Saturday, October 8, 2016


I guess an 8th grader wrote the editorial appearing in Saturday's New York Times: "The Sleaziness of Donald Trump."

The writer starts a sentence with "Yet,".

I've spent an entire career trying to convince students not to start sentences with "But," "And," "So," --and so on.

These are coordinating conjunctions.  They join sentences.  They get a comma before them, not after.  

The writer of this editorial likes to start sentences with these little words--for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so--the fanboys.  I long ago gave up trying to corral students into using these words where they belong, between two independent clauses.

I draw the line, however, at using them with a comma after them.  That's illiteracy--complete ignorance of how sentences work and how punctuation can be used to communicate clearly.

I object to using commas like tinsel on a Christmas tree--just shake some on to decorate your writing.  

Don't get me wrong.  I'm grateful for the New York Times exposure in recent weeks of Donald Trump's racism in renting apartments and his nonpayment of income taxes, as well as its endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton for president and its decision to comment on Trump's boasted sexual assaults.  

It's just that I expect good writing in the New York Times, and there's nothing that reeks of poor writing like Yet comma.

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