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#Grammarproblems: Further Grammar Tips To Enhance Your Superiority

Updated on August 1, 2016

I noticed that a lot of you seemed to find my last grammar tip post pretty helpful (not to mention amusing, and I long for your affirmation once more). So I thought I’d follow up with some additional pointers. I’ve set it up in Q&A format for easy readability. Because I’m personable like that.

So come, bold grammarians, and join me once more as we weave our way through the twisted, perverse wreckage that is the labyrinth of the English language.

Does punctuation go inside or outside of quotation marks?

An excellent question. And of course there is no black or white answer. The basic rule is that exclamation points, question marks, periods, and commas go inside, and colons and semicolons go outside (no matter how stupid they may look while doing so).

Some examples are below.

Exclamation points: Mom said, “The sink is no place for your poopy underwear!”

Question marks: Sometimes I think: “What would happen if I poured soup in my pants?”

Periods: Yvonne said angrily, “I’d rather wipe my butt with a cactus than learn one more thing about grammar.”

Commas: Marcy told me that setting my homework on fire was “wrong,” but in my opinion it all depends on how you view ethical behavior.

Colons: When your friends tell you to “read E.L. James,” you know perfectly well what they mean by “read’’: taking her books to the toilet so you have backup if you run out of butt paper.

Semicolons: When you throw that sack of killer rabbits on your cousin, make sure she doesn’t scream out “ambush”; it might attract unwelcome attention.

Junior needs a beer....
Junior needs a beer....

Is there a difference between “affect” and “effect?”

No. It's all stupid. Let's go get drunk and call it a day.

Okay, okay, I'm being bitter, but come on. This one is particularly annoying, and writers seem to get away with either. But here’s a good rule to start with: “affect” usually means “to influence” while “effect” means more “to cause.” As the wordy wizards at Grammarly so aptly summarize, "A affects B, B experiences the effect of A’s action."

Here's some examples to help clarify:

“The explosion had a grisly effect on my face. Namely, it blew half of it off.”

“The comeback of pumpkin spice lattes affected me deeply. I cried with joy.”

Also note that “affect” has to do with facial expressions:

“When I started talking about grammar, her face took on a slack affect.”

(Kind of like how yours did during this post, I’m sure.)

Easy, right? Wrong. But good luck anyway. Personally, this link here has been very helpful for me. I hope it serves you as well.

Behold, the sole exception. #Waltdon'tgiveadamn
Behold, the sole exception. #Waltdon'tgiveadamn
This is why we drink.
This is why we drink.

When should I use semicolons?

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Except wear pants in public, and I only say that because you’d be arrested if you didn’t (law enforcement agencies, you swine).

But when it comes to shaking up your diction in your writing, semicolons are admittedly a great way to do it. I’m not going to bore you with talk about independent clauses, dependent clauses, and so forth.

Outside of grammar school, who gives a crap about those things? The only thing you really need to get into your brain about semicolons is that they're basically like periods, only you don’t have to capitalize the next sentence following it. Which makes it a great punctuation choice for lazy people.

Just be careful not to mix it up with commas. Some people use commas when they actually need semicolons, and the result is a run-on sentence:

Right: “I absolutely hate the Harry Potter movies; they hardly do the books justice.”

With a semicolon, this sentence looks like it was written by an adult. Compare that to this one:

Wrong: “I absolutely hate the Harry Potter movies, they hardly do the books justice.”

This makes you look like you are five. Or drunk. Or both (in which case who are your parents, because I need to have them over and take notes on child rearing ASAP). When you’re still not quite sure when to use a semicolon, just mentally swap it out for a period. If your sentence still makes sense, you’re on the right track.

But then, who knows? This is English, so your track could go haywire at the last second. But at least you gave it a shot. Points for effort.


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