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In this post I will attempt to explain how to format, punctuate and use proper grammar when using the Endo-European, Germanic, language of English.

Grammar

Grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language.

Paragraph

A paragraph is a self-contained unit of a discourse in writing dealing with a particular point or idea. A paragraph consists of one or more sentences. The start of a paragraph is indicated by beginning on a new line. Sometimes the first line is indented. At various times, the beginning of a paragraph has been indicated by the pilcrow: ¶.

Sentence

A sentence is an expression in natural language. It is often defined as a grammatical unit consisting of one or more words that bear minimal syntactic relation to the words that precede or follow it. A sentence can include words grouped meaningfully to express a statement, question, exclamation, request, command or suggestion.

Word

A word is the smallest element that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content (with literal or practical meaning). This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own. A word may consist of a single morpheme (for example: oh!, rock, red, quick, run, expect), or several (rocks, redness, quickly, running, unexpected), whereas a morpheme may not be able to stand on its own as a word (in the words just mentioned, these are -s, -ness, -ly, -ing, un-, -ed).

Punctuation

Full stop

A full stop ( . ) or period is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of sentences.

A period is used after some abbreviations. If the abbreviation ends a declaratory sentence there is no additional period immediately following the full stop that ends the abbreviation (e.g., My name is Gabriel Gama, Jr.) This is called haplography. Though two periods (one for the abbreviation, one for the sentence ending) might be expected, conventionally only one is written. In the case of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence ending with an abbreviation, a question or exclamation mark can still be added (e.g., Are you Gabriel Gama, Jr.?).

Question mark

The question mark (?; also known as an interrogation point, interrogation mark, question point, query or eroteme), is a punctuation mark that replaces the full stop (period) at the end of an interrogative sentence in English and many other languages. The question mark is not used for indirect questions. The question mark character is also often used in place of missing or unknown data.

Exclamation mark

The exclamation mark, exclamation point, bang, or dembanger is a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting), and often marks the end of a sentence. Example: “Watch out!”

A sentence ending in an exclamation mark is an actual exclamation (“Wow!”, “Boo!”), the imperative mood (“Stop!”), or intended to be astonishing or show astonishment: “They were the footprints of a gigantic duck!” Exclamation marks are occasionally placed mid-sentence with a function similar to a comma: “On the walk, oh! there was a frightful noise.” for dramatic effect.

Casually, exclamation marks may be repeated for additional emphasis ("That's great!!!"), but this practice is generally considered unacceptable in formal prose.

The exclamation mark is sometimes used in conjunction with the question mark. This can be in protest or astonishment ("Out of all places; the squatter-camp?!") however this can be replaced with a single, nonstandard punctuation mark, the interrobang or interabang ( ‽ ), which is the union of a question mark and an exclamation point. Again, this is informal.

Overly frequent use of the exclamation mark is generally considered poor writing, for it distracts the reader and reduces the mark's meaning.

Comma

In general, the comma is used where ambiguity might otherwise arise, to indicate an interpretation of the text such that the words immediately before and after the comma are less closely or exclusively linked in the associated grammatical structure than they might be otherwise. The comma may be used to perform a number of functions in English writing.

Commas are used to separate items in lists, as in They own a cat, a dog, two rabbits, and six mice. In English, a comma may or may not be used before the final conjunction (and, or, nor) in a list of more than two elements. A comma used in such a position is called a serial comma or an Oxford or Harvard comma. In some cases, use or omission of such a comma may serve to avoid ambiguity:

Use of serial comma disambiguating:

I spoke to the boys, Sam and Tom. – could be either the boys and Sam and Tom (I spoke to more than three people) or the boys, who are Sam and Tom (I spoke to two people)
I spoke to the boys, Sam, and Tom. – must be the boys and Sam and Tom (I spoke to more than three people)

Omission of serial comma disambiguating:

I thank my mother, Anne Smith, and Thomas. – could be either my mother and Anne Smith and Thomas (three people) or my mother, who is Anne Smith, and Thomas (two people)
I thank my mother, Anne Smith and Thomas. – The writer is thanking three people: the writer's mother and Anne Smith (who is not the writer's mother) and Thomas.

Infinitive

A verb form found in many languages that functions as a noun or is used with auxiliary verbs, and that names the action or state without specifying the subject, as French venir “to come,” Latin esse “to be,” fuisse “to have been.”

(in English) the simple or basic form of the verb, as come, take, eat, be, used after auxiliary verbs, as in I didn't come, He must be, or this simple form preceded by a function word, as to in I want to eat.

A form of the verb not inflected for grammatical categories such as tense and person and used without an overt subject. In English, the infinitive usually consists of the word to followed by the verb

Common mistakes

Okay, OK and O.K.

Whether this word is printed as OK, okay, or O.K. is a matter normally resolved in the style manual for the publication involved. The two-letter version is an acronym. It stands for “oll korrect” or “orl korrect,” jocular 19th-century spellings of “all correct.” Often misspelled as Ok or ok.

To, Too & Two

To

To can act as an adverb, preposition and part of an infinitive.

An infinitive, as in to come

As a preposition: 1.(used for expressing motion or direction toward a point, person, place, or thing approached and reached, as opposed to from ): They came to the house.

2.(used for expressing direction or motion or direction toward something) in the direction of; toward: from north to south.

3.(used for expressing limit of movement or extension): He grew to six feet.

4.(used for expressing contact or contiguity) on; against; beside; upon: a right uppercut to the jaw; Apply varnish to the surface.

5.(used for expressing a point of limit in time) before; until: to this day; It is ten minutes to six. We work from nine to five.

As an adverb: 1.toward a point, person, place, or thing, implied or understood.

2.toward a contact point or closed position: Pull the door to.

3.toward a matter, action, or work: We turned to with a will.

4.into a state of consciousness; out of unconsciousness: after he came to.

Too

Too can act as a Sentence connector; as in that, too, has been said in the past. or as an adverb:

1.in addition; also; furthermore; moreover: young, clever, and rich too.

2.to an excessive extent or degree; beyond what is desirable, fitting, or right: too sick to travel.

3.more, as specified, than should be: too near the fire.

4.(used as an affirmative to contradict a negative statement): I am too!

5.extremely; very: She wasn't too pleased with his behavior.

Two

Two is the written form of the number 2, it is used to describe a specific quantity of a given object. As in I have two dogs.

-'s, -s', and -s

Regular noun
not ending in "s"
Regular noun
ending in "s"
Irregular noun
Singular -’s (e.g. cat's) -’s or -’ (e.g. class's, goodness') -’s (e.g. child's, ox's, mouse's)
Plural -s' (e.g. cats') -es' (e.g. classes', goodnesses') -'s (e.g. children's, oxen's, mice's)

The final -s spelling of the personal possessive pronouns his, hers, ours, yours, theirs is not felt to represent a possessive case|possessive morpheme. For this reason the words are spelled without apostrophes. However, the impersonal one is felt to combine with a possessive morpheme, so that the spelling one's is used. The possessive determiner corresponding to it is an object of widespread confusion. Standard practice is to use the spelling its, and to reserve the spelling it's for the contraction of it is or it has.

Their, They're & There

Their is a third person plural possessive, as in "Their dog is small."

They're is the contraction of 'they are', as in "They're here."

There can be used as an adverb, interjection, noun and pronoun. Some examples are:

Adverb:
(location) In a place or location (stated, implied or otherwise indicated) at some distance from the speaker.
(figuratively) In that matter, relation, etc.; at that point, stage, etc., regarded as a distinct place. "He did not stop there, but continued his speech." "They patched up their differences, but matters did not end there."
(location) To or into that place; thither.
(obsolete) Where, there where, in which place.
(location) In existence or in this world. "The house is over there."

Interjection:
Used to offer encouragement or sympathy. "There, there. Everything is going to turn out all right."
Used to express victory or completion. "There! That knot should hold."

Noun:
That place.
That status; that position. "You get it ready; I'll take it from there."

Pronoun:
Used as an expletive subject of be in its sense of “exist”, with the semantic, usually indefinite subject being postponed or (occasionally) implied.
There are two apples on the table. [=Two apples are on the table.]
There is no way to do it. [=No way to do it exists.]
Is there an answer? [=Does an answer exist?]
No, there isn't. [=No, one doesn't exist.]

Used with other intransitive verbs of existence, in the same sense, or with other intransitive verbs, adding a sense of existence.
If x is a positive number, then there exists [=there is] a positive number y less than x.
There remain several problems with this approach. [=Several problems remain with this approach.]
Once upon a time, in a now-forgotten kingdom, there lived a woodsman with his wife. [=There was a woodsman, who lived with his wife.]
There arose a great wind out of the east. [=There was now a great wind, arising in the east.]

Used with other verbs, when raised.
There seems to be some difficulty with the papers. [=It seems that there is some difficulty with the papers.]
I expected there to be a simpler solution. [=I expected that there would be a simpler solution.]
There are beginning to be complications. [=It's beginning to be the case that there are complications.]

(in combination with certain prepositions, no longer productive) That. therefor, thereat, thereunder

(colloquial) Used to replace an unknown name, principally in greetings and farewells
"Hi there, young fellow."

Your & You're

Your can be a second person singular possessive, as in "Your cat is blind."
Or a determiner that conveys familiarity and mutual knowledge of the modified noun, as in "Not Your Average blind man."

You're is a contraction of 'you are', as in "You're blind"