I’m starting a new thing here on North of Andover: daily (if I can keep up with it, but a few times a week at the very least) examples of “glitchy” writing for you to test your own knowledge of grammar, punctuation, etc. by trying to spot the errors.
The trouble with trying to show anyone how the rules work, y’see, is that you need examples of what not to do. I’m not good at making up examples of bad writing (unless it’s very, very bad, and over-the-top mockery of the worst nonsense ever seen on Teh Internetz isn’t going to help anyone learn the difference between colons and semicolons). So I raided (with permission) a couple of web sites that offer writing prompts, and I’ll be using some of those. (I happen to like many of these prompts, by the way, even if I don’t ever use writing prompts myself. I have shared some of the originals on one of my Pinterest boards; I think they’re interesting and potentially quite useful to writers in search of ideas.)
So here’s the first one:
Can you see what’s wrong here? I’ll give you a hint about what’s missing: an apostrophe, two commas, and a capitalized letter.
Scroll down a few lines for the corrected version, but not until you’ve at least tried to figure it out for yourself…
…And here’s the corrected version.
“No child that age should have gone through so much. It’s a wonder they’re not dangerous.”
“Better keep watch, then, eh?”
The apostrophe in It’s and the capitalization for Better should have been easy. The commas, however… I’ve said it many, many times: lots of people have trouble with commas. Here, both then and eh are used as interrupters — what we called mild interjections back in my day. Interrupters are separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma: Well, that explains it.