Posted by: atomfullerene | April 10, 2008

Oddities of Grammar

It has recently come to my attention that everything I thought I knew about grammar is wrong. Well, not everything-but I have found out to my complete surprise that not everyone in the world puts two spaces after the period that ends a sentence, and some people don’t put a comma before the final and in a series of three or more words. There are whole sets of the English speaking (or writing) world that think doing these things is ridiculous and I had no idea. It boggles the mind…I wonder what other surprises await me in the great morass of English grammatical rules.


  1. When my uncle was trying to get his book on the geological history of Alabama published, he ran into the same issue. He, like us, was taught that it’s period-space-space, and item-comma-item-comma-and-item. His published disagreed, and he had to go back through his own book, editing nitpicky stuff.

    You’ll notice that I use only a single space after a sentence nowadays, but I still stick with commas between all items in a list. It just reads easier to me.

  2. That comma that some think is superfluous is called the Oxford comma, and I strongly advocate its use. It often clarifies what would otherwise be confusing. There’s even a facebook group dedicated to its preservation.

    And I, like you, still use two spaces at the end of a sentence after the period. I think that one is going by the wayside thanks to new fonts. When all typewriters used what we call courier, each letter took up the same amount of space (e.g., ‘i’ and ‘m’). As fonts have changed, it is less necessary to add the extra space to achieve visual clarity. But, as I said, I’ll continue to do this.

    If you’re wondering who the heck I am, I’m Bill & Rosemary Pryor’s daughter. Your dad performed my wedding ceremony, and I’ve always been a big fan of your family. Your dad’s facebook page directed me to your blog. Beautiful pictures! What an adventure. Wishing you all the best.

    Becky (Pryor) Hancock

  3. Interesting… well, now I know the reason for the oddities. I think I agree with you, Becky and John. I use two spaces out of habit, but the comma just makes sense.

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