped by implementing an automated digital portal, although this is a bit more complex, since it can have an impact on commission.”
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