On Writing: Let’s Talk Grammar and Punctuation for a While
(Post Number Six)
The Punctual Period
Are you kidding me? We’re going to talk about periods? That little miniscule dot at the end of a declarative sentence that everyone knows belongs there to complete the thought? “Why waste the time?” you’re probably asking. “Let’s move on. I know everything there is to know about periods.”
Well, let’s see if you do. I’m going to list some of the most frequent uses (besides its obvious use at the end of every declarative sentence) and some of its misuses. You’ll either yawn your way through this blog post or you’ll raise your eyebrows in wow-I-didn’t-know-that surprise.
Let’s play “Which one is correct?” Below are samples of different uses of periods. In each set, one use is correct; the other is not. Choose one from each set that you think is the right one. The correct answers are listed at the end of the blog. If you’re a period genius, and you get 100%, let me know, and we’ll brag about you on Facebook. (Today you’re getting a taste of what it’s like to be an editor):
A.) When John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1), he was referring to Jesus Christ.
B.) When John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), he was referring to Jesus Christ.
A.) When God asked Adam where he was after the fall, Adam said, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10 KJV)
B.) When God asked Adam where he was after the fall, Adam said, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10 KJV).
Sample Three: (A block quotation)
A.) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
B.) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Sample Four – a postscript after the salutation in a letter:
A.) P.S. Tell Susie I’ll be at the game on Friday.
B.) PS Tell Susie I’ll be at the game on Friday. (No periods after the “P” and “S.”
Sample Five – abbreviation of the state of North Carolina:
A.) The Smithsonian Institute is in Washington, D.C., for many years.
B.) The Smithsonian Institute is in Washington, DC, for many years.
A.) Brian’s new third grade teacher is Ms Batdorf. (No period after Ms)
B.) Brian’s new third grade teacher is Ms. Batdorf.
A.) Margie just moved to 678 N.W. Lane Street in Albany.
B.) Margie just moved to 678 NW Lane Street in Albany. (No periods with the abbreviation for North West)
A.) The time period “Before Christ” is represented with the letters B.C. on legal documents.
B.) The time period “Before Christ” is represented with the letters BC on legal documents. ( No periods with BC)
A.) Herbie’s appointment at the dentist was for 11:00 am, but he forgot all about it. (No periods with the abbreviation for ante meridiem)
B.) Herbie’s appointment at the dentist was for 11:00 a.m., but he forgot all about it.
Letter B is correct for all samples except for samples five and six; both answers are correct for samples five and six.
So, do we have any period geniuses in the crowd? If you think any of my answers are wrong, then you’ll have to argue with 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, over which I labored for over an hour, studying these period options. There are many other period issues addressed in the CMOS, of which I have not the time nor the space to mention. So if you’re into mastering the Period Technique, get your CMOS out of the closet and start studying!
Hopefully, this little bit of information I’ve shared will help you handle the little speck of ink we call a “period” more skillfully the next time you tackle one of your writing projects. If you’re brave enough, go to the Writers of Any Genre group on Facebook, and let us know how you did.
Next time, we’re going to look at the flippant ellipsis.
Watch for updates concerning next July’s Montrose Christian Writers Conference. We have a dynamite faculty lined up, including film actor Torry Martin, Jim Hart from Hartline, four editors/authors from publishing companies plus eleven other best-selling authors and the music specialists, Donna and Conrad Krieger.
P.S. If you haven’t been receiving my periodic Montrose Christian Writers Conference newsletter and you’d like to be on the mailing list, please contact me. A tremendous faculty has committed and promises to present dynamite classes for all aspects of writing.
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