Each Tuesday morning, he would close his study door and sit down to write the "Notes and Comment" page for The New Yorker. The task was familiar to him — he was required to file a few hundred words of editorial or personal commentary on some topic in or out of the news that week — but the sounds of his typewriter from his room came in hesitant bursts, with long silences in between. Hours went by. Summoned at last for lunch, he was silent and preoccupied, and soon excused himself to get back to the job.
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File: EPUB, 2. Introductory II. Elementary Rules of Usage 1. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last 3. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas 4. Place a comma before and or but introducing an independent clause 5. Do not join independent clauses by a comma 6.
Do not break sentences in two 7. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject 8. Divide words at line-ends, in accordance with their formation and pronunciation III. Elementary Principles of Composition 9. Make the paragraph the unit of composition: one paragraph to each topic As a rule, begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; end it in conformity with the beginning Use the active voice Put statements in positive form Omit needless words Avoid a succession of loose sentences Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form Keep related words together In summaries, keep to one tense Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end IV.
A Few Matters of Form V. Words Commonly Misspelled I. Introductory This book is intended for use in English courses in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature. It aims to give in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style.
It aims to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attentio; n in Chapters II and III on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated. The numbers of the sections may be used as references in correcting manuscript.
The book covers only a small portion of the field of English style, but the experience of its writer has been that once past the essentials, students profit most by individual instruction based on the problems of their own work, and that each instructor has his own body of theory, which he prefers to that offered by any textbook. George McLane Wood has kindly consented to the inclusion under Rule 11 of some material from his Suggestions to Authors. It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric.
When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation. Unless he is certain of doing as well, he will probably do best to follow the rules. After he has learned, by their guidance, to write plain English adequate for everyday uses, let him look, for the secrets of style, to the study of the masters of literature.
Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last. Thus write, red, white, and blue honest, energetic, but headstrong He opened the letter, read it, and made a note of its contents.
In the names of business firms the last comma is omitted, as Brown, Shipley and Company The abbreviation etc. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas. The best way to see a country, unless you are pressed for time, is to travel on foot. This rule is difficult to apply; it is frequently hard to decide whether a single word, such as however, or a brief phrase, is or is not parenthetic.
If the interruption to the flow of the sentence is but slight, the writer may safely omit the commas. But whether the interruption be slight or considerable, he must never omit one comma and leave the other. Non-restrictive relative clauses are, in accordance with this rule, set off by commas.
The audience, which had at first been indifferent, became more and more interested. Similar clauses introduced by where and when are similarly punctuated. In , when Napoleon was born, Corsica had but recently been acquired by France.
In these sentences the clauses introduced by which, when, and where are non-restrictive; they do not limit the application of the words on which they depend, but add, parenthetically, statements supplementing those in the principal clauses.
Each sentence is a combination of two statements which might have been made independently. The audience was at first indifferent. Later it became more and more interested. Napoleon was born in At that time Corsica had but recently been acquired by France. Nether Stowey is only a few miles from Bridgewater. Restrictive relative clauses are not set off by commas. The candidate who best meets these requirements will obtain the place. In this sentence the relative clause restricts the application of the word candidate to a single person.
Unlike those above, the sentence cannot be split into two independent statements. The abbreviations etc. Similar in principle to the enclosing of parenthetic expressions between commas is the setting off by commas of phrases or dependent clauses preceding or following the main clause of a sentence. The sentences quoted in this section and under Rules 4, 5, 6, 7, 16, and 18 should afford sufficient guidance.
If a parenthetic expression is preceded by a conjunction, place the first comma before the conjunction, not after it. He saw us coming, and unaware that we had learned of his treachery, greeted us with a smile.
Place a comma before and or but introducing an independent clause. The early records of the city have disappeared, and the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed.
The situation is perilous, but there is still one chance of escape. Sentences of this type, isolated from their context, may seem to be in need of rewriting. As they make complete sense when the comma is reached, the second clause has the appearance of an after-thought. Further, and, is the least specific of connectives. Used between independent clauses, it indicates only that a relation exists between them without defining that relation. In the example above, the relation is that of cause and result.
The two sentences might be rewritten: As the early records of the city have disappeared, the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed. Although the situation is perilous, there is still one chance of escape. Or the subordinate clauses might be replaced by phrases: Owing to the disappearance of the early records of the city, the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed.
In this perilous situation, there is still one chance of escape. But a writer may err by making his sentences too uniformly compact and periodic, and an occasional loose sentence prevents the style from becoming too formal and gives the reader a certain relief. Consequently, loose sentences of the type first quoted are common in easy, unstudied writing.
But a writer should be careful not to construct too many of his sentences after this pattern see Rule Two-part sentences of which the second member is introduced by as in the sense of because , for, or, nor, and while in the sense of and at the same time likewise require a comma before the conjunction. If a dependent clause, or an introductory phrase requiring to be set off by a comma, precedes the second independent clause, no comma is needed after the conjunction.
The situation is perilous, but if we are prepared to act promptly, there is still one chance of escape. For two-part sentences connected by an adverb, see the next section. Do not join independent clauses by a comma. If two or more clauses, grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction, are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.
It is nearly half past five; we cannot reach town before dark. It is of course equally correct to write the above as two sentences each, replacing the semicolons by periods.
They are full of exciting adventures. It is nearly half past five. We cannot reach town before dark. If a conjunction is inserted, the proper mark is a comma Rule 4. It is nearly half past five, and we cannot reach town before dark. Note that if the second clause is preceded by an adverb, such as accordingly, besides, so, then, therefore, or thus, and not by a conjunction, the semicolon is still required. I had never been in the place before; so I had difficulty in finding my way about.
In general, however, it is best, in writing, to avoid using so in this manner; there is danger that the writer who uses it at all may use it too often.
A simple correction, usually serviceable, is to omit the word so, and begin the first clause with as: As I had never been in the place before, I had difficulty in finding my way about. If the clauses are very short, and are alike in form, a comma is usually permissible: Man proposes, God disposes. The gate swung apart, the bridge fell, the portcullis was drawn up.
Do not break sentences in two. In other words, do not use periods for commas. I met them on a Cunard liner several years ago.
The Elements of Style
Harcourt republished it in page format in Tenney later revised it for publication as The Elements and Practice of Composition In the style guide reached the attention of E. White at The New Yorker. White had studied writing under Strunk in but had since forgotten "the little book" that he described as a "forty-three-page summation of the case for cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity in the use of English". More than ten million copies of three editions were later sold. Strunk , and the concluding chapter, "An Approach to Style", a broader, prescriptive guide to writing in English.
Elements of Style, The, 4th Edition
File: EPUB, 2. Introductory II. Elementary Rules of Usage 1. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last 3. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas 4.