‘Place a comma before “which” but not before “that”.’ I’ve come across this simple guideline many times, and it’s certainly memorable, straightforward, and easy to apply. And it works most of the time. However, I often wonder if it’s too simple for its own good. It refers to one … [Read more...] about Can a single comma change the meaning of a whole sentence? A simple guide to placing commas before ‘which’ and ‘that’
I wonder how many of us have ever asked our readers to believe in talking elephants: While talking with a friend, an elephant trumpeted. Or dancing coral reefs: Dancing on Friday, the coral reef sprung back into my memory. Or imagine fruit-eating lions: While eating fruit … [Read more...] about How to avoid talking elephants. Fixing faulty introductory phrases
In the following sentence, a vital comma is missing. Where do you think it should go… and why? If you come over on Friday evening we’ll have a roast dinner. That sentence is composed of two elements that we need to be aware of. … [Read more...] about A tiny comma edit guaranteed to make a massive improvement
Ken Follett opens The Pillars of the Earth with a stark and unsettling line. The small boys came early to the hanging. I was gripped and repulsed at once. Shocked and intrigued. And I read on, hooked. I knew Ken Follett had done something right. And I wondered what. … [Read more...] about Sentence cadence. Uncovering this secret of great prose in “The Pillars of the Earth”
When I finished my first few blogs, I realised that I had based many of my descriptions on “complete sentences”. But what are complete sentences? I decided not to add a description of that to my other posts; they were already full size. However, I knew I couldn’t leave it out … [Read more...] about What makes a complete sentence?