Spelling isn’t important. If you think it is, read the following paragraph from one of the educated in the herd who went to Cambridge University:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
See! Spelling isn’t important. It’s only important to get the first and last letters of the word correct so that your mind can interpret what you’re reading. However, when it comes to grammar and punctuation, that’s another story altogether.
I’ve read a few posts where people complain about the misuse of the words ‘your’ and ‘you’re’; as well as the words ‘they’re’, ‘there’ and ‘their’; but I haven’t read a post that complains about the misuse of “THEN” and “THAN” or commas and semicolons in a series.
And that changes today.
Over at the Grammarist website, we find that “then“ is an adverb normally used for referencing actions that involve time. For example,
“My ex-girlfriend drank a lot of vodka, ‘then’ she would call me and try to conceal her drunken state.”
Another use of the word ‘then’ is in “if….then” constructions. For example,
“If my ex-girlfriend had stopped drinking, ‘then’ we might still be together.”
Finally, the word ‘then’ can be used as a noun or an adjective: For example…
(Noun): “My ex-girlfriend asked me to accompany her to a social gathering, but ‘then’ wasn’t a good time for either of us.”
(Adjective: meaning: “at that time”): “My ‘then’ girlfriend was very beautiful.”
Conversely, the word “than“ is a conjunction mainly used as a means to compare something. For example,
“The wedding dress my ex-girlfriend wore is whiter ‘than’ the one she should have been wearing.”
If you’re not sure which one to use, here’s a not-so-simple way to figure it out: Ask yourself if you’re comparing two items or thoughts, if you are, “then” you must use “than”.
Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s a good way to learn the proper use of each word in a sentence.
Okay, so now that we have the easy part out of the way. Let’s discuss the proper use of commas and semicolons when listing a series of items in a sentence.
Here are two pathetic attempts at forming a sentence with commas and semicolons. Both are incorrect, and I’ll explain why in a sec.
Example #1: “My ex-girlfriend told me that I was a jerk, the stupidest man on the face of the earth, and a moron.” (incorrect use of commas.)
Example #2: “I told my ex-girlfriend that she was a judgmental; selfish; alcoholic; and filled with extreme bitterness towards others.” (incorrect use of semicolons)
The reason that both sentences are incorrect is because there are comma rules and semicolon rules that need to be followed and neither sentence is using them correctly.
Here is one of the many comma rules: ~ When forming sentences that contain a series, the commas are never needed before the coordinating conjunction that ends the series.
Here’s an example:
“My ex-girlfriend told me that I was a jerk, the stupidest man on the face of the earth and a moron.”
See…no comma is needed after the word “earth”.
If there were more items listed, then (I used “then” here because I’m referencing something that happened in time) we would use more commas and leave out the comma before the coordinating conjunction word that ends the series.
Here’s an example:
“I told my ex-girlfriend that she was a judgmental, selfish, alcoholic and filled with extreme bitterness towards others.”
As for Semicolons…the rule is this: ~ The only time you need to use a semicolon to separate items in a series is when commas are being used within the series itself.
Here’s an example:
“In her haste to get as far away from me as possible my ex-girlfriend traveled to Seattle, WA; Dallas, TX; Oakland, CA and Flagstaff, AZ to find a new city to live in.”
Notice that semicolons are used to differentiate between the items listed, and commas are used within the items being listed. It actually makes the sentence a little easier to read.
Also, notice that once again I didn’t use any punctuation before the coordinating conjunction “and” that ends the series.
So…that’s my pathetic attempt at teaching you all some proper grammar and punctuation lessons. I hope you all learned something.
Poor spelling isn’t so bad, but improper grammar and punctuation is just pathetic.