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Maybe its the anonymous nature of comments, bad grammar school or never learning to diagram a sentence, but the number of people who can’t figure out when to use who or when to use that in a sentence appears to increase every day.
To review from the AP Stylebook
Who is for human beings and animals with a name. A person is always a who. Who is the subject and never the object of a sentence, clause or phrase. Example: The woman who rented the room left the window open.
That is for inanimate objects and animals without a name, including wild animals. That is never for people.
While my second favorite grammar source, Grammar Girl, does indicate a case could be made for using that for a person, she also writes, “I have to take the side of the people who prefer the strict rule. To me, using that when you are talking about a person makes them seem less than human. I always think of my friend who would only refer to his new stepmother as the woman that married my father. He was clearly trying to indicate his animosity and you wouldn’t want to do that accidentally.”
There is no such thing as first (or 1st) annual.
The event can be inaugural in the first year, but never annual.
“An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held in at least two successive years,” according to the AP Stylebook. “Do not use the term first annual. Instead, note that the sponsors plan to hold an event annually.”
As a plea to all public relations professionals, marketers and those organizing a local charity 5k, please stop using first annual. Be proud of the first event!
The No, It’s Not Arbitrary and Does Make Sense: Teaching the English Punctuation System article from busyteacher.org is a great place to review what you know and think you know about punctuation.
A true/false quiz is the best place to start.
1. You write a comma when you take a breath. True False
2. You write a colon before a list. True False
3. You write a period after a thought. True False
4. A letter S should always have an apostrophe before it. True False
5. A period should be written after an independent clause. True False
6. “Mother” and other important words should always be capitalized. True False
How many did you get right?
The rest of the article gives good examples of the right kinds of sentences and punctuation and is worth a review even if you think you’ve got punctuation down.
As my trusty AP Stylebook states, “There is no alternative to correct punctuation.” Sometimes it is just better to recast the sentence than to try to fix it.
You know that moment when you’re writing away and all of a sudden you can’t remember simple things? Like than or then? I once wrote an entire high school AP English paper without using than. To which my very patient teacher asked me, just how late were you up writing this paper? Of course, my answer was much too late.I didn’t get to rewrite the paper, but I have yet to forget than and then again.
I had a similar experience this morning. Out of nowhere, I couldn’t remember the difference between all together and altogether. Luckily, the AP Stylebook and this wonderful website fixed my confusion.
All together is an adverb and means a group.
Altogether is also an adverb and means completely and totally. It also means considering everything.
Looking this up reminded me of an elementary school lesson on this topic, all together means we (from the together) and we means a group. Only a group of things, people, etc. can get all together.