Writing Glitch #446

Today’s second glitch:

Change 60s (kudos, though, for not using an apostrophe there) to sixties.

Add a comma after willowy and get rid of the comma after hair. Also get rid of the comma after vice. (Why would anyone think a comma belongs there?)

Brooke is a novelist in her sixties. She is very short and willowy, with greying hair and pale blue eyes. She lives with her cat and dog. Her not-so-secret vice is brandy.


[Update: WordPress is behaving badly and will not allow me to reply to Sheron’s comment, so here it is: There is no rule (or even guideline) specifically saying not to use a comma before a prepositional phrase. What you’re probably thinking of is the rule not to use a comma before a restrictive phrase; some of those do begin with prepositions. EnglishPlus.com says “Do not use a comma between separate phrases unless they are in a series. A comma may also set off a single prepositional phrase at the beginning to make the sentence clear. A comma is recommended after any introductory prepositional phrase of more than four words.This website has more explanation, including an example containing a comma before with. Basically, the phrase with greying hair and pale blue eyes is nonrestrictive, so it needs to be set off with commas, a nd the presence of a preposition at the beginning of the phrase has nothing to do with whether the commas are needed.]


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to Writing Glitch #446

  1. Sheron says:

    What’s the rule for the comma before with? With is a preposition and shouldn’t have a comma before it… I thought.


  2. I would argue that, since it is part of the description, “with greying hair and pale blue eyes” is a restrictive phrase. I’d leave the comma out. 🤔


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