Grammar Lessons #2, 3, and 4
1. When citing references in text, the parenthetical reference should be outside of the period (after) the sentence to which it belongs, unless the reference itself it explicitly referred to in the sentence in question. That is to say, the parenthetical reference should be in the “no-man’s land” between the sentence it is referencing and the following sentence. For example,
“This is a sentence. (Ferguson 2004)” is correct;
“This is a sentence (Ferguson 2004).” isn’t.
Keep in mind that this is occasionally a stylistic issue and may be treated differently in other countries.
2. This is a common mistake, even more common than the myself mistake: Full sentences cannot be connected by commas. They must be connected with a period, a semicolon, a colon, or a conjunction (”and,” “but,” “or,” etc.). For example, take the sentence, “We got out of the car, we walked to the store,” which is incorrect. There are four options for quick fixes:
- Period: We got out of the car. We walked to the store.
- Semicolon: We got out of the car; we walked to the store.
- Colon: We got out of the car: We walked to the store.
- Conjunction: We got out of the car, and we walked to the store. (or, We got out of the car, but we walked to the store.)
All of these examples are grammatically correct sentences and properly link two complete sentences together.
3. Following up on the third example above: When a colon is followed by a complete sentence, the leading word must be capitalized (such as in this very sentence!); when it is followed by a phrase or a list of words, it must be lowercase. The use of colons vary widely and there are many, many uses for them, including but not limited to linking two sentences together that have an effectual or direct relationship, for example; introducing a list; or formally “introducing” the sentence or idea that follows it. For example,
“I discovered something yesterday: There’s a difference between ‘afterward’ and ‘afterword.’” is correct.
“I discovered something yesterday: there’s a difference between ‘afterward’ and ‘afterword.’” isn’t.
“I went to the store to get some things: lettuce, parsley, and sage.” is correct.
“I went to the store to get some things: Lettuce, parsley, and sage.” isn’t.
Small, yes, but significant, and annoying when incorrect! Note, too, that the same rule doesn’t apply with semicolons; the leading word in the following sentence or phrase should always be lowercase, regardless of whether it’s a complete sentence (such as in this very sentence!).Gr