Saturday, April 29, 2006


The Triangle Grammar Guide has a fine post on the FANBOYS, the coordinating conjunctions For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. This blog is written by Pam Nelson, an experienced journalist for the The NewsObserver of Raleigh, North Carolina. As is clear from the title, she writes about grammar.

A few points that she makes are:
"The words can connect words, phrases or clauses. They are called coordinating conjunctions because they join equal things."

"Newspaper style varies from academic style on commas and items in a series. In newspapers, we drop the comma just before the coordinating conjunction:

Stir in sugar, oil, beaten eggs and vanilla."
"You have probably heard that you should not begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. Piffle! You shouldn't begin every sentence with a conjunction, but you can use the conjunctions sometimes. But don't put a comma after the conjunction."

I found a few things interesting in her discussion of the FANBOYS. I liked that she pointed out how journalistic style is different from academic style. Second, she points out that we can use a coordinating conjunction at the beginning of a sentence. There is no rule that a sentence cannot begin with a coordinating conjunction, but there are some teacher rules that forbid the use of coordinating conjunctions at the beginning of a sentence. Finally, remember the final sentence I quote above:"But don't put a comma after the conjunction."

By the way, for those who do not know, according to Merriam Webster's on line, piffle means "trivial nonsense".


edwardprice6751100186 said...
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Brett said...

Unfortunately, the whole idea of FANBOYS is misguided. See my explanation, here:

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Mrs. A. (English grammar guru) said...

Please be careful when giving grammar lessons because while the author is correct about FANBOYS, the author used a colon (:) incorrectly. In the following example, the author used a colon after a verb. "A few points that she makes are:"

Never, never does a colon follow a verb OR a preposition. Look it up!

Mrs. A. (English grammar guru) said...

Although the author of this page is correct in the usage of FANBOYS, students need to be aware that not all people know 'exceptions' to rules. In the following opening, the author uses the colon (:) incorrectly.

"A few points that she makes are:"

NEVER should a colon follow a verb OR a preposition - NEVER!

John said...

Thank you Mrs. A for catching that misuse of the colon.

KAM said...

I expect to run unopposed as grammar czar, for both my mother and father served in the position.


The air conditioning in the tent was well appreciated, for the day had been long and hot.

A bit formal and literary, but FOR can be used as a conjunction. Your whole argument is flawed all over the case. You are bringing in exceptions as the rule as opposed to sharing exceptions to the rule.

Personally, I think the whole FANBOYS thing is useless, especially when used to teach comma rules, but your overall argument is flawed.

Keith Davis said...

I say more "piffle" is there with the colon correction. If there is no logical reason why it shouldn't be used after a verb or preposition, then I say let logic and style rule the day. John used the colon in a logical way: It prefaced his first comment and allowed him to put an "and" after it, joining the two comments as equally applicable. What I would've changed, actually, is the word "finally" to another "and" to create parallel structure with the things attached to the colon.

Betty Baker said...

Grammar practice should also include exercises in listening comprehension and speaking, not just in reading and writing.

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