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Punctuation Pointers

Understanding why correct syntax matters will help you develop your editing skills when you're proofreading someone else's work. In business writing, “syntax” is a set of rules that explain how you should put words together to make a sentence. YourDictionary.com explains that syntax includes “word choice, matching number and tense, and placing...
People are unpredictable, when it comes to criticism. You can be talking to a giant of constancy and courage, but this same person can be offended to tears if you point out some error in their work or life. Conversely, you can be sitting with a fragile individual and they...
How good are you at finding errors? The three short error quests below will test your proofreading skills and your knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and structure. Each quest contains just one error—no more, no less. Can you find it? You may be surprised at the solutions. Good luck!   Error Quest...
Yesterday I went on an urban hike. Climbing stairs among lush greenery, I spotted the sign below. Not again! Someone had once again printed a sign without checking on their use of apostrophes. Don’t do it! Before creating a sign or printing cards that include an apostrophe, read this...
Over the past 24 hours, news outlets have featured a story about the closing of the Apostrophe Protection Society, whose founder, John Richards, wrote, "We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!" I say they have...
Hyphens are among the most challenging punctuation marks. In two phrases that seem very much alike, one will have a hyphen and one will not.  Consider an example. Would you add hyphens to the following sentence? Syntax Training is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Seattle with a 30 percent discount on...
Today I read "Ask Amy" in The Seattle Times. Amy was giving advice to someone who could not set boundaries for herself. I liked Amy's advice, but her punctuation--or lack of it--grabbed my attention.  Which punctuation mark would you add to the sentence below? After you decide, scroll down to read my...
Warm up by finding one concisely spelled error in this sign. When you find it, go on to the next challenge.   This dumpster sign has three punctuation errors, along with some funny commentary. Don't quit until you find everything.  Thank you to Eric W., who finds wonderfully flawed signs in...
Below is a screenshot of the first half of an email invitation I received for a bill-signing event in Seattle. I understood the content and appreciated the invitation, but I couldn't help spotting all the errors. How many do you recognize? Feel free to edit the message and post your...
I saw this great card designed by Jessica Hogarth at my local supermarket. It's a thank-you card for a teacher. Does it contain an error? If so, where? If not, why not? Do you worry about whether errors are getting by you? Or that you are correcting non-errors? Check out these...