rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,
are the possessives of ancient proper names in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus', and such forms as
for conscience' sake, for righteousness' sake. But such forms as Achilles' heel, Moses' laws, Isis' temple are commonly replaced by
the temple of Isis
possessives hers, its, theirs, yours, and oneself have no apostrophe.
way to see a country, unless you are pressed for time, is to travel on foot.
is difficult to apply; it is frequently hard to decide whether a single word, such as however or a brief phrase, is
or is not parenthetic. If the interruption to the flow of the sentence is but slight, the writer may safely omit the commas.
But whether the interruption be slight or considerable, he must never omit one comma and leave the other. Such punctuation
husband, Colonel Nelson paid us a visit yesterday,
you will be pleased to hear, is now in perfect health,
relative clauses are, in accordance with this rule, set off by commas.
which had at first been indifferent, became more and more interested.
introduced by where and when are similarly punctuated.
when Napoleon was born, Corsica had but recently been acquired by France.
where Coleridge wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is a few miles from Bridgewater.
sentences the clauses introduced by which, when, and where are non-restrictive; they do not limit the application
of the words on which they depend, but add, parenthetically, statements supplementing those in the principal clauses. Each
sentence is a combination of two statments which might have been made independently.
was at first indifferent. Later it became more and more interested.
was born in 1769. At that time Corsica had but recently been acquired by France.
wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner at Nether Stowey. Nether Stowey is only a few miles from Bridgewater.
relative clauses are not set off by commas.
who best meets these requirements will obtain the place.
In this sentence
the relative clause restricts the application of the word candidate to a single person. Unlike those above, the sentence
cannot be split into two independent statements.
If a parenthetic
expression is preceded by a conjunction, place the first comma before the conjunction, not after it.
He saw us
coming, and unaware that we had learned of his treachery, greeted us with a smile.
records of the city have disappeared, and the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed.
is perilous, but there is still one chance of escape.
of this type, isolated from their context, may seem to be in need of rewriting. As they make complete sense when the comma
is reached, the second clause has the appearance of an after-thought. Further, and, is the least specific of connectives.
Used between independent clauses, it indicates only that a relation exists between them without defining that relation. In
the example above, the relation is that of cause and result. The two sentences might be rewritten:
As the early
records of the city have disappeared, the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed.
the situation is perilous, there is still one chance of escape.
Or the subordinate
clauses might be replaced by phrases:
the disappearance of the early records of the city, the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed.
In this perilous
situation, there is still one chance of escape.
But a writer
may err by making his sentences too uniformly compact and periodic, and an occasional loose sentence prevents the style from
becoming too formal and gives the reader a certain relief. Consequently, loose sentences of the type first quoted are common
in easy, unstudied writing. But a writer should be careful not to construct too many of his sentences after this pattern.
sentences of which the second member is introduced by as (in the sense of because), for, or, nor, and
while (in the sense of and at the same time) likewise require a comma before the conjunction.
If a dependent
clause, or an introductory phrase requiring to be set off by a comma, precedes the second independent clause, no comma is
needed after the conjunction.
is perilous, but if we are prepared to act promptly, there is still one chance of escape.
sentences connected by an adverb, see the next section.
If two or
more clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark
of punctuation is a semicolon.
romances are entertaining; they are full of exciting adventures.
It is nearly
; we cannot reach town before dark.
It is of
course equally correct to write the above as two sentences each, replacing the semicolons by periods.
romances are entertaining. They are full of exciting adventures.
It is nearly
. We cannot reach town before dark.
If a conjunction
is inserted, the proper mark is a comma.
romances are entertaining, for they are full of exciting adventures.
It is nearly
, and we cannot reach town before dark.
if the second clause is preceded by an adverb, such as accordingly, besides, so, then, therefore, or thus, and
not by a conjunction, the semicolon is still required.
I had never
been in the place before; so I had difficulty in finding my way about.
however, it is best, in writing, to avoid using so in this manner; there is danger that the writer who uses it at all
may use it too often. A simple correction, usually serviceable, is to omit the word so, and begin the first clause
As I had
never been in the place before, I had difficulty in finding my way about.
If the clauses
are very short, and are alike in form, a comma is usually permissible:
swung apart, the bridge fell, the portcullis was drawn up.
is room at the end of a line for one or more syllables of a word, but not for the whole word, divide the word, unless this
involves cutting off only a single letter, or cutting off only two letters of a long word. No hard and fast rule for all words
can be laid down. The principles most frequently applicable are: