A few years ago, I rented a car. Normally this wouldn’t be a memorable event. But an appalling misuse of grammar burned it into my mind, and years later, I haven’t forgotten.
You see, when I went to the airport to return the rental, I saw this wonderfully instructive sign:
Please… LEAVE “KEYS” IN CAR!
And this brings me to today’s grammar lesson: how and when to use quotation marks.
If the semicolon was just a little less top-heavy, then it would be a comma, and rightfully used and appreciated. Sadly, many writers have a confused relationship with the semicolon, not really sure how or when to use semicolons in their lovely sentences.
Don’t worry, little semicolon. Your virtues will not be lost on this audience as long as I have a say in it.
People ask me all the time (and by all the time, I mean never), “Liz, what is your favorite grammatical/punctuational structure?” It’s hard to narrow it down to just one (although you’re probably already aware of my love for the Oxford comma), but if I happened to be in a life-or-death of language situation, it would probably be the parenthetical statement.
I bet you already figured that out.
You’ve probably heard people decry the use of the passive voice. “Avoid it at all costs!” they say. That’s a little misleading; the passive voice isn’t always bad.
However, you must understand what it is and learn to recognize it so you can choose how to use it effectively.
We avoided it as long as we could, but it was bound to come up sooner or later. Today, we’re covering the apparent mother of all grammatical quandaries: who vs. whom. What’s the difference between these two tricky pronouns?