Triangle Grammar Guide

Longtime N&O journalist Pam Nelson writes about language use and misuse and answers questions about grammar and style. Readers can weigh in on what annoys them, too. Think of this as your online grammar class. Send e-mail to Pam at

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Punctuation mystery: Why a comma?

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Staff photojournalist Shawn Rocco and staff writer Martha Quillin reported this week on Cary homeowner David Bowden's very large message to the town of Cary. You can see Rocco's photo below. The ACLU says the town would be abridging free speech if it used an ordinance to get the sign removed. But, as one of my colleagues points out, the big question for those of us with a copy editor/grammar geek mentality is: Why does the message end with a comma? Your thoughts are welcome.



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The dangling comma

I was talking to my buddies down at the Punctuation Warehouse and we've sent him a holiday assortment including a set of four matched ellipsis dots and an exclamation mark, all from the same font (I think it is "Holdup Note") and color.
We wanted to send him some quotation marks but they never stay in stock, they're snapped up by all the amateur sign makers as soon as they come in.

Why didn't the reporter ask

Why didn't the reporter ask him that?

Punctuation Mystery

Simple! He's waiting to have to add Wake County, State of North Carolina, and the Federal Government to his list.

Maybe there is more message

Maybe there is more message to come? That would be interesting!

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About the blogger

Pam Nelson began her career as a writer in 1976 and has worked in various editing jobs at The News & Observer since 1987. She has won awards for her headline writing and has taught college classes in copy editing and seminars in grammar and usage.