You’d think a conversation about grammar would be very boring at a dinner party.
Back in my college professor days, I always made sure to stay far away from the topic at gatherings. Not only because I could geek out for hours on the subject but because parties and sentence diagrams are almost never used in the same phrase.
But something strange would happen when attendees asked me about my profession. They would light up about their favorite books or tell me the story of writing a 'novel' as a child or pontificate about texting and the ruin of the English language.
And then, like clockwork, they would narrow in on their true heart's desire: a lesson on commas or maybe even the semi-colon. I would glance back and forth over my shoulder—I wanted to be invited back after all—before diving into the euphoria that emanates from one of my all-time favorite topics.
I'd explain the imperative of really identifying an independent clause (not...