Sunday, July 21, 2019

Today's Writing Tip Is When to Use Less and When to Use Fewer

There is an easy rule to remember for when to use the word less and when to use the word fewer and that is that less applies to things that can't be counted whereas fewer applies to things that can be quantified. Here are examples:

Less—time, stress, pollution. San Francisco has less pollution than Beijing. I have less time now to write writing tips than I used to.

Fewerstudents, cars, obstacles. Argenis was happy to have fewer obstacles in his new job than the last job. Fewer students are studying Spanish this term than in the summer.

Happy writing!


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Today's Writing Tip Is about Punctuation: Does a Period Go before or after Quotation Marks?

Knowing how to punctuate properly can be confusing when we are dealing with quotation marks.

I use the Chicago Manual of Style and this is what they recommend:

Periods: put the period inside the quotation marks.

For example, Jim said that his mother was "out of breath."

Question Marks: this depends on whether the words in quotation form a question or not.

For example, Jim asked his mother, "Are you going out to play bridge?" Are you going out to play bridge is a question, so we want the question mark inside the quotations. But what if I rephrase the example as such? Is Jim's mother a real "whiz" at bridge? In this instance, the whole sentence is a question, so we put the question mark at the end of the sentence, not within the quotations.
Colons and Semicolons: these go outside the quotation marks.

For example, Jim told Andy that he "loved living in Florida"; summer was his favorite season. Or, Jim told Andy that he used to love "living in Ontario": too cold for him now though. Notice that the main difference between my using the semicolon and the colon was that the former separated two independent clauses that could stand alone, and the latter was followed by a dependent clause that could not stand alone.

Happy writing!