Grammar and Punctuation Rules

					                                        Grammar & Punctuation Rules
I. Definitions
        A. Subject – the word that a clause/ sentence makes a statement about
                The lawyer had objected to the evidence

         B. Predicate –word/s that make a statement about the subject
                 Complete predicate- main verb + modifiers & complements attached to it
                       a. The lawyer had objected to the evidence
         C. Simple predicate – main verb with its helping verbs
                       a. The lawyer had objected to the evidence
         D. Phrase- group of closely related words that that don‟t contain both a subject and a predicate
                       a. The lawyer in the gray skirt
                       b. Objecting to the evidence
         E. Independent clause –contain both subject and predicate that could stand alone as a complete
                       a. The lawyer in the gray skirt objected to the evidence

         F. Dependant clause- group of words that contain both subject and a predicate , but could not
            stand alone as a complete sentence
                       a. When the lawyer in the gray skirt objected to the evidence
                 Start with subordinating words ( usually)
                       a. Who
                       b. Which
                       c. When
                       d. That
                       e. Since
                       f. Because
                 Dependant clause can act as an adjective/ adverb/ noun
                       a. Adjective describing lawyer
                               o The lawyer who wore the gray skirt objected to the evidence
                       b. Adverb tells when
                               o When she objected , the judge sustained the objection
                       c. Noun tells what
                               o The judge agreed that the evidence was inadmissible

II. Commas
       A. Use comma after a lead in phrase no matter how short the lead in is
               In ……..
               In order to state the rule clearly, the court emphasized the language by using italics
       B. Introductory elements - after these use commas
                     a. Wanting to settle the case quickly, the plaintiff authorized her lawyer to accept
                         any amount over $5000.
       C. When have a coordinating conjunction look after either side, must have independent sentence
          on each side to have comma
               Coordinating conjunctions
                     a. And
                     b. But
                     c. Or
                     d. For
                     e. Nor
                     f. Yet
                     g. So
                    The firefighter‟s rule has been modified over time, and the court has developed
                     exceptions to the rule. ( independent sentence on each side)
                    The court stated the rule but forgot to give examples. ( only one independent sentence so
                     no comma)

          D. Compound subject
                 The widow of the deceased firefighter brought an action against the building owner and
                    against the person who allegedly cause the fire. ( and is not being used as a coordinating
                    conj., here we have a compound subject)
          E. Restrictive and unrestrictive clauses/ essential clauses
                 “ That” – NO comma because it‟ll have an essential clause
                         a. The case that was decided is the newest articulation of the rule
                         b. The rule that was used in the case dates back at least a century
                         c. The case that was decided is the newest articulation of the rule
                                o that
                                o because
                                o before
                                o while
                                o if
                                o when

                    “Which” – not essential/non restrictive: it modifies or describes part of the sentence but
                     is not essential to the meaning – use comma
                         a. She identified the holding of the case, which often times is the most difficult part
                             o the case to understand
                         b. The court stated he was not an invitee, which changed the whole analysis of the
                         c. The house, which was the scene of the accident, did not meet code.

                    No essential clause – don‟t need it to understand the meaning of the sentence , if not
                     essential will need a comma
                         a. Which
                         b. Although
                         c. though

          F. Parenthetical element
                 Is a group of words that can be taken out, don‟t really need it – use comma
                       a. The court‟s decision, after all, was very brief.
                       b. The mayor‟s indictment was, to say the least, unexpected

III. Coordinate adjectives
         A. If you have short elements in a series- Always use commas
                        a. Ex: red, white, and blue
         B. Complicated series : elements of the series have internal elements
                 Use semi-colon to separate two ideas of the series
                        a. The three defendants included Smith, who shot the victim; Beech, who acted as a
                           lookout; and Jones, who drove the getaway ca.

          C. When have 2 adjectives that both modify the noun use a comma between the two adjectives
                “It was a dark, dreary night.”
          D. Use commas to set off Transitional/interrupting words
                              o Therefore
                              o Thus
                              o Furthermore
                              o Moreover
                     b. The conclusion, therefore, is that attorney advertising…….

                    If transitional word is between 2 independent clauses, put semi colon infront and comma
                          a. Attorney advertising is a type of commercial speech; therefore, it deserves only
                              limited protection under the First Amendment

                    Set off terms of direct address with commas
                         a. The defendant asserts, Your Honor, he is innocent

          E. Set off title with commas on either side – non essential
                  Hillary Clinton, Exq., has her law degree

          F. Use commas to set off Dates ,cities , titles , geographic names
                 The court will resume trial on Friday, May 13, 2001, in this courthouse
                 The trial was located in Lansing, Michigan.

IV. Semicolon
        A. Use semicolon to join two independent clauses w/o a conjunction
                     a. The defense counsel objected to the question; she said it called for information
                        protected by the attorney-client privilege.

          B. Use semicolon when two independent clauses are joined by a transitional expression
                 When using: therefore,
                 however,
                 furthermore,
                 thus,
                 indeed
                 in fact
                 as a result
                 for example
                       a. put a semicolon before the transitional word
                       b. put comma after it

          C. Use semicolon to Separate the items in a complicated series

V. Colons
       A. Use a colon to introduce a series
              When using colon to introduce a long series, the things that come after the colon must be
                 able to stand alone as independent clauses
                     a. We must subpoena the following witnesses: Z,W.X
                     b. We must subpoena three witnesses: X,V,Z

                    Do not put colon between a verb and its object or between a preposition and its object
                        a. We must subpoena: Barnes, Cruz…….. ( don‟t do this )
                        b. We must serve subpoena on: Barnes, Q,W
           B. Use a colon to introduce a summary, elaboration or illustration
                         a. The P failed to prove two key elements: negligence and proximate cause
                         b. The damages were staggering: 1K in med bills and 65K in lost wages.

                     Can use it to join two independent clauses if the first one introduces the second , or if the
                      two clauses have a cause and effect relationship
                         a. The DNA evidence is vital: it is out only proof that the D was at the scene
                         b. The gasoline truck hit the wall: the gasoline explosion killed the driver

           C. Use a colon to introduce a long quotation
                         a. She invoked the words of Abe Lincoln: “ llllllll”

 VI. Dashes
         A. To signal an abrupt break
                       a. The judge-bristling with indignation-slammed this gavel.
                       b. We don‟ t need to reach the constitutional issue- that can await another day.

           B. Use instead of comma when you need to set off a lump of material that needs to sit in the middle
              of a sentence because of what it modifies
                         a. The magistrate may rule on any procedural motion- including a motion to
                             suppress evidence and a motion to allow or disallow discovery- at any time
                             following the acceptance of a plea

VII. Parentheses
         A. Use to set off interjected or explanatory material
                  Downplay the info in the parentheses
                  Material in the parentheses should be punctuated as needed

           B. Use to avoid ambiguities
                  No deduction is allowed if the donor retains or transfers an interest ( as defined above) in
                     the property to any person other than donee spouse ( or the estate of the spouse).

           C. To introduce shorthand expressions
                   Universal Communication, Inc. (UCI) developed the transverse uniflex modulator system
                     (“the system”) in 1994.

VIII. Apostrophes
          A. To form possessives
                  of a singular noun – add „s , even if the word ends with an s
                       a. If that will make a triple s sound – use „ only
                               o Susan‟s
                               o James‟s
                               o Jones‟s
                               o Achilles‟
                               o Zacharias‟

                     To make the possessive of a singular noun – add „s , even if the word ends with an s
                   To make the possessive of a plural noun that ends in s sound – use an „ only.
                       a. If plural ends in a different sound use – „s
                              o The women‟s
                              o Joneses‟
                              o Clans‟

                   If more than on owner is listed- decide if ownership is joint of individual
                        a. For joint ownership – form possessive for the last owner listed
                               o Bruce and Tim‟s sailboat ( they own it together)

                       b. For individual ownership – form possessive for each owner listed
                             o Jesse‟s and Uncle Mae‟s computers ( each owns one)

                   For compound expressions – form the possessive with the last element listed
                       a. The P was driving her mother-in-law‟s car
                       b. Your Honors‟ original order required payment of costs. ( several judges entered
                           the order )

                   Never use ‘ for possessive pronouns
                       a. His, hers, its, yours, ours, theirs, whose

         B. Form plural of some terms
                Don‟t use apostrophe in plurals of years
                     a. She got mostly B‟s
                     b. C.P.A.‟s
                     c. The Impressionists

         C. To label items in a series
                 Use „ in contractions and abbreviations – „s stands for omitted letters
                        a. Can‟t
                        b. It‟s
                        c. Wouldn‟t
                        d. Nat‟l
                        e. Ass‟n

IX. Hyphens
        A. When compound term becomes familiar it becomes hyphenated – freeze-dried
              When it becomes commonplace becomes one word – handlebar
              When in doubt ck the term in modern dictionary

         B. Hyphenating compound modifiers
                Hyphen only when the modifier precedes the term modified
                      a. My hard-headed boss
                      b. My boss is hard headed

                   Don‟t hyphenate if the first term is an adverb ending in -ly
                       a. An overly active imagination
                       b. A radically different constitutional analysis

                   Do not hyphenate foreign phrases
                       a. A bona fide purchaser
                       b. An ex post facto law
                   Usually used with prefixes
                       a. Ex –
                       b. Self-
                       c. Quasi-
                       d. All-

                   not used after prefixes : unless the second element is capitalized or the hyphen is needed
                    to avoid confusion
                        a. anti
                        b. co
                        c. de
                        d. inter
                        e. intra
                        f. multi
                        g. non
                        h. para
                        i. pro
                        j. re
                        k. semi
                        l. super
                                o her ex-husband
                                o a self-inflicted wound
                                o a quasi-compound
                                o antitrust law
                                o the anti-Communist forces
                                o her paralegal assistant
                                o his redrafted brief

                   If two or more hyphenated compounds share a common element , the shared element can
                    be used only once
                        a. Long- and short-term budget reductions
                        b. Pre- and post-judgment interest

         C. Use hyphens for compound numbers and fractions
                Use for twenty-one through ninety-nine , even if part of a larger number
                      a. One hundred thirty-eight

         D. Use to divide a word at the end of a line

X. Periods, Question marks, and exclamation points
        A. Use a period to end a declarative sentence, a command or an indirect quotation
                      a. Serve the interrogatories today.
                      b. She asked what day the interrogatory answer was due.

         B. Follow common usage for abbreviations – ck dictionary
                 Q mark to end direct questions
                      a. Is hate speech protected by the First Amendment?
                      b. What would justify a writ of mandamus in this case?
                     Don‟t use quotation at end of a request or a command that is courteously phrased as a
                         a. Will you please have the memorandum to me by tomorrow
                         b. Would counsel kindly take his feet off the table

                     Do not put a question mark at the end of direct question
                         a. The judge asked why our brief exceeded the page limit
                         b. Why, she said, did we file such a long brief.

           C. Use exclamation points rarely
                  In formal legal writing almost never used
                  In office memorandum occasionally used , but based on writers preference

XI. Quotations
        A. Enclose short, direct quotations in quotation mark
                Use (“) to surround direct quotations under 50 words
                For quotes more than 50 words- indent on both left and right , and leave any internal
                  quote marks the way you found them in the original (og)
                Alternate between double and single („) for material quoted within a quotation

           B. Indicate deletions, alterations, and additions to quoted materials
                   [ ] – use around anything you add or change in a quotation , like adding an explanatory
                      word or change plural to a singular or change a letter from upper to lower case
                   (…) – use ellipsis , which is three periods separated by spaces and with a space at each

XII. 2 ways to do quotations:
          A. merging the quote into the sentence and to do this use the word “that”
                   don‟t capitalize the word “the…” because merging the quote into the sentence
                   if the word was caped in the original document you place the [the] in brackets , this
                     shows that the original had the word capitalized
                         a. The jury found that “the defendant is guilty of murder.”
                                o No comma, merged

                     or could do :
                          a. The jury stated, “That defendant is guilty of murder.” - not merged
           B. [sic] – means the og author made a mistake , but you are leaving it in but letting the reader know
              that you know of the mistake but are leaving it in
XIII. Rules about using passive voice
           A. Avoid wide gaps between the subject, the verb, and the object
                         a. The defendant demurred
                                    Subject verb

                          b. The defendant filed six affidavits
                                Subject    verb        object

                      Smaller gaps between subject and verb can be closed by moving the intervening words to
                       the beginning or the end of the sentence:
                           a. This agreement, unless revocation has occurred at an earlier date, shall expire on
                           b. Gap closed: Unless sooner revoked, this agreement expires on X.

                      Smaller gap between verb and object
                         a. Remedy is to make two sentences or
                         b. Move the intervening words to the end of the sentence

                          c. active
                                 o    John kicked the ball
                                 o    Kicks
                                 o    Will kick
                                 o    Has kicked
                                 o    Had kicked
                                 o    Will have kicked

                          d. passive
                                o the ball was kicked by John
                                o is kicked
                                o will be kicked
                                o has been kicked
                                o had been kicked
                                o will have been kicked

                      When to use passive voice
                         a. When thing done is important, and who did it is not
                                 o The subpoena was served on January 19th.

                          b. To place a strong element at the ed of the sentence for emphasis:
                                o The legers were mysteriously destroyed.

                          c. To place a strong element at the end of the sentence for emphasis:
                                o When he walked through the door, the victim was shot

                          d. You can use it when a sense of detached abstraction is appropriate.
                                o In the eyes of the law, all persons are created equal.

                          e. Can use it when you want to muddy waters.
                                o The plaintiff‟s teeth were knocked out.
XIV. Conditions and Exceptions
         A. Usually the end of the sentence is the best place for a condition or exception that is longer than
             the main clause.

            B. The beginning of the sentence is usually the best place if the condition or exception in short, or if
               it needs to be at the beginning.

XV. Place modifying words close to what they modify
         A. Put modifying words as close as you can to the words you want them to modify
                 My client has discussed your proposal to fill the drainage ditch with his partners
         B. Squinting modifier- one that sits in the middle of sentence and can modify either what comes
            before it or follows it
                 Can be cured: either by choosing a word that does not squint or
                 Rearrange the sentence to avoid the ambiguity
                        a. When workers are injured frequently no compensation is paid
                        b. Remedied: Frequently, workers who are injured receive no compensation.

            C. Put only immediately before the word you want it t modify:
                    Ambiguous
                          a. Lessee shall use the vessel only for recreation
                          b. Shares are sold to the public only by the parent corporation

                      Clear
                          a. Lessee must use the vessel for recreation only
                          b. Only the parent corporation sells shares to the public

XVI. Things to check:
          A. Punctuation
          B. Active v passive voice
          C. Danglers and modifiers
          D. Style , word choice
          E. Order, parallelism
                   Clauses that aren‟t structured in the same way
                   The reader can‟t get them

            F. Use base verbs not nominalizations
                   A verb base that has been turned into a noun is called a nominalizations
                         a. Verb base- complain, decide, pay
                         b. Common nominalizations by their endings
                                 o –al
                                 o –ence
                                 o –ancy
                                 o –ity
                                 o –ment
                                 o –ion
                                 o –ency
                                 o –ant
                                 o –ent
                                 o –ance

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Description: This is a more detailed version of my Grammar and Punctuation Rules Outline.