Show Don't Tell


Point of View

Tense Persons


Names, Pronouns, Descriptive Phrases



Plurals, Numbers, and Apostrophes


Common Errors


Favorite Bloopers

Contact HMG

Click here to read fiction by Susan L. Williams. Click here to learn more about Spider Web Press. Click here to go to The Teddy Lady. Click here for lessons from Holy Mother Grammatica.
<-Plurals, Apostrophes, and Numbers


"Oh, no!" you cry. "Not that!" Yes, that. The dreaded punctuation section. Trust HMG, it's for your own good.

Periods and exclamation marks:

You all know what these are for. They both end sentences, but one gets more excited about it than the other.

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Question marks:

Question marks end questions. This applies to any sentence that begins with who, what, where, why, or how, as well as many others. Some of you will scoff, but HMG has seen this done incorrectly many times. Correct examples:

Example:   Example 2:
Why don't you and Sandburg take the rest of the day off? Chief, how about we catch a movie?

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Commas are good. Commas give us little pauses, not too long, not too short, and help to make things clear, particularly in long sentences, which can be confusing, especially if they go on at length because the writer doesn't know when to stop.

Bad Example:   Good Example:
Jim preferred Jack Kerouac books movies and standing on his head while Blair meditated whenever possible. Jim preferred Jack Kerouac, books, movies, and standing on his head while Blair meditated, whenever possible.
    Good Example 2:

Jim preferred Jack Kerouac books, movies, and standing on his head, while Blair meditated whenever possible.

Commas are also used to isolate phrases within a sentence. If you do this, you must use a comma at the beginning and at the end of the isolated phrase. (Many thanks to MJ for pointing out to HMG her former incorrect usage of the word "clause.")


Jim knew, somewhere in the depths of his soul, that he could never have survived this long without Blair at his side.

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Dashes can also be used for this purpose.


Blair knew--he ought to know by now--that Jim would save his life no matter what the cost.

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Semi-colons are more aggressive commas. They make us stop for a slightly longer time. They are also useful for separating lists of things to make them less confusing.

Example:   Example 2:
Blair was Jim's backup; he was supposed to watch his back. Blair's favorite things were his bracelet, handmade by the Kombai; his long-sleeved, red Henley shirt; and his worn, brown leather backpack.

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Colons are used before lists, when you want a full stop to take a breath before beginning the list.

Example:   Example 2:
This is also a use for a colon, but not the one HMG just told you about This is what I want: a helicopter, ten million dollars, and an anthropologist.

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  <-Plurals, Apostrophes, and Numbers
Common Errors->