Below is my transcription of Miss Penney’s famous P-Rules, which all of us had to memorize. Remember the pop quizzes, which featured questions such as, “What is the seventh word of P4?” And then she would hum the Rule, to give you a jump start!
I don’t care what anyone says. Memorizing these P-Rules and learning how to diagram sentences (both of which she insisted on) have been immense and valued gifts to me throughout my life. Thank you, dear Miss Penney!
(The picture at right is Miss Penney, from the 1964 Broughton yearbook The Latipac. Those of you who didn’t go to Broughton can puzzle on your own about the meaning of that title.)
|P1||Place a comma before a coordinate conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or) when it joins two closely related sentences.|
|P2||Place a semicolon between two closely related sentences not joined by a coordinate conjunction.|
|P3||Place a semicolon before a coordinate conjunction that joins wo closely related sentences, if there is internal punctuation, or if the sentence is very long.|
|P4||Place a comma after an introductory adverbial clause, or a long introductory phrase, or any introductory phrase containing a verb.|
|P5||Commas separate members of a series.|
|P6||Commas set off non-essential (non-restrictive) elements.|
|P7||Commas set off words of direct address.|
|P8||Commas, question marks, or exclamation marks separate words of saying from the words of a direct quotation.|
|P9||Commas follow the salutation of a friendly letter and the complimentary close of any letter; a colon follows the salutation of a business letter.|
|P10||Commas separate and follow items of address or date.|
|P11||Colons come before a formal list, an enumeration, an illustration, and a long quotation.|
|P12||Commas mark the omission of verbs that have already been expressed in preceding clauses.|