cubaville

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How do I correctly puntuate the following sentence?

However, after two previous stints working at restaurants, it was made abundantly clear to me that I could not tolerate yet another three months of asking, “how many in your party?” or, “may I take your order?”.

Many thanks in advance.

Alex
 

custard

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No offense but it's kind of a bad sentence...

1. It was made clear to you? What external source made this clear to you?
2. You're going to have to tolerate worse things... not being able to tolerate 3 more months of serving doesn't reflect well on you.
 

GoldShadow

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I'm pretty sure that since you're not quoting somebody else making some sort of statement, and to maintain the flow of the sentence, it should be like this:

After two previous stints working at restaurants, however, it was made abundantly clear to me that I could not tolerate yet another three months of asking "how many in your party?" or "may I take your order?"

edit: but yes, custard is also right. the whole sentence could use some overhaul
 

Excelsius

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I'm pretty sure that since you're not quoting somebody else making some sort of statement, and to maintain the flow of the sentence, it should be like this:

After two previous stints working at restaurants, however, it was made abundantly clear to me that I could not tolerate yet another three months of asking "how many in your party?" or "may I take your order?"

edit: but yes, custard is also right. the whole sentence could use some overhaul
That's not what he/she's trying to say. There is a sentence that goes before "however." I would suggest that you don't start your sentence with that word. Instead of a period, insert a comma before "however" and write your previous sentence before that comma. Example: "I am not sure about the semantics of your sentence, however, every person has a unique way to express himself."
 

87138

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That's not what he/she's trying to say. There is a sentence that goes before "however." I would suggest that you don't start your sentence with that word. Instead of a period, insert a comma before "however" and write your previous sentence before that comma. Example: "I am not sure about the semantics of your sentence, however, every person has a unique way to express himself."


That is certainly not an improvement. For starters, in your "example" the second comma is extremely unnecessary and interrupts the flow. If you really wanted to improve your example sentence you would take the first comma and turn it into a semi-colon. "I am not sure about the semantics of your sentence; however, every person has a unique way to express his or herself."

Watch out for being comma whores people. It's an easy trap to fall into. More and more these days I see people just randomly throwing them in for no reason at all.

Goldshadow's example is a good one, OP's content notwithstanding.
 

Excelsius

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That is certainly not an improvement. For starters, in your "example" the second comma is extremely unnecessary and interrupts the flow. If you really wanted to improve your example sentence you would take the first comma and turn it into a semi-colon. "I am not sure about the semantics of your sentence; however, every person has a unique way to express his or herself."

Watch out for being comma whores people. It's an easy trap to fall into. More and more these days I see people just randomly throwing them in for no reason at all.

Goldshadow's example is a good one, OP's content notwithstanding.
Just because MS Word uses a semicolon, doesn't mean that there must be a semicolon before every "however." And yes, a semicolon is correct as well. It's a matter of style more.

Well, if you disregard the poster's content, then yes, the above example is correct.
 

87138

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Just because MS Word uses a semicolon, doesn't mean that there must be a semicolon before every "however." And yes, a semicolon is correct as well. It's a matter of style more.

Well, if you disregard the poster's content, then yes, the above example is correct.


I have no idea what you're talking about with MS Word. And no, it's not a matter of style, your example was grammatically incorrect.

You basically have two options. Were you trying to create a pause? Then use a semi-colon. Or remove the second comma. But as it is (simply with two commas) it does not work. Plain as that. They're two independent clauses.

Edit: And I don't want to turn this into an ad hominem argument, but in the the first sentence of the post of yours I'm quoting here your comma is unnecessary and incorrect. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about.
 

Excelsius

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I have no idea what you're talking about with MS Word. And no, it's not a matter of style, your example was grammatically incorrect.

You basically have two options. Were you trying to create a pause? Then use a semi-colon. Or remove the second comma. But as it is (simply with two commas) it does not work. Plain as that. They're two independent clauses.

Edit: And I don't want to turn this into an ad hominem argument, but in the the first sentence of the post of yours I'm quoting here your comma is unnecessary and incorrect. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about.
Actually, you are correct. I haven't been brushing up my grammar in a while, but I just looked it up in perhaps the most authoritative grammar book - The Little, Brown Handbook- and it seems that they only use a semicolon in there. It should be safer to go with a semicolon before "however." I have always been aware of that, but it often seemed a matter of style. You will see both usages in various sources, but a grammar book wins. This reminds me that I should start reviewing that book. I just received it last week.

As for excessive usage of commas, most people have the problem of skipping too many of them. This is why grammar books recommend that when you're in doubt, you should use one (page 432, 10th edition of this book). Just be aware that ".If the dependent clause comes at the end of the sentence, or follows the main clause, no comma is used to set it off.". My problem is that I have read a lot of good books, like Strunk and White, which recommend using a comma for every pause. It's time to do a review and verification.
 

nu2004

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How do I correctly puntuate the following sentence?

However, after two previous stints working at restaurants, it was made abundantly clear to me that I could not tolerate yet another three months of asking, "how many in your party?" or, "may I take your order?".

Many thanks in advance.

Alex
You need to remove the comma after "or" and drop the period:

However, after two previous stints working at restaurants, it was made abundantly clear to me that I could not tolerate yet another three months of asking, "how many in your party?" or "may I take your order?"
The sentence is pretty awkward though. Saying that something occurred "after two previous stints" doesn't make a lot of sense. Perhaps drop the "previous" for clarity.
 

87138

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Actually, you are correct. I haven't been brushing up my grammar in a while, but I just looked it up in perhaps the most authoritative grammar book - The Little, Brown Handbook- and it seems that they only use a semicolon in there. It should be safer to go with a semicolon before "however." I have always been aware of that, but it often seemed a matter of style. You will see both usages in various sources, but a grammar book wins. This reminds me that I should start reviewing that book. I just received it last week.

As for excessive usage of commas, most people have the problem of skipping too many of them. This is why grammar books recommend that when you're in doubt, you should use one (page 432, 10th edition of this book). Just be aware that ".If the dependent clause comes at the end of the sentence, or follows the main clause, no comma is used to set it off.". My problem is that I have read a lot of good books, like Strunk and White, which recommend using a comma for every pause. It's time to do a review and verification.


It's cool, and I appreciate the maturity level with which you handle discourse. I probably came off a tad inflammatory, but either way I know that in many cases this conversation would've turned into some flame war.

Anyway, I think we can all agree that English is a confusing language at times.
 

chad5871

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Anyway, I think we can all agree that English is a confusing language at times.
:thumbup: Isn't English supposed to be one of the hardest languages to learn non-natively?
 

Isoprop

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if you can replace a semicolon with a period, then you can use the semicolon.

I think; therefore, I am.
I think. Therefore, I am.

Either are correct.

edit: this is a rule of thumb. not always true.
 

Isoprop

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haha yes either is singluar
 

Isoprop

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:thumbup: Isn't English supposed to be one of the hardest languages to learn non-natively?

part of the reason is common mistakes become exceptions to the rule:

"drive safe" should be "drive safeLY" but people have said "drive safe" for so long that adjectives can be used as adverbs in short sentences.
 

Excelsius

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That's not the worst. Two of the most misused, abused, and overused words are "hopefully" and "anxious." I am sure many people won't know what I am talking about!
 

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One of the most confusing things in the English language is pronunciation. For example, the word "iron" seems like it would be pronounce "i-ron" and not "i-urn." :confused:
 

custard

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That's not the worst. Two of the most misused, abused, and overused words are "hopefully" and "anxious." I am sure many people won't know what I am talking about!
I get "hopefully", but can you explain "anxious"?
 

87138

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That's not the worst. Two of the most misused, abused, and overused words are "hopefully" and "anxious." I am sure many people won't know what I am talking about!


I submit that "ironic" and "literally" easily surpass your words as two of the most absolutely misused and abused words.
 

87138

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I've even heard literally misused by NPR commentators. It made me cringe because they are well educated professionals.


That's one of the biggest problems with these two words: their misuse permeates society so deeply that they are regularly abused by an astronomical number of people who should know better.
 

decafplease

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How do I correctly puntuate the following sentence?

However, after two previous stints working at restaurants, it was made abundantly clear to me that I could not tolerate yet another three months of asking, “how many in your party?” or, “may I take your order?”.

Many thanks in advance.

Alex
Drop "abundantly." It's either clear or it's not. Also, "yet." Yet another? Don't be too dramatic.

How about, "I realized after _x amount of time_ that I no longer wanted to be a waiter." See how many words and dramatic cues you save? Be stingy with your words! You only have one page! On the subject, have you read The Elements of Style? It is very helpful.
 

GoldShadow

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That's one of the biggest problems with these two words: their misuse permeates society so deeply that they are regularly abused by an astronomical number of people who should know better.
It's literally one of the biggest problems facing society today. Hopefully this problem will be solved in the future. The future sounds so exciting! A world with no grammatical misuse and abuse. I must say, I'm really anxious to see what the future holds, however long it takes.
 

nu2004

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It's literally one of the biggest problems facing society today. Hopefully this problem will be solved in the future. The future sounds so exciting! A world with no grammatical misuse and abuse. I must say, I'm really anxious to see what the future holds, however long it takes.
correct
 

Excelsius

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It's literally one of the biggest problems facing society today. Hopefully this problem will be solved in the future. The future sounds so exciting! A world with no grammatical misuse and abuse. I must say, I'm really anxious to see what the future holds, however long it takes.
Holly crap! You nailed it ALL. Hahahaha. Someone asked above about "anxious." It is misused when it is used to mean "excited." If you're anxious, then you're really afraid.

I submit that "ironic" and "literally" easily surpass your words as two of the most absolutely misused and abused words.
Hmm, I am not sure. I have never heard anyone misuse "ironically," but "literally" yes. Still, the latter is mainly limited to teenagers: "I was literally burning inside." The problem is that if you are going to use the word "figuratively" instead it sort of defeats the purpose of the usage. Sounds somewhat dumb: "I figuratively fried my brains." The answer would be: "Duh!"

If you have any doubts that "hopefully" is the most misused word, check out some grammar books. I have four of them and at least two mention that "hopefully" has been misused so much that it is becoming a common usage! They add: "but you should still probably avoid it."
 

87138

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Hmm, I am not sure. I have never heard anyone misuse "ironically," but "literally" yes.


I hear it all the time. People think "ironic" or "ironically" means "coincidence" or "coincidentally."

Also, although it's probably a regional thing, people in my neck of the woods CONSTANTLY use "ignorant" to mean "rude" or "disrespectful." It's "ironic" because these people are, by definition, ignorant when it comes to the meaning of "ignorant."
 

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Hopefully may be considered frequently misused by former standards, but its use is now accepted. Standards change as common usage changes.

My two pet peeves are the misuse of "literally" and "less". Less people didn't apply two years ago. Fewer people did.

It always bothers me when people say, "I'm good!" in response to a greeting.
 

87138

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Hopefully may be considered frequently misused by former standards, but its use is now accepted. Standards change as common usage changes.

My two pet peeves are the misuse of "literally" and "less". Less people didn't apply two years ago. Fewer people did.

It always bothers me when people say, "I'm good!" in response to a greeting.


The less/fewer thing gets to me too. I think in high school I probably didn't pay much attention to it, but in the past few years the misuse of less/fewer has stuck out like a sore thumb to me. It figuratively sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.
 

Excelsius

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Hopefully may be considered frequently misused by former standards, but its use is now accepted. Standards change as common usage changes.

My two pet peeves are the misuse of "literally" and "less". Less people didn't apply two years ago. Fewer people did.

It always bothers me when people say, "I'm good!" in response to a greeting.
Faux pas! C'mon, Humid. You're a mod! Don't say stuff like that! I can back it up: look at page 872 in The Little, Brown Handbook, 10th edition. It came out a few months ago and it says to not use it. Put another way, if you use it on MCAT you probably are going to have points taken off.

I had no idea "ironically" is used as "coincidentally." It must be very confusing for them.
 

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The less/fewer thing gets to me too. I think in high school I probably didn't pay much attention to it, but in the past few years the misuse of less/fewer has stuck out like a sore thumb to me. It figuratively sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.
I caught that. Nice job. :thumbup: :laugh:
 

HumidBeing

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Faux pas! C'mon, Humid. You're a mod! Don't say stuff like that! I can back it up: look at page 872 in The Little, Brown Handbook, 10th edition. It came out a few months ago and it says to not use it. Put another way, if you use it on MCAT you probably are going to have points taken off.

I had no idea "ironically" is used as "coincidentally." It must be very confusing for them.
In formal writing, it's always safer to avoid recently accepted conventions. "Hopefully", as it is commonly used today, is not acceptable in formal writing, but has become acceptable as in everyday use.

Since when are mods required to be grammar pros, eh? I must have missed that in the job description. :cool:

I've heard people misuse "ironically" by just tossing it into a sentence for no apparent reason, but had never heard of it be used in place of coincidentally, either.

For the past several months, I've been trying to loosen up and write with less formal style. I can already feel this thread setting me back. :oops:
 

tncekm

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No offense but it's kind of a bad sentence...

1. It was made clear to you? What external source made this clear to you?
2. You're going to have to tolerate worse things... not being able to tolerate 3 more months of serving doesn't reflect well on you.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. I think the OP may benefit from reevaluating how he presents that sentence.
 

chad5871

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Since when are mods required to be grammar pros, eh? I must have missed that in the job description. :cool:
I used to pride myself on having excellent grammar and sentence structure, but then I started posting at forums a lot and I realized that my sentence construction skills had grown lazy. As long as I get my point across, I'm happy. :thumbup:
 

Excelsius

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I do that a lot too - sloth, laziness, indolence. Even in e-mails. It's not always possible to keep track of every single rule, but when you do, this forum and e-mails become a great prelude to impeccable grammar. One of my teachers used to recommend keeping a diary and write there regularly. These days forums can serve as a much better alternative. Start at the forum finish in the research paper. I can't believe some of the mistakes I see sometimes in research papers. At least scientists can be excused. I read in one of the books that a few years ago Wharton school ran an add that had screwed up parallel sentence construction. It's always amusing to see non-native English speakers kick the natives' arses.
 

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To the poster who's never heard the word 'ironic' used to mean 'coincidence', have you not heard the Alanis Morisette song of the same name? The song is pretty ironic, as all the ironies she mentions are not irony at all. Isn't it ironic, doncha think?

As far as the clauses go, yes, if joining an independant clause to a follower using however, it should be "; however,". As far as the incorrect word usage goes though, and this probably applies to the discussion of irony above, a certain amount of language evolution is inevitable in society. Always remember, dictionaries exist to follow the language, not the other way around. If society decides that the word "hat" should refer to underwear, and it enters common usage as such, it's going to be changed in the dictionary to reflect that. However, in common writing, it's always a good idea to follow the current convention, not the current fad.

As far as commas go, they are the most overused, punctuation by students, who are in college, like, ever. Apparently these people don't read, what they're writing in their, head, and thus don't realize, that, NO ONE would pause in speech, at those locations in the, sentence. Proofing freshman comp papers, made me lose faith in the future of, humanity,.



My biggest concern for the OP is not the grammar issues, but the content. Are you really trying to describe that some revelation occurred in which you realized that medicine would be more fulfilling than waiting tables. It makes sense to describe such a transition from a career like engineering, law, business, teaching, or whatever, but I think it's pretty much assume that waiting tables is a transition job for most people. An explanation for leaving a job like that isn't usually necessary :)
 

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I shall second MattD's last globule of advice.

Take care of your content first. Do not worry about sounding wise, enlightened, changed, or stereotypical. And by do not worry, I mean don't try to sound like any of those things. There are not many who can pull that sort of thing off.

It is always better to write a humble and sincere statement than something that, while more flashy, is contrived.
 

Excelsius

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To the poster who's never heard the word 'ironic' used to mean 'coincidence', have you not heard the Alanis Morisette song of the same name? The song is pretty ironic, as all the ironies she mentions are not irony at all. Isn't it ironic, doncha think?

As far as the clauses go, yes, if joining an independant clause to a follower using however, it should be "; however,". As far as the incorrect word usage goes though, and this probably applies to the discussion of irony above, a certain amount of language evolution is inevitable in society. Always remember, dictionaries exist to follow the language, not the other way around. If society decides that the word "hat" should refer to underwear, and it enters common usage as such, it's going to be changed in the dictionary to reflect that. However, in common writing, it's always a good idea to follow the current convention, not the current fad.

As far as commas go, they are the most overused, punctuation by students, who are in college, like, ever. Apparently these people don't read, what they're writing in their, head, and thus don't realize, that, NO ONE would pause in speech, at those locations in the, sentence. Proofing freshman comp papers, made me lose faith in the future of, humanity,.



My biggest concern for the OP is not the grammar issues, but the content. Are you really trying to describe that some revelation occurred in which you realized that medicine would be more fulfilling than waiting tables. It makes sense to describe such a transition from a career like engineering, law, business, teaching, or whatever, but I think it's pretty much assume that waiting tables is a transition job for most people. An explanation for leaving a job like that isn't usually necessary :)
As far as definitions go, they do change with time; we are talking about a misused part of speech, however, which cannot be followed by anyone who studies grammar. It becomes confusing for someone following the rules and requires them to disobey them. "Hopefully" is one of those words.

Your, comment about; commas is funny. This is why they say "Use it only where you would pause." Apparently some students take it the wrong way.

This is not the first time I have seen unsuitable semantics. I am beginning to realize that many people are kept out of med school by their statements even if they have very high numbers. For someone to completely change her essay she would have to change her personality (or allow someone else to lambaste her essay beyond recognition). It is probably much more difficult to change your character than it is to change your grades. This is what's going on in the democratic elections now - Clinton has top scores in experience, but there is nothing she can do to beat Obama's charisma.
 

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To the poster who's never heard the word 'ironic' used to mean 'coincidence', have you not heard the Alanis Morisette song of the same name? The song is pretty ironic, as all the ironies she mentions are not irony at all. Isn't it ironic, doncha think?
You amuse me. :)

As far as the clauses go, yes, if joining an independant clause to a follower using however, it should be "; however,".
I'm not a very good grammar *****, but I AM a spelling narc... ;)

As far as commas go, they are the most overused, punctuation by students, who are in college, like, ever. Apparently these people don't read, what they're writing in their, head, and thus don't realize, that, NO ONE would pause in speech, at those locations in the, sentence. Proofing freshman comp papers, made me lose faith in the future of, humanity,.
Hilarious. I felt slightly ill when I read this. Even though I didn't read it aloud, "hearing" it in my head and pausing at awkward times gave me nausea.
 

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However, after two previous stints working at restaurants, it was made abundantly clear to me that I could not tolerate yet another three months of asking, "how many in your party?" or, "may I take your order?".
Sorry, but i have to agree with those who have said that it is a poor sentence. I think the following sounds better :

However, after learning from previous experiences working at restaurants, it became clear that I could not tolerate another three months of asking "how many in your party?" or "may I take your order?".
 

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I hear it all the time. People think "ironic" or "ironically" means "coincidence" or "coincidentally."

Also, although it's probably a regional thing, people in my neck of the woods CONSTANTLY use "ignorant" to mean "rude" or "disrespectful." It's "ironic" because these people are, by definition, ignorant when it comes to the meaning of "ignorant."
Although obviously not the best place to look, dictionary.com does list "coincidental" as one definition of "ironic".
 

chad5871

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Here's a "usage note" found in the "American Heritage" section on dictionary.com:

Usage Note: The words ironic, irony, and ironically are sometimes used of events and circumstances that might better be described as simply "coincidental" or "improbable," in that they suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly. Thus 78 percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of ironically in the sentence In 1969 Susie moved from Ithaca to California where she met her husband-to-be, who, ironically, also came from upstate New York. Some Panelists noted that this particular usage might be acceptable if Susie had in fact moved to California in order to find a husband, in which case the story could be taken as exemplifying the folly of supposing that we can know what fate has in store for us. By contrast, 73 percent accepted the sentence Ironically, even as the government was fulminating against American policy, American jeans and videocassettes were the hottest items in the stalls of the market, where the incongruity can be seen as an example of human inconsistency.
 

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Just a quick suggestion without reading through this entire forum- I would go with only one 'question' and I would use "Would you like fries with that?" over either of those two. Just a personal preference, but I think it's funnier.
 

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Although obviously not the best place to look, dictionary.com does list "coincidental" as one definition of "ironic".
Interesting :) I think Alanis actually used 'ironic' to mean 'unfortunate' though. Still, if enough people wanted to bastardize the definition to mean that, I guess that's where it'll go.. :)

I'm not a very good grammar *****, but I AM a spelling narc... ;)
Eh, it was late, I've noticed lots of spelling errors from last night :) In the interests of full disclosure though, that one always gets me. As does rediculous (ridiculous?) (redonkulus?) :)

As far as definitions go, they do change with time; we are talking about a misused part of speech, however, which cannot be followed by anyone who studies grammar. It becomes confusing for someone following the rules and requires them to disobey them. "Hopefully" is one of those words.
True, and obviously the grammar needs to be held to more strictly than a word's definition.

Your, comment about; commas is funny. This is why they say "Use it only where you would pause." Apparently some students take it the wrong way.
I think lots of kids learn that they should put a comma anywhere they would pause. Unfortunately, they apparently take that to mean anytime they pause in their THINKING while writing, they should type a comma so the word processor knows not to shut down from inactivity. Who knows?

This is not the first time I have seen unsuitable semantics. I am beginning to realize that many people are kept out of med school by their statements even if they have very high numbers. For someone to completely change her essay she would have to change her personality (or allow someone else to lambaste her essay beyond recognition). It is probably much more difficult to change your character than it is to change your grades.

Eh, I doubt bad essays come from bad character so much as they come from plain ole' bad writing. Young people today CANNOT WRITE. The reason?

<rant>None of them have read a book since they outgrew Dick and Jane! You can't just magically learn to write by writing. You learn to write by READING. Young people don't care to read books anymore, hence they can't write, hence they come across as friggin stupid to older people because they don't friggin know how to communicate. It's sad. Read a book guys, and I don't mean a magazine or a mass market paperback candy novel. Read something by someone your lit professors call a 'good writer'. If anybody wants a recommendation feel FREE to PM me with the genres that interest you and I'll send you some good'uns. Please kids, PLEASE, read a book.</rant>
 

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I think lots of kids learn that they should put a comma anywhere they would pause. Unfortunately, they apparently take that to mean anytime they pause in their THINKING while writing, they should type a comma so the word processor knows not to shut down from inactivity. Who knows?


That is precisely the reason I have come up with when trying to figure out why they are so poorly utilized.

Edit: I believe one big reason for the dumbing down of America is the fact that schools are becoming more and more accepting of failure. Push the kids along, and as long as they can remember most of the vowels in their first name and they don't kill anyone, hand them a diploma. A girl I work with is 20, and her fiance of the same age is currently taking classes to become a "licensed" carpenter (or something like that). The catch? HE CANNOT READ. He has to take the courses online, and she has to read the questions and answer choices to him. And yes, he graduated from an area high school.