Breakfast with Strunk and White

I guess it’s not typical to have a Breakfast Picnic, but I was in the mood, the sun was calling, and the green beans needed eating, so I had one. An orange, a glass of milk, and a handful of green beans are perfect for a Saturday morning picnic, no?

Strunk and White joined me; it was a delightful conversation, and I discovered some new tidbits about punctuation.

According to these two gentlemen, the following principles are the most important “that govern punctuation. They should be so thoroughly mastered that their application comes second nature.”

Rule 3: “Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.” Second nature. Done. Boom.

Rule 4: “Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause.” Thank goodness I learned this one in high school!

Rule 5: “Do not join independent clauses with a comma.” Also understood in high school. Boom. 🙂

Rule 6: “Do not break sentences in two.” (“In other words, do not use periods for commas.”)

I believe these are pretty straight forward, pretty understood, and pretty basic. I think I can handle them. Yes?

Also, here are some of Strunk and White’s thoughts on colons and dashes:

“The colon has more effect than the comma, less power to separate than the semicolon, and more formality than the dash.”

“A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses.”

Mr. Strunk and Mr. White, it was delightful dining with you under the Missouri Saturday sky, and I do hope to chat again very soon!


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