Punctuation Comic

Some punctuation puns.


I should add that an M-dash is three times longer than a hyphen. And be sure to pronounce the second “s” in asterisk.

On, By, or -ly?

This post has to do with three usages of the root word accident that make it into an adverb.

  • If you ain’t got no good taste, use “on accident.” See the comic below, though the comic itself is worth subscribing to if you’re an intellectual.
  • If you’re normal, use “by accident.”
  • If you want to be top-notch in your writing, use “accidentally.”

Harrumpf. Ain’t never tried rye whiskey, myself…

A Good Example of Agreement

Agreement, remember, is singular words connecting to singular words, and plural words connecting to plurals. We say “Tom jumps,” not “Tom jump,” “John and Paul run” not “John and Paul runs.” We say “the party is,” not “the party are” and so on. With long complex sentences, it can get tricky.

Take a look at this sentence:

Financial institutions, merchants, and individuals are all concerned with their reputations, which prevents theft and fraud. 


Look at all those plurals! institutions, merchants, individuals, reputations. And we have a subordinate clause, (“which prevents theft and fraud”) which refers to something, but its verb is singular! What does the clause refer to? Well, what does the preventing? It’s their concern. All those plurals have a concern, singular. That subordinate clause is an adverb clause, not an adjective clause.

How, you ask, can a plural verb represent a singular noun? Well, it can. I said these long sentences can be tricky. You just have to think.

Another Verbed Noun

I’ve heard this usage several times.


Just don’t call the practice of using the word “adult” as a verb “adultery.”

Infer or Imply?

They covered this mistake rather regularly in English class, but I don’t see it very often in real life. Perhaps the latter is because of the former, eh?

Here are the definitions:

  • Imply—to suggest something without saying it explicitly
  • Infer—a type of logic when you look at a bunch of examples and detect a pattern

I think this guy means “imply.”

Pros & Cons - 02/09/2019

Enough said. Use “infer” and “imply” correctly.

A Comic Curmudgeon

I like it when a comic has a character who’s a compulsive grammar corrector. Saves me having to do it.


The comic says it all; she’s right. (In other strips, though, she’s a terrible driver.)

Antecedents Matter

Let’s start with some rules

  • An antecedent is a word toward the front of a sentence that a word farther along in the sentence (called the proform) refers to.
  • Antecedents and proforms have to agree, which means they have the same grammatical form (both have to be singular or both plural, for example.)
  • “Who” refers to people, “that” refers to non-people

Here are two examples, both from this article:

This news organization sat down with Crandall at Attivo’s headquarters to discuss the company’s work for customers, which include consumer-goods companies, tech firms, law offices, and government agencies.

Okay, is it the comany’s work or the company’s customers that’s included? It’s the customers! Even besides the list making sense as a list of customers, both “customers” and the proform, “include” are plural. So the grammar tells you, too.

There is this very advanced set of attackers that will use all sorts of social engineering to figure out how to get around the security systems.

“That” goes with non-humans, right? And attackers are human, right? So it should be “who will use etc.” right? But “set” is a math term, right? Non-human, right? Well… the context indicates that this is a set of humans, so I think “who” is still appropriate. (And “will use” can be either singular or plural, so that’s no help.) But that’s the editor in me.

What does the editor in you say?

When “You” Means “Me”

The dinosaur is talking about himself the whole time, even though he switches from first person (me) in his first sentence, to second person (you) in the second sentence. He uses “you” in a generic sense, which I mentioned a while back.


What the dinosaur is saying would be smoother if he had stuck with either first person or second person the whole time. Try reading it to yourself each way. Which do you like better?

A Correct “Only”

People commonly put “only” at the beginning of a clause when the word actually modifies a word within the clause. The rule is that adjectives (such as “only”) modify the word following. Putting that “only” too early can lead to nonsense.

This guy gets it right. Third panel. Think what he’d be saying if he had placed the “only” one word earlier, in front of “helps.” In this case still true, perhaps, but not his point.


By the way, in the next panel, that’s a rectangular prism, not a cube. But I digress.

PS—Here’s a typical incorrect “only.” Second word balloon. It should be “only last week.” (Ignore the “only” in the first word balloon. It shouldn’t even be there.)


Someone Gets It! All Right!

I’ve been seeing “alright” used so often lately, that I figured I had too many to choose from if I pointed out this mistake. Besides, I wrote about it at least once before. It’s two words, folks, “all right.” I’ve been discouraged about seeing this solecism so often, so having found someone who got it right, I have to celebrate:


If you want one word, maybe spell it “arright.”