Should You Invest in the Stock Market?

I haven’t invested in the stock market because of its volatility and because no one I know seems to know what they are doing or have made lots of money doing it. Maybe I’m around the wrong people. I invest in real estate for the reasons listed here. If we look at a graph of house prices in the US, their values have always gone up despite occasional dips. That’s the kind of graph you want to see.

House price index for California from 1975 to 2021

Though you can make a lot of money investing in real estate, you can make even more if you invest early in certain stocks. The problem is in knowing which stocks to invest in.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional stock market investor. At the time of this writing, the only stocks I own are the ones given to me by my employer. This article is just my personal opinion at the time of this writing.

Investing in Index Funds

Warren Buffett, known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” is an American businessman and philanthropist, widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century. He has amassed a personal fortune of more than $60 billion by defying prevailing investment trends. Instead of stock picking, Buffett suggested investing in a low-cost index fund. “I recommend the S&P 500 index fund,” Buffett said, which holds 500 of the largest companies in the U.S., “and have for a long, long time to people.” … “I just think that the best thing to do is buy 90% in S&P 500 index fund.” He specifically identifies Vanguard’s S&P 500 index fund. Vanguard offers both a mutual fund (VFIAX) and ETF (VOO) version of this fund. He recommends the other 10% of the portfolio go to a low-cost index fund that invests in U.S. short-term government bonds. Below are stock charts for VFIAX and VOO.

VFIAX
VOO

As you can see, both have an overall consistent upward trend. If you invested in each one 10 years ago, in 2012, you could have quadrupled your investment. Twelve years ago, one share of each was about $100. And now, each is around $400. But, if you only bought 1 share, then you would have only made $300 in 12 years. What if you invest $10,000 at the time. Then, you would have made $30,000 in 12 years. Or, instead of putting 20% down on a $400K house, you put $100K in one of these funds. Then in 12 years, you would have made $300K. Though that’s not bad, you would make more in real estate, especially if you include rental income, but then again, owning rental properties is not 100% passive. Nevertheless, if you don’t want to or can’t invest in real estate, then investing in one of these funds over the long term appears to be a safe bet.

Stock Picking

If you want to pick stocks, you obviously want to pick ones that have the potential to grow fast. Tech companies seem to get more publicity for many reasons such as everyone’s familiarity with them and their potential to change the way we live. For example, there was a ton of publicity before and during Facebook’s IPO. Everyone knew what Facebook was at the time. Facebook went public on May 18, 2012, and shares closed the first day of trading at $38.23. Now, the value is $228. That’s a 6x increase in 10 years. When you invest in stocks, the general advice is you shouldn’t invest more than you can feel comfortable losing. At the time, I probably wouldn’t have minded losing $1000. Had I invested $1K in FB, the investment would be worth about $6K now (10 years later) for a $5K profit. That’s still a very petty profit. If I had $50K, which is about the cost of a down payment on a $250K house at the time, then the investment would be worth $300K now for a $250K profit. While that is a good profit, there’s no way I would have invested $50K in FB at the time because I would not have felt comfortable losing it all. With real estate investing, however, it’s so much safer and predictable that one need not worry about their losing their investment. Plus, had I invested $50K in real estate instead of FB, I would still have made a profit of $250K or more in the same period.

Following are stock price graphs of some of the biggest and most popular tech companies along with how much you could have made if 10 years ago you had invested $1000 in each.

FACEBOOK (FB)
  • IPO date: May 18, 2012
  • Opening price: $38
  • Price in 2012: ~38
  • Price in 2022: ~ $300
  • Price increase factor: 7.9x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $6900
Microsoft (MSFT)
  • IPO date: March 13, 1986
  • Opening price: $21
  • Price in 2012: ~50
  • Price in 2022: ~ $320
  • Price increase factor: 6.4x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $6400
Apple (AAPL)
  • IPO date: December 12, 1980
  • Opening price: $22
  • Price in 2012: ~25
  • Price in 2022: ~ $155
  • Price increase factor: 6.2x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $6200
Amazon (AMZN)
  • IPO date: May 15, 1997
  • Opening price: $18
  • Price in 2012: ~200
  • Price in 2022: ~ $3200
  • Price increase factor: 16x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $15000
Alphabet (GOOG)
  • IPO date: May 15, 1997
  • Opening price: $18
  • Price in 2012: ~200
  • Price in 2022: ~ $3200
  • Price increase factor: 16x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $15000
Alibaba (BABA)
  • IPO date: Sept. 14, 2014
  • Opening price: $68
  • Price in 2022: ~ $125
  • Price increase factor: 1.8x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $800
Netflix (NFLX)
  • IPO date: May 23, 2002
  • Opening price: $15
  • Price in 2012: ~15
  • Price in 2022: ~ $400
  • Price increase factor: 26x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $25000

Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive technologies also have a large potential for a huge gain. Everyone has heard of Tesla, the automaker that has proven that electric vehicles can replace gas vehicles. Then there’s Bitcoin which revolutionizes money.

Tesla (TSLA)
  • IPO date: June 29, 2010
  • Opening price: $3.84
  • Price in 2012: ~6
  • Price in 2022: ~ $1000
  • Price increase factor: 166x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $165000
Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Price in 2012: ~$320
  • Price in 2022: ~ $43000
  • Price increase factor: 134x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $132000

Conclusion

Based on the analysis above, if you are going to hold on to popular tech stocks for the long term, e.g. 10 years, then you’re probably safe in that you won’t lose money and will likely profit. Of course, how much you profit will depend a lot on how much you invest and luck. One pattern to note is the performance of disruptive tech (electric cars, cryptocurrency) which realized the biggest gains. Considering the above, I think a safe and good investment diversification strategy, if you are comfortable managing rental properties, is

  • 75% real estate
  • 5% S&P 500 index fund – mutual fund (VFIAX) and/or ETF (VOO)
  • 15% disruptive tech
  • 5% big tech

Common English Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes

Source

Table of Contents

Grammar

Punctuation

Mechanics

GRAMMAR

Adjectives

Adjectives are words that describe the qualities or states of being of nouns: enormous, doglike, silly, yellow, fun, fast. They can also describe the quantity of nouns: many, few, millions, eleven.

Often, when adjectives are used together, you should separate them with a comma or conjunction. 

Please use three, white flowers in the arrangement.
Please use three white flowers in the arrangement.
I’m looking for a small good-tempered dog to keep as a pet.
I’m looking for a small, good-tempered dog to keep as a pet.

Coordinate adjectives

Coordinate adjectives should be separated by a comma or the word and. Adjectives are said to be coordinate if they modify the same noun in a sentence.

No one could open the old, silver locket.
Wrong because silver locket forms a unit modified by old.
No one could open the old silver locket.

Adjectives vs. adverbs

I feel badly about what happened.
I feel bad about what happened.

Use adjectives only if they are necessary, e.g.

  • big house vs mansion
  • large crowd vs throng
  • mixed-breed dog vs mutt

Adverbs

An adverb is a word that modifies (describes) a verb (he sings loudly), an adjective (very tall), another adverb (ended too quickly), or even a whole sentence (Fortunately, I had brought an umbrella). Adverbs often end in -ly, but some (such as fast) look exactly the same as their adjective counterparts.

That is a hastily, written note.
That is a hastily-written note.
That is a hastily written note.

Placement of adverbs

Place adverbs as close as possible to the words they are supposed to modify. Incorrect placement can change the meaning of the sentence, especially when it comes to the adverb only.

  • Phillip only fed the cat.
    (The only thing that Phillip did was feed the cat)
  • Phillip fed only the cat.
    (The only thing that Phillip fed was the cat)

Articles

Articles are words that define a noun as specific or unspecific. 

The definite article is the word the. It limits the meaning of a noun to one particular thing, e.g. Please give me the hammer.

The indefinite article takes two forms. It’s the word a when

  • it precedes a word that begins with a consonant.
  • it precedes a word that sounds like it begins with a consonant
She is an United States senator.
She is a United States senator.

It’s the word an when

  • it precedes a word that begins with a vowel
  • if it precedes a word that sounds like it begins with a vowel.
My mother is a honest woman.
My mother is an honest woman.

The indefinite article indicates that a noun refers to a general idea rather than a particular thing, e.g. Please give me a hammer.

The rules above also apply to acronyms and initialisms, e.g. an LCD display, a UK-based company, an HR department, a URL.

Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that link other words, phrases, or clauses together, e.g.

I like cooking and eating, but I don’t like washing dishes afterward. Sophie is clearly exhausted, yet she insists on dancing till dawn.

The most common coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so; you can remember them by using the mnemonic device FANBOYS. Commas are used when a coordinating conjunction is joining two independent clauses.

I’d like pizza or a salad for lunch. We needed a place to concentrate so we packed up our things and went to the library. Jesse didn’t have much money but she got by. (missing necessary commas)
I’d like pizza or a salad for lunch. We needed a place to concentrate, so we packed up our things and went to the library. Jesse didn’t have much money, but she got by.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions join independent and dependent clauses. 

Common subordinating conjunctions are because, since, as, although, though, while, and whereas. Sometimes an adverb, such as until, after, or before can function as a conjunction. If the dependent clause comes first, use a comma before the independent clause.

Before he leaves, make sure his room is clean.
I drank a glass of water because I was thirsty. Because I was thirsty, I drank a glass of water.

Interjections

An interjection is a word that you throw in between sentences or thoughts to express a sudden feeling, e.g. Ouch! Oh my! Wow! Yikes!

Interjections in a Sentence

When used in a sentence, put the interjection inside parentheses or set it off with commas.

I forgot to do the homework assignment oops but my teacher gave me an extra day to finish it.
I forgot to do the homework assignment (oops), but my teacher gave me an extra day to finish it.
Gee I hadn’t thought of that.
Gee, I hadn’t thought of that.

Nouns

A noun is a word that names something, such as a person, place, thing, or idea. 

Proper nouns vs. common nouns

A proper noun is a specific name of a person, place, or thing, and is always capitalized.

Does tina have much homework to do this evening?
Does Tina have much homework to do this evening?
I would like to visit new york.
I would like to visit New York.

A common noun is the generic name of an item in a class or group and is not capitalized unless appearing at the beginning of a sentence or in a title.

Prepositions

Prepositions indicate relationships between other words in a sentence.

Ending a Sentence With a Preposition

You are allowed to end a sentence with a preposition. Not doing so can result in an unnatural sentence.

There’s no one else to hide behind. (Grammatically correct and natural)
There’s no one else behind whom to hide. (Grammatically correct, but unnatural)
Where did you come from? (Grammatically correct and natural)
From where did you come? (Grammatically correct, but unnatural)

It is sometimes more elegant to move a preposition to an earlier spot in a sentence, especially in very serious and formal writing. But if you do move the preposition, remember to delete it from the end.

This is something we must meditate on.
This is something on which we must meditate.
This is something on which we must meditate on.

Unnecessary Prepositions

Where is your brother at?
Where is your brother?
For many people, the reality of an entry into a new area of employment is cause for a host of anxieties.
Changing careers makes many people anxious.
Alex hit the baseball up over the fence.
Alex hit the baseball over the fence.

Pronouns

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns are pronouns that refer to specific individuals and groups, e.g. I/me, She/her, He/him, They/them, We/us, You.

Antecedents

Antecedents are the things that pronouns refer to, e.g. My family tests my patience, but I love them

Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns connect relative clauses to independent clauses. Relative pronouns are that, what, which, who and whom.

  • who refers to people
  • which and that refer to animals or things

Examples

  • The woman who called earlier didn’t leave a message. 
  • All the dogs that got adopted today will be loved. 
  • My carwhich is nearly twenty years old, still runs well.

Who vs. whom—subject and object pronouns

  • who is for the subject of a sentence
  • whom is for the object of a verb or preposition

Examples

  • Who mailed this package?
  • To whom was this package sent?

Demonstrative pronouns

That, this, these, and those.

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are used when you need to refer to a person or thing that doesn’t need to be specifically identified. Some common indefinite pronouns are one, other, none, some, anybody, everybody, and no one

Reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns end in -self or -selves, e.g. myself, themselves.

Example: I saw myself in the mirror.

Using myself when you mean me is a common mistake writers and speakers make. Reflexive pronouns are only correct when the subject and object of a sentence are the same. 

Intensive pronouns

Intensive pronouns look the same as reflexive pronouns, but their purpose is different. Intensive pronouns add emphasis.

Example: told them I could do it myself.

Possessive pronouns

E.g. my, your, our.

Example: I crashed my bike into a telephone pole.

Independent possessive pronouns

E.g. mine, yours, theirs.

Example: She forgot her jacket, so I gave her mine.

Interrogative pronouns

Who, what, which, and whose. 

Example: What is your name? 

Reciprocal pronouns

Each other, one another.

Distributive pronouns

Either, Each, Neither, Any, None

Pronouns and gender identity

The most common gender-neutral pronoun is the singular they. 


PUNCTUATION

Apostrophe

Apostrophes : Contractions and Omissions

A contraction is a shortened form of a word (or group of words) that omits certain letters or sounds, e.g. He would=He’d. I have=I’ve. They are=They’re. You cannot=You can’t.

Less common contractions

  • something -> somethin’
  • ever -> e’er
  • you all -> y’all
  • 1960s -> 60’s

Apostrophes and Possessive Nouns

For most singular nouns, add apostrophe+s:

  • The dog’s leash.
  • The writer’s desk.
  • The planet’s atmosphere

For most plural nouns, add only an apostrophe:

  • The dogs’ leashes (multiple dogs).
  • The writers’ desks (multiple writers).
  • The planets’ atmospheres (multiple planets).

For plural nouns that do not end in s, add apostrophe+s:

  • The children’s toys.
  • The geese’s migration route.

Style guides vary in their recommendations of what to do when you have a singular proper noun that ends in s.

  • Charles Dickens’ novels 
  • Kansas’ main airport
  • Charles Dickens’s novels 
  • Kansas’s main airport

No matter which style guide you use, add only the apostrophe to plural proper nouns that end in s:

  • The Harrises’ house
  • The Smiths’ vacation

How to Write Joint Possession

When one thing belongs to two or more people, make only the final name possessive:

  • Bob and Jim’s bait shop (Bob and Jim co-own the same bait shop)
  • Ryan, Jessica, and Elinor’s parents (All three share the same parents)

When you’re talking about separate things that belong to different people, make all the names possessive:

  • Bob’s and Jim’s bait shops (Bob owns one bait shop and Jim owns a different one) 
  • Ryan’sJessica’s, and Elinor’s parents (Each has a different set of parents)

Apostrophes and Plurals

With very few exceptions, apostrophes do not make nouns plural. The one notable exception to this rule is the plural form of lowercase letters, which are formed with an apostrophe to prevent misreading:

Don’t forget to dot all your is.
Don’t forget to dot all your i’s.

Colon

A colon introduces an element or series of elements that illustrates or amplifies the information that preceded the colon. While a semicolon normally joins two independent clauses to signal a close connection between them, a colon does the job of directing you to the information following it. When a colon appears in a sentence, it usually gives the silent impression of “as follows,” “which is/are,” or “thus.”

  • There are three types of muscle in the body: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal.
  • We have two options here: stay and fight, or run like the wind.
  • He ended with the immortal words of Neil Young: “Rock and Roll can never die.”

Misuse of Colons

The three types of muscle in the body are: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal.
The three types of muscle in the body: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal.
When I graduate, I want to go to: Rome, Israel, and Egypt.
When I graduate, I want to go to Rome, Israel, and Egypt.

Comma

While a period ends a sentence, a comma indicates a smaller break. Some writers think of a comma as a soft pause—a punctuation mark that separates words, clauses, or ideas within a sentence.

Comma with Subjects and Verbs

With few exceptions, a comma should not separate a subject from its verb.

My friend Cleo, is a wonderful singer.
My friend Cleo is a wonderful singer.
The things that cause me joy, may also cause me pain.
The things that cause me joy may also cause me pain.
Navigating through snow, sleet, wind, and darkness, is a miserable way to travel.
Navigating through snow, sleet, wind, and darkness is a miserable way to travel.

Comma Between Two Nouns in a Compound Subject or Object

Don’t separate two nouns that appear together as a compound subject or compound object.

Cleo, and her band will be playing at Dockside Diner next Friday.
Cleo and her band will be playing at Dockside Diner next Friday.
Cleo will wear a sparkly red blazer, and high heels.
Cleo will wear a sparkly red blazer and high heels.

When a subject or object is made up of two items and the second item is parenthetical, you can set off the second item with commas—one before it and one after it. But you don’t need a comma when you’re simply listing two items.

Comma Between Two Verbs in a Compound Predicate

You get a compound predicate when the subject of a sentence is doing more than one thing. In a compound predicate that contains two verbs, don’t separate them with a comma.

Cleo will sing, and play the banjo.
Cleo will sing and play the banjo.
I meant to buy tickets for Cleo’s show, but ran out of time.
I meant to buy tickets for Cleo’s show but ran out of time.

Don’t use a comma in compound predicates unless there is a chance of misreading:

  • Cleo spotted the man who entered the diner, and waved.

In the sentence above, you need the comma to make clear that it was Cleo who waved, not the man.

Comma Splices

When you want to join two independent clauses, you need a conjunction or a semicolon. A comma alone isn’t strong enough to join them. This kind of mistake is called a comma splice.

We were out of milk, I went to the store.
We were out of milk, so I went to the store.
We were out of milk; I went to the store.
We were out of milk. I went to the store.

Comma After Introductory Phrase

A comma normally follows participial phrases that introduce a sentence:

  • Grabbing her umbrella, Kate raced out of the house. Confused by her sister’s sudden change in mood, Jill stayed quiet.

When an adverbial phrase begins a sentence, it’s often followed by a comma but it doesn’t have to be, especially if it’s short. As a rule of thumb, if the phrase is longer than about four words, use the comma. You can also use a comma with a shorter phrase when you want to emphasize it or add a pause for literary effect.

  • After the show, Cleo will be signing autographs.
  • Behind the building there is enough space to park two limousines.
  • Without knowing why, I crossed the room and looked out the window.
  • In 1816 life was very different.
  • Suddenly, an angry black cat sprang from the shadows.

But, if there is a chance of misreading the sentence, use the comma:

Before eating the family said grace.
Before eating, the family said grace.

Comma Within a Comparison

Don’t use a comma before “than” when you’re making a comparison.

This box is lighter, than that box.
This box is lighter than that box.
Hardcover books are more expensive, than paperback books.
Hardcover books are more expensive than paperback books.

Commas with Interrupters or Parenthetical Elements

Interrupters are little thoughts that pop up in the middle of a sentence to show emotion, tone, or emphasis. A parenthetical element is a phrase that adds extra information to the sentence but could be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. Both interrupters and parenthetical elements should be set off with commas.

The weather I was happy to see was beginning to clear.
The weather, I was happy to see, was beginning to clear.
Geoff’s cooking skills if you can call them skills left something to be desired.
Geoff’s cooking skills, if you can call them skills, left something to be desired.
It was sadly the last day of camp.
It was, sadly, the last day of camp.
Mary unlike Anne is very organized.
Mary, unlike Anne, is very organized.

Comma with a Question Tag

A question tag should be preceded by a comma.

  • These willow trees are beautiful, aren’t they?
  • You didn’t actually write a 600-page vampire romance novel, did you?
  • I know, right?

Comma with Direct Address

When addressing another person by name, set off the name with commas.

  • Mom, I can’t find my shoes!
  • Cleo, there’s someone on the phone for you.
  • Hello, Chester.

Comma with an Appositive

An appositive is a word or phrase that refers to the same thing as another noun in the same sentence. Often, the appositive provides additional information about the noun or helps to distinguish it in some way. If you could remove the appositive without changing the meaning of the sentence, it is said to be nonessential and should be set off with commas. If the appositive is necessary, it’s said to be essential and it should not be set off with commas.

Nonessential appositives:

  • My sister, Angela, is a wonderful cook.
  • The painter, one of the city’s most promising young artists, began showing his work in galleries before he was sixteen.
  • Chocolate, my favorite treat, always makes me feel better after a bad day.

Essential appositives:

  • Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven is a classic.
  • Alec Baldwin’s brother Stephen is the most underrated Baldwin.
  • The detective Sherlock Holmes is one of literature’s greatest sleuths.

Commas in Dates

When writing a date in month-day-year format, set off the year with commas.

  • July 4, 1776, was an important day in American history. I was born on Sunday, May 12, 1968.

If you are using the day-month-year format, however, commas are unnecessary.

  • Applications are due by 31 December 2016.

If you are referencing a day of the week and a date, use a comma:

  • On Tuesday, April 13, at three o’clock, there will be a meeting for all staff.
  • Please join us on Saturday, June 14, 2010, for the marriage of Annie and Michael.

When you are referencing only a month and year, you don’t need a comma.

  • The region experienced record rainfall in March 1999.

Comma Between Coordinate Adjectives

When multiple adjectives modify a noun to an equal degree, they are said to be coordinate and should be separated by commas. One way to tell whether the adjectives are coordinate is to try switching the order of them. If the sentence still sounds natural, the adjectives are coordinate.

  • That man is a pompous, self-righteous, annoying idiot.
  • That man is a self-righteous, annoying, pompous idiot.
  • The sweet, scintillating aroma of cinnamon buns filled the kitchen.
  • The scintillating, sweet aroma of cinnamon buns filled the kitchen.

If the adjectives are not coordinate, don’t separate them with a comma.

The adorable, little boy was eating ice cream.
The adorable little boy was eating ice cream.

Comma Before But

Use a comma before the word but if it is joining two independent clauses:

Cleo is a good singer but she’s an even better dancer.
Cleo is a good singer, but she’s an even better dancer.

If but is not joining two independent clauses, leave the comma out.

My teacher is tough, but fair.
My teacher is tough but fair.
Life is, but a dream.
Life is but a dream.

Comma Before And

When you have a list that contains only two items, don’t use a comma before the and.

My dog Charlie is cute, and smart.
My dog Charlie is cute and smart.
Cleo’s favorite activities are singing on stage, and relaxing in the sunshine.
Cleo’s favorite activities are singing on stage and relaxing in the sunshine.

When correcting a comma splice, that is when joining two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction, put the comma before and.

Commas with Lists

When you have a list that contains more than two elements, use commas to separate them.

Julie loves ice cream books and kittens.
Julie loves ice cream, books, and kittens.
Julie loves ice cream, books and kittens.
I cleaned the house and garage, raked the lawn, and took out the garbage.
I cleaned the house and garage, raked the lawn and took out the garbage.

The comma before the and in a list of three or more items is optional. 

Serial Comma (Oxford Comma)

When you are listing three or more items, commas should separate each element of the list. However, the final comma—the one that comes before the and—is optional. This comma is called the serial comma or the Oxford comma.

Mary needs bread, milk, and butter at the grocery store. (With serial comma)
Mary needs bread, milk and butter at the grocery store. (Without serial comma)
I still have to buy a gift, pack the suitcases, and arrange for someone to water the plants while we’re at the wedding. (With serial comma)
I still have to buy a gift, pack the suitcases and arrange for someone to water the plants while we’re at the wedding. (Without serial comma)

Though the serial comma is optional, it is occasionally necessary for clarity.

  • I dedicate this award to my parents, Jane Austen and Albert Einstein.
    (Is the award dedicated to the parents and to Jane and Albert or are Jane and Albert the names of the parents?)
  • I dedicate this award to my parents, Jane Austen, and Albert Einstein.
    (The award is dedicated to the parents and to Jane and Albert)

Comma Separating a Verb and Its Object

Don’t separate a transitive verb from its direct object with a comma.

I’m glad I trained, Charlie not to beg for scraps.
I’m glad I trained Charlie not to beg for scraps.
Mary said, she likes chocolate.
Mary said she likes chocolate.

Comma with Nonrestrictive Clause

A nonrestrictive clause offers extra information about something you have mentioned in a sentence, but the information isn’t essential to identify the thing you’re talking about. Nonrestrictive clauses are usually introduced by which or who and should be set off by commas.

  • Posey’s Cafe, which Chester recommended, is a fantastic restaurant.
  • My wife, whom I love dearly, is a brilliant physicist.

Comma with Restrictive Clauses

A restrictive clause adds necessary information about something you have mentioned in a sentence. Restrictive clauses are often introduced by that or who and should never be set off by commas.

The cafe, that Chester recommended, is a fantastic restaurant.
The cafe that Chester recommended is a fantastic restaurant.

Comma Between Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions that come in pairs (such as either/or, neither/nor, and not only/but also) and connect words or phrases in a sentence to form a complete thought. Typically, commas are unnecessary with correlative conjunctions.

Either the blue shirt, or the red sweater will look good with your jeans.
Either the blue shirt or the red sweater will look good with your jeans.
You can wear a pashmina not only for warmth, but also for fashion.
You can wear a pashmina not only for warmth but also for fashion.

Comma Between Direct Quote and Attributive Tag

An attributive tag is a phrase like “he said” or “she claimed” that identifies the speaker of a quote or piece of dialogue. Attributive tags can come before, after, or even in the middle of a quote. Use commas to separate attributive tags from quotations.

  • The professor remarked, “How attentive you have been today!”
  • “Once you know the solution,” Tiffany said, “the whole problem seems very simple.”
  • “You have ice cream on your nose,” my friend snickered.
  • “When you leave the house,” my mother yelled, “don’t slam the door!”

If a quotation before an attributive tag ends in a question mark or exclamation point, however, there’s no need for a comma.

“You have a spider on your nose!”, my friend yelled.
“You have a spider on your nose!” my friend yelled.
“Where did that spider come from?”, I asked.
“Where did that spider come from?” I asked.

Comma Inside Quotation Marks

In American English, commas always go before closing quotation marks.

  • “Pass me that thesaurus,” said Matthew.
  • “If you knew what was good for you, you’d sit down and finish that essay right now,” my roommate said.
  • “We’re going down to the soup kitchen to help serve dinner,” her mother called.

In British English, however, unquoted punctuation typically follows the quotation marks. If you are writing for a British audience, put the comma after the closing quotation mark. Furthermore, British English tends to use single quotes rather than double quotation marks.

Comma Before Parenthesis

After opening the new cookie tin, (and eating several of the cookies), Chester had a hard time replacing the lid. 
After opening the new cookie tin (and eating several of the cookies,) Chester had a hard time replacing the lid.
After opening the new cookie tin, Chester had a hard time replacing the lid.
After opening the new cookie tin (and eating several of the cookies), Chester had a hard time replacing the lid.

Comma with As Well As

The phrase “as well as” usually doesn’t require commas unless it’s part of a nonrestrictive clause.

  • Please proofread for grammatical mistakes as well as spelling.
  • Spelling mistakes, as well as grammatical errors, are distracting to readers.

Comma with Such As

The phrase “such as” requires commas if it introduces a nonrestrictive clause.

  • Coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce, do not drop their needles in the winter.

If “such as” introduces a restrictive clause, omit the commas.

  • Trees such as pine and spruce do not drop their needles in the winter.

Comma Before Too

Using a comma before “too” is optional. A comma simply adds emphasis.

  • I like bananas too.
  • I too like bananas.
  • I like bananas, too.
  • I, too, like bananas.

Dashes

There are three forms of dashes: em, en, and the double hyphen. The most common types of dashes are the en dash (–) and the em dash (—).

Em Dashes

Em dashes can replace parentheses at the end of a sentence or when multiple commas appear in a parenthetical phrase.

Example

  • After a split second of hesitation, the second baseman leaped for the ball (or, rather, limped for it).
  • After a split second of hesitation, the second baseman leaped for the ball—or, rather, limped for it.

Em dashes can also replace colons.

Example

  • He is afraid of two things: spiders and senior prom.
  • He is afraid of two things—spiders and senior prom.

Writers and transcriptionists replace unknown, censored, or intentionally omitted letters with em dashes. In these cases, em dashes appear in pairs or threesomes.

Example

  • A former employee of the accused company, ———, offered a statement off the record.
  • “H—— are all the same. They cause trouble wherever they go.”
  • Carved into the dresser drawer was a faded inscription: “Made for Kristina, by your de——ted sailor.”

En Dashes

The en dash is often used to indicate spans of time or ranges of numbers. In this context, the dash should be interpreted as meaning either “to” or “through.” 

Example

  • The teacher assigned pages 101–181 for tonight’s reading material.
  • The scheduled window for the cable installation is 1:00–3:00pm.
  • The 2015–2016 fiscal year was the most profitable year for the new business.

The en dash may also be used to indicate a connection between two words.

Example

  • The pro-choice–pro-life argument is always a heated one.
  • The Nobel Prize–winning author will be reading from her book at the library tonight.

Ellipsis

Those three little dots are called an ellipsis (plural: ellipses). You can use an ellipsis to show that you’ve omitted some words, e.g.

  • Hamlet asked whether it was “nobler . . . to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”

You can also use an ellipsis to show a pause in speech or that a sentence trails off. This technique doesn’t belong in formal or academic writing, though. You should only use the ellipsis this way in fiction and informal writing.

  • Andrew, can you, um . . . never mind, I forgot what I was saying. So, do you think we should . . . ?

How Many Dots?

There are 3 dots in an ellipsis. But, if the ellipsis comes immediately after a grammatically complete sentence, that sentence still needs its own period. So you would end up with a period followed by 3 dots. For example:

“Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me John.”

could be shortened to

“Call me Jonah. . . . They called me John.”

Spacing

Whether you put spaces between the dots or not is a matter of style. The Chicago Manual of Style calls for spaces between every ellipsis point. The AP Stylebook says to treat the ellipsis as a three-letter word, with spaces on either side of the ellipsis but no spaces between the dots. For example,

  • Chicago Style: um . . . never mind
  • AP Style: um … never mind

Exclamation Point (or Exclamation Mark)

Exclamation points go at the end of exclamatory sentences. An exclamatory sentence is one that expresses a strong or forceful emotion, such as anger, surprise, or joy.

  • I got a perfect score on the SAT! Get out of my sight!

Occasionally, you might see one at the end of a sentence that is phrased as a question.

  • Careful! That spider is poisonous. Holy cow! How could I have forgotten to pack underwear!

Exclamatory Quotations

Put the exclamation point inside the closing quotation marks if it applies to the words enclosed by the quotation marks.

  • “There’s a spider on my arm!” yelped Jeremy.

If the exclamation point applies to the sentence as a whole, then place it at the very end.

  • And then the paramedics tried to tell Jeremy it was “only a spider”!

Exclamation Points and Parentheses

Put the exclamation point inside the parentheses when it applies to the words inside the parentheses.

  • Jeremy didn’t find out until later what kind of spider it was (a black widow!).

Put the exclamation point outside the parentheses if it applies to the whole sentence.

  • They settled out of court and Jeremy got a million dollars (cash)!

Exclamation marks are considered to be relatively casual, so using them in business or formal academic writing is a no-no. Instead of relying on exclamation points to convey your urgency or excitement, use more vivid vocabulary. Instead of “Make sure you finish this by tomorrow morning!” try “It’s crucial that you finish this before tomorrow morning’s deadline.”

Hyphen

A hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark that’s used to join words or parts of words. It’s not interchangeable with other types of dashes. Use a hyphen in a compound modifier when the modifier comes before the word it’s modifying.

Hyphen with Compound Modifiers: Two-Word Adjectives Before Nouns

A compound modifier is made up of two words that work together to function like one adjective. When you connect words with the hyphen, you make it clear to readers that the words work together as a unit of meaning.

Use a Hyphen in an Noun and an Adjective (Before the Noun They Describe)

NOUN-ADJECTIVE NOUN
This rock-hard cake is absolutely impossible to eat.
We’re looking for a dog-friendly hotel.

Don’t Use a Hyphen in Compound Modifiers That Come After the Noun They Describe

Generally, you need the hyphen only if the two words are functioning together as an adjective before the noun they’re describing. If the noun comes first, leave the hyphen out.

  • This wall is load bearing.
  • It’s impossible to eat this cake because it is rock hard.
  • Is this hotel dog friendly?

Don’t Use a Hyphen in an Adverb and an Adjective (Before the Noun They Describe)

You also don’t need a hyphen when your modifier is made up of an adverb and an adjective.

ADVERB ADJECTIVE NOUN
Do you expect me to believe this clearly-impossible story?
Do you expect me to believe this clearly impossible story?

Use a Hyphen in a Noun or Adjective and a Present Participle (Before the Noun They Describe)

When we combine a noun or adjective and a present participle (a word ending in ‑ing) to form a unit of meaning that describes another word, use a hyphen to make that unit of meaning clear.

NOUN-PRESENT PARTICIPLE NOUN
It’s recommended you don’t take down any load bearing walls when renovating.

In this sentence, it sounds like you shouldn’t take down any load that is holding up a wall. A hyphen should be inserted between load and bearing to make it clear that we’re talking about walls that are bearing a load.
It’s recommended you don’t take down any load-bearing walls when renovating.
ADJECTIVE-PRESENT PARTICIPLE NOUN
There are some beautiful looking flowers in the garden.

Without the hyphen between beautiful and looking, your reader may stumble over the sentence. Perhaps there’s a new type of daisy called the “looking flower”?
There are some beautiful-looking flowers in the garden.

Don’t Use a Hyphen With a Noun or Adjective and a Present Participle (After the Noun They Describe)

Don’t use a hyphen when the modifier comes after the noun it’s describing. Compare the following:

  • Fast-acting medication can be useful when one has a headache.
  • This medication is fast acting.

Don’t Use a Hyphen in an Adverb and a Participle (Before the Noun They Describe)

ADVERB PARTICIPLE NOUN
The room was like a heavily-decorated chocolate box.
The room was like a heavily decorated chocolate box.

Use a Hyphen in a Noun and Past Participle (Before the Noun They Describe)

Compound modifiers that contain a past participle also follow the same rules as any other compound modifier. Use a hyphen when the compound goes before the noun it modifies:

NOUN-PAST PARTICIPLE NOUN
The municipal government is funding a community-based education system.
Wind-powered generators can be excellent sources of electricity.
Many veterinarians find meat-fed cats to be quite healthy.

Don’t Use a Hyphen in a Noun and Past Participle (After the Noun They Describe)

Don’t use a hyphen when the compound comes after the noun it describes. Compare the following:

  • A well-known local singer will perform tonight.
  • The singer performing tonight is well known.

Hyphenated Compound Words

Hyphenated compound words are the ones (obviously) with a hyphen between the words. Over time, many hyphenated compounds become closed compounds—teen-ager became teenager for instance. Check a dictionary if you’re not sure whether to use a hyphen or not. Here are a few examples of common hyphenated compound words:

  • Mother-in-law
  • Master-at-arms
  • Editor-in-chief
  • Ten-year-old
  • Factory-made
  • Twelve-pack

Closed Compound Words

Hyphenated words tend to become closed compounds (single words with no hyphens) over time. Email instead of e-mail, for example, is increasingly common. If you aren’t sure whether a words is a closed compound or a hyphenated one, check your preferred dictionary.

  • Notebook
  • Superman
  • Waistcoat
  • Bookstore
  • Fireman

Open Compound Words

Open compounds are typically made up of two nouns that are used together to represent a single idea. “Open” means that there is a space between the two words and no hyphen. A good dictionary is the best place to check whether a compound is open or not.

  • Living room
  • Real estate
  • Dinner table
  • Coffee mug

Hyphens and Numbers

Numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine should be hyphenated when they’re spelled out.

  • Fifty-six bottles of pop on the wall, fifty-six bottles of pop…
  • No, I won’t party “like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.”
  • I’ve got a hundred twenty-two of these gizmos to sell.

Hyphen in Compound Adjective With Numbers

When numbers are used as the first part of a compound adjective, use a hyphen to connect them to the noun that follows them. This applies whether the number is written in words or in digits.

  • The president of the company gave a 10-minute speech to the Board of Directors.
  • He is knowledgeable in thirteenth-century politics.
  • The boy threw a rock at the second-story window.

However, a hyphen is not required if the number is the second word in the compound adjective.

  • He is a victim of Type 2 diabetes.
  • This elevator doesn’t go down to Basement 3.

Hyphen In Compound Adjective With Fractions

When using a fraction (e.g. half or quarter) as part of a compound adjective, it should be hyphenated so the reader understands which fraction is modifying which noun.

  • I half-wanted to commit a felony.
  • A quarter-million dollars is still a large amount of money.
  • You’ll need one-third of a pound of flour and one egg.
  • That’s a half-baked idea if I ever heard one!

Hyphen With Prefixes: Ex-, Self-, All-

Use a hyphen with the prefix ex- (meaning former).

  • Don’t sit Adam next to Martha! She’s his ex-wife!
  • Though he no longer held an official position, the ex-mayor still attended all the town’s functions.

Use a hyphen with the reflexive prefix self-.

  • Lying on the floor beside the plant he had knocked over and chewed on, the cat looked extremely self-satisfied.
  • Do you want a self-serve or a full-serve gas station?

Make sure you don’t confuse the prefix self- with the noun self.

  • The self serves no other.

When using all as a prefix, add a hyphen.

  • It’s a bad leader who thinks of himself as all-powerful.

Hyphens with High or Low

When using high or low as part of a compound adjective, use a hyphen when the compound comes before the noun it’s modifying. Some examples of compound adjectives using high and low include high-level/low-level and high-impact/low-impact.

  • Low-flying airplanes contribute to the noise pollution in the area.
  • This car runs best on high-octane gasoline.
  • Low-income families often face more stress than their higher-income counterparts.
  • A high-interest savings account is one of the best ways to save money.

Parentheses and Brackets

Parentheses are punctuation marks that are used to set off information within a text or paragraph. They can enclose a single word, a phrase, or even an entire sentence. Typically, the words inside the parentheses provide extra information about something else in the sentence.

  • Curators from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) have announced a new dinosaur exhibit. While walking down the street (paying more attention to her phone than to her feet), Catherine tripped over the curb and sprained her ankle.

Brackets, sometimes called square brackets, are most often used to show that words have been added to a direct quotation. Sometimes, when quoting a person or document, adding a word or two is necessary to provide enough context for the quote to make sense. For example, the original sentence you want to quote might read “We went and had a great time.” Out of context, this sentence doesn’t mean much. But you can add bracketed information to make the context clear.

  • “We went [to the new dinosaur exhibit] and had a great time.”

It’s extremely important to use brackets when you change a direct quote—forgetting to add them results in a misquote.

Parentheses or Brackets With Surrounding Punctuation

Treat parentheses or brackets and the words inside them as separate from the rest of the sentence. Any sentence that contains a parenthetical element should still make sense if the element is removed.

Meena (studied all night for) the grammar test.
Meena studied (all night) for the grammar test.
Meena studied for the grammar test.

Periodsquestion marks, and exclamation points should go before the closing parenthesis or bracket only if they belong to the words inside the parentheses or brackets. If the punctuation belongs to the surrounding sentence, put them outside the parentheses or brackets. Never put a comma immediately before a closing parenthesis.

After dinner (an enormous, healthy salad,) Posey treated herself to ice cream.
After dinner, (an enormous, healthy salad) Posey treated herself to ice cream.
After dinner (an enormous, healthy salad), Posey treated herself to ice cream.

Period

Periods and Quotation Marks 

In American English, the period goes inside the closing quotation mark at the end of a sentence.

  • My mother loved to remind me of the old saying “waste not, want not.” Phillip said, “I can’t remember where I heard about the banjo concert, but I sure want to go.”

Periods and Parentheses

When a complete, independent sentence is entirely enclosed by parentheses, the period goes inside the closing parenthesis.

  • Charlie scarfed up every Cheeto that fell out of the bag. (I wasn’t fast enough to stop him.) At least we won’t have to sweep the floor.

But, if the parenthetical material is nested inside another sentence, the period should go on the outside.

  • Charlie barked wildly when he caught the scent of fresh bacon (his favorite).

Ellipses

An ellipsis (plural: ellipses) looks like three periods in a row with spaces in between them. There are two main uses for ellipses. One is to show that part of a quote has been omitted.

  • Hamlet asked whether it was “nobler . . . to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”

You can also use an ellipsis for literary effect, to represent a dramatic pause or a thought that trails off.

  • The bus was supposed to come at 3:00 so we waited and waited . . . and waited. Wait a minute . . . If you’re not watching Charlie, who is? I guess we could meet you there later. If there’s time . . .

Question Mark

Question Marks and Quotation Marks

Keep the question mark inside the quotation marks if it logically applies to what is enclosed by the quotation marks. You’ll often see this in written dialogue:

  • The chicken asked, “Why is everyone so concerned about where I’m walking?” “What do you have to hide?” asked the nosy reporter.

If the question mark applies to the sentence as a whole instead of to the phrase inside the quotation marks, put it at the very end:

  • Haven’t you ever heard the expression “It’s a free country”?

This holds true even when you have a quotation containing a question:

  • “When I spoke to the chicken, she said ‘Why won’t you leave me alone?’” recalled the reporter.

And for a quoted question containing a quoted statement:

  • “What did the chicken mean,” the reporter wondered, “when she said ‘It’s a free country’?”

When you have a question mark that applies to both the quoted phrase and the rest of the sentence, just use one question mark:

  • Who said “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Question Marks and Parentheses

If a question mark applies to the parenthetical information, place the question mark inside the parentheses:

  • I saw the chicken (or was it the rooster?) crossing the road.
  • The chicken wrote a bestselling memoir called My Road (published abroad as Who Needs a Crosswalk?).

When the question applies to the whole sentence, put it outside the parentheses:

  • Will the chicken cross the road again tomorrow (April 1)?

Quotation Marks and Dialogue

Quotation marks are used to identify words that someone has said or a direct quote from a person in an article or quoting material that was written by someone else.

American vs. British Quotation Marks

American English uses double quotation marks (“ ”) for quotes and reserves single quotation marks (‘ ’) for quotes within quotes. In British English, the convention is the opposite. Another difference is that in American English, periods and commas go before closing quotation marks. In British English, they go after the closing quotation mark. The guidelines below apply to American English.

Dialogue

When writers become confused about quotation marks, it usually has to do with where to put other nearby punctuation. Below is an example of a conversation between two characters, with their dialogue correctly punctuated.

  • Martin said, “I’m going over to Jennifer’s house for a few hours.”
  • “You can’t be serious!” cried Fauntleroy.
  • “Oh, but I am,” Martin replied.
  • “How will you get there?” Fauntleroy asked.
  • “I thought I’d take the bus.”
  • “And,” Fauntleroy continued, “exactly how long is ‘a few hours’?”
  • “Probably two or three.”
  • “Well . . . fine. Tell Jennifer I said hello.”

Non-Dialogue Quotations

The mayor said his two golden retrievers were “the best dogs in the world. I’m not a cat person.”
The mayor said his two golden retrievers were “the best dogs in the world” and added that he was not a cat person.

Scare Quotes

Occasionally, writers enclose certain terms they wish to distance themselves from in quotation marks. 

  • Silicon Valley has fully embraced the “sharing economy.”

Sometimes, scare quotes are needed to indicate that the writer is not talking about something in general, but rather a specific term itself.

  • For too many people, “computer security” is an oxymoron.

Semicolon

Semicolons (;) are as basic as a period stacked on top of a comma.

The most common use of the semicolon is to join two independent clauses without using a conjunction like and. Don’t use a capital letter after a semicolon. A semicolon should be followed by a capital letter only if the word is a proper noun or an acronym.

  • We can go to the museum to do some research; Mondays are pretty quiet there.

You can use a semicolon to join two closely related independent clauses. Let’s put that another way. The group of words that comes before the semicolon should form a complete sentence, the group of words that comes after the semicolon should form a complete sentence, and the two sentences should share a close, logical connection:

  • I ordered a cheeseburger for lunch; life’s too short for counting calories.
  • Money is the root of all evil; I don’t believe the reverse is necessarily true.
  • Martha has gone to the library; Andrew has gone to play soccer.

Notice that the letter following the semicolon is not capitalized. 

Delete the Conjunction When You Use a Semicolon

  • I saw a magnificent albatross, and it was eating a mouse.
  • I saw a magnificent albatross; it was eating a mouse.

Use Semicolons in a Serial List

You can use semicolons to divide the items of a list if the items are long or contain internal punctuation. In these cases, the semicolon helps readers keep track of the divisions between the items.

  • I need the weather statistics for the following cities: London, England; London, Ontario; Paris, France; Paris, Ontario; Perth, Scotland; Perth, Ontario.
  • My plan included taking him to a nice—though not necessarily expensive—dinner; going to the park to look at the stars, which, by the way, are amazing this time of year; and serenading him with my accordion.

Use Semicolons With Conjunctive Adverbs

When you have a conjunctive adverb linking two independent clauses, you should use a semicolon. Some common conjunctive adverbs include moreover, nevertheless, however, otherwise, therefore, then, finally, likewise, and consequently. 

  • I needed to go for a walk and get some fresh air; also, I needed to buy milk.
  • Reports of the damage caused by the hurricane were greatly exaggerated; indeed, the storm was not a “hurricane” at all.
  • The students had been advised against walking alone at night; however, Cathy decided walking wasn’t dangerous if it was early in the evening.
  • I’m not all that fond of the colors of tiger lilies; moreover, they don’t smell very good.

Slashes

There are two types of slashes: a backslash (\) and a forward slash (/). The backslash is used only for computer coding. The forward slash, often simply referred to as a slash, is a punctuation mark used in English.

A Slash to Indicate Or

  • When leaving the classroom, the teacher noticed that a student had left his/her backpack.
  • College freshmen should bring a mattress and/or cot to sleep on during orientation.
  • If/when Mary ever shows up, we can all head out to the party together.
  • Burgers or pizza for dinner? Yeah, either/or is fine with me.

A Slash to Form Abbreviations

Slashes can also be used to form some abbreviations or shortened forms of words or phrases, although these shouldn’t be used in formal writing.

  • w/o = without
  • w/ = with
  • c/o =
  • care of (used when posting a letter or parcel)
  • a/c = air conditioning

A Slash to Indicate Connecting and Conflicting Relationships

Slashes can also be used to note that there is a connection or conflict between two words or phrases in a sentence.

  • The pro-life/pro-choice debate is a hot-button issue for many voters this election.
  • The designer often works in his bonus room/home office.

Space Before and After Slash

When a slash signifies alternatives between only two words, don’t use spaces before or after. 

  • Add chili flakes and/or black pepper to the recipe.

When using slashes to signify alternatives between phrases or multi-word terms or compounds, a space before and after the slash makes text easier to read.

  • World War I / First World War

Abbreviation

An abbreviation, simply put, is a shortened form of a word. Some readers may not know what an abbreviation means. If the abbreviation is obscure or unfamiliar, make sure to explain what it means the first time you use it.

Acronyms and Initialisms

Typically, acronyms and initialisms are written in all capital letters to distinguish them from ordinary words. (When fully spelled out, the words in acronyms and initialisms do not need to be capitalized unless they entail a proper noun.)

An acronym is pronounced as a single word, rather than as a series of letters. 

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration = NASA
  • self contained underwater breathing apparatus = scuba
  • light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation = lase

Initialisms are pronounced as a series of letters.

  • National Football League = NFL (en eff ell)

If you need to use an indefinite article before an acronym or initialism, use the initial sound of the word (not necessarily the initial letter) guide your choice.

Abbreviations for Courtesy Titles and Academic Degrees

Titles such as mister, miss, and doctor, as well as the names of academic degrees such as bachelor of arts and doctor of philosophy are almost always abbreviated. In American English, title abbreviations are followed by a period; in British English, the period is omitted.

  • Mr. = Mister
  • Mrs. = Mistress (pronounced “missus”)
  • Ms. = (pronounced “miss” or “miz”)
  • Sr. = Senior
  • Jr. = Junior
  • Dr. = Doctor
  • Mr. Green asked Ms. Grey if she had met Dr. Jekyl. (American style)
  • Mr Green asked Ms Grey if she had met Dr Jekyl. (British style)

B.S. = Bachelor of science

  • B.A. = Bachelor of Arts
  • M.A. = Master of Arts
  • M.B.A. = Master of Business Administration
  • Ph.D. = Doctor of Philosophy

The periods are optional with abbreviations of academic degrees. Follow whichever style your style guide recommends, or just choose one and use it consistently. When an academic degree is used like a title, it follows a person’s name and is set off by commas:

  • Molly Beagle, Ph.D., runs the canine cognition lab at Stanford University.

Latin Abbreviations

e.g.: exempli gratia It means “for example.” Use e.g. when you want to provide specific examples of a generalization.

  • We expect volunteers from many surrounding cities, (e.g., Springfield, Oakdale, Hogsmeade.)

i.e.: id est It means “that is.” Use i.e. when you want to provide more specific information about something you mentioned.

  • After a reasonable amount of time has passed—i.e. two business days—please report the missing shipment to our customer service department.

etc.: et cetera It means “and so forth.” Use it when you’re providing a partial list of details.

  • You should see the doctor when you have flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, etc.)

Other Common Abbreviations

Below are a few other abbreviations that are common in English. Remember that abbreviations are not always completely standardized. One style guide may advise you to abbreviate Thursday as Thurs. while another may argue for Thu. Likewise, some style guides allow you to omit the periods with these abbreviations, but it’s never wrong to include periods. So if you aren’t sure whether to use the periods, err on the side of leaving them in.

Times and dates

a.m. (ante meridiem) = before noon p.m. (post meridiem) = after noon

  • The mall opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m.

Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, Jun., Jul., Aug., Sep., Oct., Nov., Dec.

  • I was born on Nov. 6, 1980.

Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat,. Sun.

  • The class will run Mon.-Fri. next week.

Places

U.S. (United States) U.K. (United Kingdom) E.U. (European Union) U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates)

  • The U.S. highway system seems enormous to visitors from the U.K.

Units of Measurement

in. (inches) ft. (feet) lbs. (pounds)

mm. (millimeters) cm. (centimeters) m. (meters)

mg. (milligram) g. (gram) kg. (kilogram)

My cat weighs 10 lbs., which is about 4.5 kg.

Spelling Rules

English spelling of some words is wildly different from the way we pronounce them (It’s fuchsia, right? Or is it fuschiaFushia?)

Around Shakespeare’s time, when spelling was first becoming standardized, the spelling of most English words was mostly phonetic—or at least more phonetic than it is today. For example, English speakers did once pronounce the k at the beginning of words like knife and knee. But even though no one has pronounced knee as “kuh-nee” in centuries, we still hang on to the old spelling.

Capitalization

Capitalize the First Word of a Sentence

  • The cat is sleeping.
  • Where did I put that book?

Capitalize Names and Other Proper Nouns

  • My favorite author is Jane Austen.
  • Have you met my dog, Boomer?

Names are proper nouns. The names of cities, countries, companies, religions, and political parties are also proper nouns, so you should capitalize them, too.

  • We experienced some beautiful Southern California weather last fall when we attended a Catholic wedding in San Diego.

You should also capitalize words like mom and grandpa when they are used as a form of address.

  • Just wait until Mom sees this!
  • My mom is not going to like this.

Don’t Capitalize After a Colon (Usually)

  • I have one true passion: wombat racing.

One exception is when the word following the colon is a proper noun.

  • There is only one place I want to visit: New York City.

The other exception is when the words following the colon form one or more complete sentences.

Maggie wears a brimmed cap at all times for these two reasons: Strong light often gives her a headache. She also likes the way it looks.

Capitalize the First Word of a Quote (Sometimes)

Capitalize the first word of a quote when the quote is a complete sentence.

  • Mario asked, “What is everyone doing this weekend?”
  • Stacy answered, “My sister and I are going to the water park.”

Don’t capitalize the first word of partial quotes.

  • Gretchen said she was “way too busy” to join the gym.
  • Mr. Thompson described the rules as “extremely difficult to understand if you don’t have a law degree.”

Capitalize Days, Months, and Holidays, But Not Seasons

The names of days, months, and holidays are proper nouns, so you should capitalize them.

  • I hate Mondays!
  • Tom’s birthday is in June.
  • Oh no! I forgot about Valentine’s Day!

The names of seasons, however, are not proper nouns, so there’s no need to capitalize them.

  • I hate winter!
  • Having a summer birthday is the best.

Capitalize Most Words in Titles

Just use titlecaseconverter.com.

  • Sense and Sensibility is better than Pride and Prejudice.
  • The first movie of the series is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Capitalize Cities, Countries, Nationalities, and Languages

  • English is made up of many languages, including Latin, German, and French.
  • My mother is British, and my father is Dutch.
  • The capital of Botswana is Gaborone.

Capitalize Time Periods and Events (Sometimes)

Specific periods, eras, and historical events that have proper names should be capitalized.

  • Most of the World War I veterans are now deceased.
  • In the Middle Ages, poor hygiene was partly responsible for the spreading of bubonic plague.
  • Middle school students often enjoy studying the social changes that took place during the Roaring Twenties.

However, centuries—and the numbers before them—are not capitalized.

  • In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, England blossomed into an empire.

Compound Words

When adverbs ending in -ly combine with another word, the resulting compound is always spelled as two separate words.

  • largely irrelevant
  • newly formed

There are a great many grammar rules regarding hyphens in compound words. One important rule of thumb to remember is that in most cases, a compound adjective is hyphenated if placed before the noun it modifies, but not if placed after the noun.

  • a long-term solution
  • an up-to-date user guide
  • This is not a good solution for the long term.
  • This user guide is not up to date.

It’s often necessary to consult the dictionary to determine whether these terms should be hyphenated or not.

Online Tools to Improve Your English Writing

As a blogger and a person who works in marketing, I deal with a lot of English text content. Though English is my native language, it is not my specialization, although that is quickly changing the more I read and write. Here are some online tools I’ve found very useful for anyone wanting to improve their writing.

Grammarly

Grammarly can do many things including alerting you to typos, incorrect grammar, wordy phrases, inconsistent spelling, and more. It does this by underlining words in red or blue so you can quickly jump to words or phrases that could be improved. For example, in the screenshot below, the word “effect” is misspelled. On the right, there is an explanation of the typo and a link to learn more. Clicking on the box will fix the typo.

If you double-click on a word, you can get synonyms.

Grammarly has a great handbook in their blog that explains many grammar topics concisely and with good examples.

Note that Grammarly is not perfect and does not replace human review.

Ludwig.guru

Ludwig.guru is the first sentence search engine that helps you write better English by giving you contextualized examples taken from reliable sources.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Ludwig can do many things including

  • Find your sentence in the best contexts
  • Translate in English in the smartest way
  • Get definitions, synonyms and examples
  • Compare the frequency of two sentences
  • Discover the missing word
  • Paraphrase your sentence
  • Compare the frequency of words
  • Order a group of words

WordTune

WordTune helps you rewrite words and sentences. They can be shortened, expanded, and made to sound more casual or formal.

If you highlight a word and click on the WordTune icon, you can get synonyms.

Learn a Language by Watching Movies

One of the best ways to learn a language is by watching movies. But, video players usually only let you show one subtitle language at a time. Also, you can’t easily repeat what was just said or slow down the video when a character may be speaking too quickly. Here’s one way to make it easier to learn a language by watching movies. This example assumes the video is on Netflix.

1. Download the video and subtitles

Let’s say you want to learn Spanish and you speak English. One popular video series is Money Heist. You can download one or all episodes using Flixicam. Flixicam costs XXX. Since the purpose of this activity is to learn a language, you can download the video in the lowest resolution, e.g. 480p, so that the file is too big. Money Heist is at this URL: https://www.netflix.com/watch/80205342. When you play the video, you can click on the subtitles icon to see what subtitle languages are available. Unfortunately, in this case, there aren’t any Spanish subtitles, but you may be able to find Spanish subtitles online.

In this case, you can search online for the Spanish subtitles, e.g. at https://subscene.com/subtitles/la-casa-de-papel.

2. Merge subtitles

When watching a video, it helps to see two subtitles at once – one of the language you are learning and one of the language you understand. You can merge two subtitle files using an online tool.

3. Load video and subtitles in a subtitle editor tool

Subtitle editing tools may be designed to edit subtitles, but they’re also good for learning a language. The one I use is HappyScribe free online subtitle editor because I like the interface.

Just open the editor, upload your video, import the merged subtitle file, and start watching, listening and learning. Click on any subtitle paragraph to jump to the corresponding location in the video. Click on it again to repeat what was just said.

Change the playback speed to slow down the speech, if necessary.

The downside to this particular subtitle editor is it is online which means you have to upload your video which can take quite some time on a slow internet connection. You can also install a subtitle editor program on your computer which would eliminate the need to upload large videos. For example, here’s a simple one for Windows called Open Subtitle Editor.

Another one is Subtitle Edit.

However, with this one, I don’t see an option to change playback speed. If you use this one, you’ll probably want to go to Options > Settings > Double-clicking line in main window list view will “Go to video position and play”.

How to Download Subtitles in Netflix

Note: the tutorial below works using Google Chrome and English subtitles where a user’s language setting in Netflix is set to English. It does not work for other languages like Arabic and Chinese. To download subtitles in those languages, you may need to change your language setting in Netflix.

1. Start playing a Netflix video

This tutorial uses Google Chrome.

2. Open Chrome Inspector

Click CTRL+SHIFT+I to open the Google Chrome Inspector. Click the Network tab. Make sure “All” is selected. Enter “?o=” in the filter field. Make the video window smaller than full screen so you can see both the video window and the Inspector window side by side.

3. Find subtitle file

In the Inspector, sort the files by “Name”. If subtitles are turned on, you will see a filename that begins with “?o=”.

If you don’t see the file, then in the video, click to see the subtitle options and then click on a subtitle, e.g. “English”. You should then see the subtitle file appear in the list of files in the Inspector.

4. Download subtitle file

In the Inspector, right-click on the file and click “Open in a new tab” to download the file. Rename the file to something like english-subtitles.xml.

5. Convert subtitles to SRT format

The XML format of the subtitles may not be user-friendly. You can convert it to SRT format by going to https://gotranscript.com/subtitle-converter where you can convert the format for free.

If you have multiple subtitles, e.g. in different languages, you can merge them using this online tool.

If you’d like to edit subtitles, you can try this free online editor. Some of the nice features are

  • clean user-friendly interface
  • can load a video from a YouTube URL
  • can change video playback speed
  • when you click on a subtitle, the video automatically jumps to the timestamp of that subtitle
  • great for learning a language

Tips for Buying a Car

Car Depreciation

Unlike real estate, which increases in value over time (except occasionally during a recession), cars depreciate in value as soon as you drive them off the dealer lot. According to NerdWallet, your car’s value decreases around 20% to 30% by the end of the first year. From years two to six, depreciation ranges from 15% to 18% per year. As a rule of thumb, in five years, cars lose 60% or more of their initial value.

However, not all vehicles depreciate at the same rate, meaning certain makes or models hold their value better than others. And depreciation rates can also change over time.

A brand-new car will depreciate the most because of the steep first-year drop. Buying a car that is just one year old avoids this first hit from depreciation and saves you a significant amount of money on a nearly new car. And, of course, waiting past the three-year mark could save the owner around half of the car’s original price.

iSeeCars.com analyzed more than 800,000 car sales to identify vehicles from the 2016 model year with the lowest and highest loss in value from MSRP after five years.

5-Year Cost to Own

Even if two vehicles are priced the same, that doesn’t mean they will cost the same over time. For example, fuel costs, maintenance fees and depreciation can vary quite a bit between two vehicles. Knowing the 5-Year Cost to Own ahead of time can help you save money in the long run. On kbb.com you can find the 5-year cost to own a particular car or classes of vehicles.

You can also see the vehicles with the lowest 5-year cost to own by vehicle class. According to kbb.com, Toyota and Lexus are the two brands with the lowest 5-year cost to own.

Buy a Used Car

If new vehicles lose so much value in the first few years, it would make sense then to buy a used car. In this case, you have two options:

Buy a used car from a private party

In this case, the potential to get the best deal is high but you may also end up with a vehicle that has many problems. The seller may lie to you and may not have maintained the vehicle which could result in expensive surprises. You can view a vehicle’s history on CarFax.com to see if it’s been in any accidents, how many owners it’s had, and more.

Buy a certified pre-owned (CPO) car

CPO vehicles are relatively new, low-mileage vehicles that have been inspected and certified by dealers representing the automaker who built them. They come with warranty coverage and other extras you wouldn’t get if you bought a non-certified used car. For pre-owned vehicles to become certified by an automaker, they must be less than five or six years old and have fewer than 60,000 to 80,000 miles on the odometer. These vehicles also undergo multipoint inspections at the dealership. Sometimes, these vehicles were loaner vehicles that the dealer loaned to customers while they wait for their vehicles to be serviced. CPO vehicles, of course, cost more than non-certified used vehicles but they are cheaper than brand new vehicles.

Financing

Most people don’t buy cars cash. Instead, they finance the cost by making monthly payments for 5 years. I was just at a Lexus dealer today and with my 800+ credit score and offer to put $10,000 down on a $42,037 vehicle, I was offered an interest rate of 4.29%.

I then estimated what kind of interest rate I could get from MyAutoLoan.com and got a rate of 2.33%.

To determine the monthly payments and total interest payments, we can use a car payment calculator. At 4.29% over 60 months, my monthly payments would be $594.21 and the total interest paid over 5 years would be $3,615.72.

At 2.33% over 60 months, my monthly payments would be $566.17 and the cost total interest paid would be $1,933.44.

The difference is $1682.28 over 5 years.

Sometimes, dealers have specials where they offer 0% interest. For example, if a new car costs $42000 with 0% interest financing whereas a slightly used certified pre-owned car costs $39000 with 4% interest, you might as well buy the new car because the 4% interest would increase the cost from $39,000 to $42,044.75.

Insurance

Car insurance costs vary depending on many factors. Following are factors that affect car insurance.

Driver’s age

One cost factor is risk. Young drivers below the age of 25 and elderly drivers above the age of 65 are considered high risk drivers. For that reason, car insurance tends to cost more in those age groups. Following is a chart of average insurance costs by driver age.

AgeAnnual Minimum Coverage CostAnnual Full Coverage Cost
20$992 females, $1088 males$2769 females, $3195 males
21$821 females, $882 males$2298 females, $2609 males
22$766 females, $813 males$2152 females, $2378 males
23$709 females, $745 males$2005 females, $2202 males
24$671 females, $698 males$1896 females, $2068 males
25$614 females, $617 males$1719 females, $1801 males
30$572 females, $555 males$1588 females, $1581 males
35$569 females, $548 males$1573 females, $1556 males
40$545 females, $545 males$1544 females, $1529 males
45$560 females, $542 males$1528 females, $1516 males
50$539 females, $531 males$1451 females, $1445 males
55$528 females, $522 males$1421 females, $1419 males
60$529 females, $524 males$1414 females, $1415 males
65$551 females, $549 males$1452 females, $1463 males
70$587 females, $590 males$1527 females, $1546 males
75$651 females, $671 males$1666 females, $1736 males
80$726 females, $770 males$1831 females, $1957 males
Source

Driving record

Understandably, if you have a clean driving record (no accidents, no insurance claims), then you’ll likely pay less for car insurance, and vice verse.

Car make, model and value

The cost of your car is a major factor in the cost to insure it. Other variables include the likelihood of theft, the cost of repairs, its engine size and the overall safety record of the car. Automobiles with high quality safety equipment might qualify for premium discounts.

The Tesla Model 3 is the most expensive popular car to insure. The 2022 Tesla Model 3 starts at a moderately priced $44,990 but at $2,830 a year for full coverage, insurance is significantly more than other popular cars.

Insurance for the Model 3 and other Tesla vehicles is so expensive because as a luxury car, Teslas are more expensive to repair and are a more enticing target for thieves.

Maintenance

Oil change

The cost to change oil can vary quite a bit from one car to another and the cost is usually exorbitant if you change oil at a dealer. For example, the average cost to change oil for a Mercedes S-Class is almost twice that for a Lexus UX SUV.

My 2003 Honda Accord costs even less to change the oil.

Note that some new cars include 3 year / 36,000 mile maintenance.

Manual

Before spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new vehicle, it might be helpful to read the manual first since you can’t return vehicles to the dealer like you can most other purchases. You can find manuals from the manufacturers’ websites.

Warranty

Fixing a car can be very expensive. Having a warranty can save you a ton of money and offer peace of mind. With a warranty, the manufacturer will fix certain things for free during a certain period of time or up to a certain mileage. There are different types of warranties.

Typical warranty

The typical auto warranty coverage is 3-years/36,000 miles — meaning a warranty that covers needed repairs in the first three years you own your car, or for the first 36,000 miles you drive it, whichever comes first. You can estimate how far you drive each year by finding distance from one place to another in Google Maps, e.g. distance from home to work and back 5 days a week.

Comprehensive / Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty

This type of warranty covers everything except wear and tear, damaged caused by you, and normal maintenance.

Powertrain Warranty

This type of warranty covers the mechanical parts that move the car.

Both Hyundai and Kia offer one of the industry’s longest warranties on new cars — a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. However, if the vehicle is sold, only a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty goes to the new owner with the car.

Hybrid Warranty

This type of warranty covers repairs to the battery, electric motor, and other unique components found in an electric or hybrid car. 

Lexus, for example, offers the following warranties.

  • The Basic Warranty coverage is for 48 months or 50,000 miles, whichever occurs first. 
  • The Powertrain Warranty is for 72 months or 70,000 miles, whichever occurs first. 
  • The Lexus Hybrid Warranty coverage is for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first, and covers the following components: Hybrid Battery Control Module (battery voltage sensor), Hybrid Control Module (power management control module), and Inverter with Converter.
  • The Lexus Hybrid Battery Warranty coverage is for ten years or 150,000 miles, whichever occurs first on 2020 and newer models.

Rent Before Buying

Though you can test drive a car at a dealer, that may not be enough for you to really get a good idea of whether the car is right for you or not. To be safe, you can rent the same model of car you are interested in buying. If the vehicle model you are interested in is not available at car rental centers like Hertz, you may be able to find one at a private party via the Turo.com. Of course, you can also borrow a friend’s car if they have the one you are interested in.

Fuel Economy

Some vehicles are gas guzzlers. This can cause you to spend a lot more money than you thought. There are 3 main types of cars: gas only, hybrid gas and electricity, electric only. At FuelEconomy.gov, you can compare up to 4 vehicles for fuel economy.

For example:

2021 hybrid Lexus Crossover SUC2003 gas-only Honda Accord
MPG 25 miles per gallon 42 miles per gallon
Distance on full tank445 miles
Annual Fuel Cost$1,200$2000
Cost to Drive 25 Miles$1.97$3.31

Car Rebates

Sometimes you can get rebates valued at thousands of dollars. Following are some clean vehicle incentive websites.

California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project

Website

EV TypeStandard RebateIncreased Rebate
Fuel cell electric$4,500$2,500
Battery electric$2,000$2,500
Plug-in hybrid $1,000$2,500

For example, you can get a $1000 rebate for the Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid and $2000 + $750 rebate for the Hyundai Ioniq 5 All-Electric SUV.

Federal Tax Credits for New All-Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles

Website

All-electric and plug-in hybrid cars purchased new, not used, in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle.

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the income tax you owe. For example, if you owe $1,000 in federal taxes but are eligible for a $1,000 tax credit, your net liability drops to zero. … Therefore, if your total tax is $400 and claim a $1,000 tax credit, you will receive a $600 refund.

For example, for the Hyundai Ionic All-Electric sedan, you can get a $7500 federal tax credit.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid and the 2022 Lexus NX Plug-In Hybrid qualify for a $7.5K federal tax credit as well.

The 2017–22 Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid qualifies for a $4,502 tax credit.

The process to apply for a tax credit is fairly simple. You first have to buy a vehicle that qualifies, of course. Then you fill out form 8936 along with your tax return. After filing your return, if you look at your IRS tax transcript, which you can download from the IRS website, you will see a section titled “Tax and Credits” with a line item (highlighted below) for “F8936 Electric Motor Vehicle Credit Amount” which should have the dollar amount of the credit available for the EV you buy.

Costco Auto Program

Costco claims to offer its members a discount when buying new and pre-owned vehicles from participating dealers. An Authorized Dealer Contact will present the “Costco Member-Only Price Sheet,” displaying your prearranged pricing. The savings can be displayed in one of two ways: one version lists pricing for all models available at the participating dealership; the other will show a VIN-specific price based on the vehicle you select, including any applicable manufacturer incentives or rebates.

https://www.costcoauto.com/

Car Tires

Tires aren’t like shoes: The bigger the size, the more you pay. According to Discount Tire / America’s Tire, the average prices are as follows.

Wheel SizeAll-SeasonAll-Terrain
Small (12” – 15” wheels).
Compact cars, golf carts, etc.
$80 – $150
Medium (16” – 20” wheels).
Crossovers, SUVs, small trucks, and vans.
$100 – $250$150 – $250

All-Gas vs All-Electric Vehicles

Vehicles are becoming more and more electric. Here are some pros and cons of all-electric vehicles.

ProsCons
You can save a lot of money Electric cars can be pricey 
Electricity is renewable Charging can be a lengthy process
You can reduce your environmental impact You can’t go as far or as long as gas cars 
You can take advantage of tax credits and clean car rebatesFinding a station can be tough 
Less maintenance is required Car insurance premiums may increase 
Better performance 
Drive solo in HOV lane
No oil changes
No smog checks

Note that the Hyundai Ioniq 5 supports ultra-fast charging and can go up to 300 miles on a full charge.

The ultra-fast charging capability gives you over 60 miles of range with just a five- minute charge, or you can charge it from 10 percent to 80 percent in just under 18 minutes. However, ultra-fast chargers are only available at public charging stations.

My Picks

Lexus UX 250h

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Lexus UX250hHyundai Ioniq 5
TypeHybridAll Electric
Transport large itemsYes, it’s a subcompact SUV but trunk is small because the battery is thereYes, it’s a subcompact SUV with large trunk because the battery is in the front
Cost~$38,000~$40,000
CA RebateNoYes, $2000
Fed Tax CreditNoYes, $7500
ChargingNoYes, ultra fast, 5 mins gets you 60 miles
Must change oil, belt, and filterYesNo
Must get smog checkYesNo
Must go to gas stationYesNo, charge at home. Can also charge at public charging station.
Basic Warranty4 years, 50K miles5 years, 60K miles
Powertrain Warranty6 years, 70K miles10 years, 100K miles
Cost to drive 25 miles$1.97$1.01

EV (Electric Vehicle)

EV Battery Size and Range

  • An EV’s range depends on the size of its battery.
  • Gross Capacity—or Total Capacity—is the total amount of energy a pack can theoretically hold.
  • Net Capacity—or Usable Capacity—is the amount of energy the car can actually draw on to move.

You can see a list of EVs sorted by battery size. The average size is 56.3 kWh. The largest is 107.8 kWh (Mercedes EQS AMG 53 4MATIC+). The smallest is 16.7 kWh (Smart EQ forfour).

EV Charging Speed on Level 1, 2, 3 Chargers

Before buying an EV, make sure to research your ability to charge it. Most EV owners install a Level 2 charger in their home which is an added cost. Learn more about EV charging.

Charging LevelPower DeliveryRange Added Per HourTime to Charge 60 kWh EV
Level 11-1.4 kW3-5 miles30-40 hours
Level 23.9-19.2 kW12-80 miles2.5-4.5 hours
Level 324-300 kW75-1,200 miles30-40 minutes
Time to Charge EV with a 60-kWh battery is the time to raise the battery’s charge level from 10% to 80%

The Ioniq 5’s battery pack size is 77.4 kWh, and the maximum continuous draw permitted on a 15A 120V outlet is 12A (incidentally the rate at which Hyundai’s In-Cable Control Box, aka granny charger, tops out in the North American market).

120V * 12A = 1.44 kW, and the charging efficiency lies somewhere between 80 and 90 percent, let’s call it 85. So 77.4 / 1.44 / 0.85 = 63.25 hours, or a bit over 2 days and 15 hours. That said, you’d never use 100% of the battery capacity. If you’re plugging in each night after an average daily commute of 30 miles, you’d be recharged in under 8 hours.

Most EV owners will install a Level 2 charger in their home with between 30 and 40 amp capacity, with 32A being common. Charger efficiency is about 90 per cent at the higher voltage, so 77.4k / (32 * 240) / 0.9 = 11.2 hours from 0 (never drive your EV down to zero!) to 100 per cent.

Browse Level 2 Home Chargers

Screen Capability

So many cars now have touchscreens and the screens are just getting bigger and bigger. Many people use their phones for driving directions, playing music, and more. But, phones screens are small which makes them more difficult to use, especially when driving. Some car screens have maps and driving directions but they’re hard to use and ugly. Tesla car screens have nice maps but Teslas are expensive and you may not want a Tesla. In that case, you may want to get a car that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

For example, here’s how Google Maps looks on Android Auto.

You can find routes, get real-time alerts, view places on the way, reserve parking, find a charging station, and more.

You can also control music using some apps on your phone like Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music.

I personally use the PowerAmp music player. It was upgraded to support Android Auto and the screen looks like this.

Of course, you can all make phone calls and chat as well.

Note that for Android Auto, not all apps are supported.

Features

When considering a new car, there are often more than one trim levels to choose from. Each trim comes with different features. You’ll want to make sure you compare each trim and feature, e.g. does the base model include heated seats, before picking a trim.

SketchUp Tools For Drawing in 3D

The free version of SketchUp offers many tools for drawing in 3D.

Following is a list of them and how to use them.

Select Tool

Select items and objects in the model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an item or object.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Ctrl = Add an item to the selection set.
  • Hold Shift = Add and/or subtract an item to/from the selection set.
  • Hold Shift+Ctrl = Subtract an item from a selection set.

Tips

  • Double-click a face to select the face and all of its edges.
  • Double-click an edge to select the edge and the faces that share it.
  • Triple-click an edge or face to select all connected items.
  • Double-click an object to edit it.
  • Ctrl+A = Select all visible items in the model.
  • Ctrl+T = Deselect all selected items in the model.

Lasso Tool

Make precise selections.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag to draw selection boundary.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Ctrl = Add an item to the selection set.
  • Hold Shift = Add and/or subtract an item to/from the selection set.
  • Hold Shift+Ctrl = Subtract an item from a selection set.

Tips

  • Drag to the right to create a window selection that will capture items entirely within the selection boundary.
  • Drag to the left to create a crossing selection that will capture anything the selection boundary touches.
  • Make single-click selections just like the Select tool.

Eraser Tool

Erase entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on entity to erase. Alternatively, hold down mouse button drag over entities. All entities are erased when mouse button is released.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle soften and smooth edges.
  • Alt = Toggle unsmooth edges and unhide edges and objects.
  • Shift = Toggle hide edges and objects.
  • Ctrl + Shift = Toggle deselect edges and objects selected by the eraser tool.

Paint Bucket Tool

Assign colors and materials to items and objects.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects that you want to paint.
  2. Select a materials library using drop down list in Materials Browser.
  3. Select a material from materials library.
  4. Click on faces to paint.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Sample material for painting.
  • Shift = Toggle paint all faces with matching materials.
  • Ctrl = Toggle paint all connected faces with matching materials.
  • Shift + Ctrl = Toggle paint all faces on the same object with matching materials.

Line Tool

Draw edges or line entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set the first point.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click to set the second point (creating an edge).
  4. (Optional) Move cursor.
  5. (Optional) Click to set a third point.
  6. (Optional) Repeat step 4-5 to create additional connected edges.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Cycle through linear inference options (All On; All Off; Parallel/Perpendicular Only).
  • Hold Shift = Lock Line tool to the current direction inference.
  • Arrow keys = Lock Line tool to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Once you’ve drawn a closed loop of at least 3 coplanar edges, a face will fill in automatically.

Freehand Tool

Create hand-drawn curve entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag to draw a freehand curve.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Decrease the segments of the last drawn freehand curve.
  • Alt = Increase the segments of the last drawn freehand curve.
  • Before an operation, use arrow keys to lock the drawing plane of a curve (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Segments may only be modified immediately after creating a curve.

Arc Tool

Draw Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set arc’s center. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move cursor to define first arc point or enter radius.
  3. Click to set first arc point.
  4. Move cursor around the protractor guide or enter angle.
  5. Click to set second arc point.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click Window > Model Info > Units > Angle Units to change snapping angle.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

2-Point Arc Tool

Draw 2-Point Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set start point of arc.
  2. Click at ending point of arc or enter value.
  3. Click to set bulge distance or enter value to finish arc.

Tool Operation (Tangent Inference locked)

  1. Click to set start point of arc at an existing edge or vertex.
  2. Click an end point for arc, or enter value.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Lock tangent arc drawing.
  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.
  • When multiple edges intersect, define tangency by hovering over one of the edges before starting the arc.

3-Point Arc Tool

Draw 3-Point Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set start point of arc.
  2. Click to set second point. The arc will always go through this point.
  3. Click to finish the arc, or enter an angle to define arc’s section of a circle.

Tool Operation (Tangent Inference locked)

  1. Click to set start point of arc at an existing edge or vertex.
  2. Click an end point for arc, or enter value.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Lock tangent arc drawing.
  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.
  • When multiple edges intersect, define tangency by hovering over one of the edges before starting the arc.

Pie Tool

Draw Pie entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set pie’s center. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move cursor to define first arc point or enter radius.
  3. Click to set first arc point.
  4. Move cursor around the protractor guide or enter angle.
  5. Click to set second arc point.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click Window > Model Info > Units > Angle Units to change snapping angle.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

Rectangle Tool

Draw rectangular face entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set first corner.
  2. Move cursor diagonally.
  3. Click to set second corner.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle drawing from center.
  • Hold Shift = Lock Rectangle to current drawing plane inference.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock drawing plane inference (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When drawing rectangles, you can specify length & width by separating the measurements with a comma. For example: to draw a two foot by four foot rectangle, you can enter 2', 4' into the measurement box. The order of the measurements matches the order of the axes (R, G, B). For example: Red, then Green; Red, then Blue; or Green, then Blue.

Rotated Rectangle Tool

Draw rectangular face entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set first corner. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move your cursor around the protractor to set the direction of the first edge.
  3. Click to set second corner.
  4. Move your cursor to set the length and angle of the second edge.
  5. Click to set third and final corner.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Alt (after 1st click) = Lock drawing plane for first edge.
  • Alt (on a locked plane, after first click) = Set protractor baseline.
  • Alt (after 2nd click) = Set protractor baseline.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Circle Tool

Draw Circle entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set center point.
  2. Move cursor away from center point to define radius.
  3. Click to finish circle.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock surface normal (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

Polygon Tool

Draw Polygon entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set center point.
  2. Move cursor away from center point to define radius.
  3. Click to finish polygon.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Ctrl = Toggle between inscribed and circumscribed radii of polygon.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock surface normal (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

3D Text Tool

Push/Pull Tool

Push and pull face entities to add or subtract volume from your 3D models.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the face that you want to push/pull.
  2. Click on a face to start push/pulling.
  3. Move cursor to push or pull face.
  4. Click to set face or enter distance.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create new starting face.
  • Alt = Toggle Stretch mode.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation and clear selection.
  • When a face is pre-selected, you can click anywhere in the model to begin push/pulling it, and then click anywhere to set it down.
  • Double-click to repeat a Push/Pull distance, in the same direction.

Follow Me Tool

Extrude a face along a path.

Tool Operation (Nothing Pre-selected)

  1. Click the face of the profile that you want to extrude.
  2. Move cursor along the edge or edges that you want the profile to follow.
  3. Click to set the extrusion.

Tool Operation (Preselect Path)

  1. Use the Select tool to pre-select a continuous set of edges to define the path.
  2. (Alternatively) Pre-select a face to define the perimeter of the face as the path.
  3. Activate the Follow Me tool.
  4. Click the face of the profile that you want to extrude.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Use perimeter of face as the path.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Offset Tool

Create copies of lines at a uniform distance from originals.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on a face.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click to finish offset operation.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Toggle allow/trim overlap.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Outer Shell Tool

Combine all selected solid objects into a single solid object and remove interior items.

Tool Operation

  1. Select first solid object.
  2. Select second solid object.
  3. Select next solid object or press Esc to complete.

Move Tool

Move or copy entities, and/or rotate objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an entity or object to pick it up.
  2. Move cursor to move entity or object to a new location.
  3. Click to set it down or enter a distance.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Cycle Move/Copy/Stamp.
  • Alt = Toggle Autofold mode (useful for overriding Move tool constraints); when hovered over an object, use Alt to cycle through grip types.
  • Shift = Lock Move to the current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When items are pre-selected, you can click anywhere in the model to begin moving them, and then click anywhere to set them down. This is an effective way to move things precisely and/or align things to other things.
  • Click the red crosshairs that appear on the bounding box of an object to rotate that object.
  • After moving a copy, you can type a number followed by the X key and then press Enter to create an array of copies.

Rotate Tool

Rotate, stretch, distort, or copy items or objects along a rounded path.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects you want to rotate.
  2. Click on an item or object to both make a selection and set the center point of rotation.
  3. Move cursor to indicate start point of rotation.
  4. Click to set starting point of rotation.
  5. Move cursor to indicate end point of rotation.
  6. Click to complete rotation, or enter angle in degrees.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle rotate a copy.
  • Before first click, hold Shift to lock protractor inference.
  • Before first click, use arrow keys to toggle the protractor inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • After first click, use arrow keys to toggle rotation inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • During Step #2 of the tool operation steps above, you can click-drag the protractor along an edge or axis to set an axis of rotation.
  • After rotating a copy, you can type a number followed by the letter X and then press Enter to create a rotated array of copies.
  • When inputting rotation values into the Measurements box, you can enter either an angle of rotation, in degrees (for example 45 Enter),or a slope expressed as a rise:run architectural slope notation (for example 4:12 Enter).

Scale Tool

Resize or stretch items and objects.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects you want to scale.
  2. Click on a face or object.
  3. Click on a Scale grip.
  4. Move cursor to resize or stretch item or object.
  5. Click to finish scaling item or object.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle scale about center.
  • Shift = Toggle uniform scale.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click a corner grip for 3-way scale. Default = Uniform. Pressing Shift = Non-uniform.
  • Click a midline grip for 2-way scale. Default = Non-uniform. Pressing Shift = Uniform.
  • Click a center grip for 1-way scale. Default = Non-uniform. Pressing Shift = Uniform.
  • When scaling an item or object you have the option to enter either a scale factor (for example 2.5 Enter will make the things you’re scaling 250%, or two and a half times bigger), or you can simply input the size that you want the thing you’re scaling to be (for example, if scaling up along the blue axis direction, 6' Enter will make the selection six feet tall).

Tape Measure Tool

Measure distances, create guide lines, or scale a model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click at starting point of measurement.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click at ending point of measurement.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create guide lines.
  • Hold Shift = Lock Tape Measure to current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock Tape Measure to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • After measuring from point to point, you can input a distance to scale/resize the model.
  • When in Create Guide mode, begin on an edge to create a guide of infinite length; begin on a point to create a guide of finite length.

Dimension Tool

Place Dimension entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click at starting point of dimension.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click at ending point of dimension.
  4. Move cursor to pull out the dimension string.
  5. Click to set the dimension string.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Text Tool

Create Text entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an entity to indicate ending point of leader line (location where leader will point).
  2. Move cursor to position text.
  3. Click to place text.
  4. (Optional) Click in text box.
  5. (Optional) Enter text in text box.
  6. Click outside text box to complete operation.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Section Plane Tool

Create section cuts through your model or objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on a face to create a section plane that is aligned to that face.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift (before 1st click) = Lock section plane to current orientation.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock section plane orientation (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).

Tips

  • It’s possible to activate multiple section planes at the same time, as long as the section planes are in different contexts. For example, you can activate one section plane through the model, and then activate another section plane through a group or component object and have both planes active at the same time.

Protractor Tool

Measure angles and create angled guide line entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Place protractor’s center at vertex of angle.
  2. Click to set vertex. (Alternatively: click and drag first point to set rotation plane.)
  3. Move cursor in circle until touching start of angle.
  4. Click to set start of angle.
  5. Move cursor in circle until touching end of angle.
  6. Click to measure angle.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create guide lines.
  • Before first click, hold Shift to lock protractor inference.
  • Before first click, use arrow keys to toggle the protractor inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • After first click, use arrow keys to toggle rotation inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When inputting rotation values into the Measurements box, you can enter either an angle of rotation, in degrees (for example 45 Enter ), or a slope expressed as a rise:run architectural slope notation (for example 4:12 Enter).

Axes Tool

Move or reorient drawing axes.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set axis origin.
  2. Move cursor to locate direction for the red axis.
  3. Click to set the red axis.
  4. Move cursor to locate direction for the green axis.
  5. Click to set the green axis.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Alternate axis orientation (after clicking to set the origin).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Tag Tool

Apply tags to objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Select a single tag in the Tags panel.
  2. Click on an item or object to assign the selected tag.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Sample the assigned tag from an object or item.
  • Ctrl = Apply a tag to all instances of a component.
  • Shift = Replace the current tag of all items in a given context with the selected tag.

Tips

  • Before tagging edges and faces, consider creating groups or components, and then tag the group or component instead.
  • Use ‘Select > All with Tag’ in the right-click context menu to select all items in a given context that share the same tag.
  • Color by Tag can be a useful way to identify which tags have been assigned to which items.

Walk Tool

Walk through (tour) a model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor: Up = Walk forward; Down = Walk backward; Left = Turn left; Right = Turn right.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Float up instead of forward, or down instead of backward.
  • Hold Ctrl = Run instead of walk.
  • Hold Alt = Walk through things.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • The further you drag the cursor away from the start point (indicated by crosshairs), the faster you’ll walk.

Position Camera Tool

Position camera at a specific eye height.

Tool Operation

  1. Click anywhere in the model to place the camera. The camera will be positioned above the point where you click, at the eye height distance specified in the measurements box.
  2. (Optional) Click and drag from one point in the model to another point in the model to create a target camera. The point you drag from will be the exact location where the camera will be positioned, the point you drag to will establish the camera target.

Look Around Tool

Pivot camera from a stationary point.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor to pivot the camera (i.e. look around in the model).

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Orbit Tool

Orbit camera around model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to orbit the camera.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Pan tool.
  • Hold Ctrl = Suspend gravity (do not try to keep vertical edges up and down).

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Pan Tool

Move camera vertically or horizontally.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to pan the camera.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Zoom Tool

Move camera in or out.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to zoom the camera.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Change field of view degrees.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Zoom Window Tool

Zoom in to a specific area of the model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor across the items in the model that you want to zoom into.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

How to Draw a 3D Closet Frame Using 2×4 Objects in SketchUp

Let’s say you want to make a closet in your garage and you want to create the frame using 2×4 lumber. It’s helpful to draw this in 3D to visualize the design. This post will show you how to do it using the free web version of SketchUp.

Set length units and precision

First, under Model Info, we set the length format and precision. Since a 2×4 piece of wood is actually 1.5″ x 3.5″, let’s set the length and precision to 1/2″.

Create 2×4 objects that represent stock lumber

To simplify creating the closet frame out of 2x4s in 3D, we’ll first create 2×4 objects that are any length, e.g. 12 inches long, along each axis (x, y, and z). To do this, we’ll first create a 2×4 rectangle as follows:

Choose the rectangle tool.

Click and drag anywhere until you see a rectangle.

Before clicking a second time, type “1.5,3.5” (without quotes) to manually specify the dimensions and then hit Enter. What you type will show up in the Dimensions field in the bottom right corner.

You will see the rectangle as shown below.

Now, we want to pull the rectangle to create a 12-inch long object representing a piece of wood. Click the Push / Pull tool.

Zoom in, if necessary. Then, click on the face of the rectangle and drag up. Do not click as doing so will set the length. Instead, type “12” (without quotes) to specify the length in inches to pull the rectangle to create a 12″ long 2×4. Then, hit Enter.

Now that we have one piece of 2×4 in one direction. Let’s copy and paste it twice to create two more pieces in the other two directions. Click the “Select” tool.

Drag a rectangle around the entire object you just created to select all of it. The object will turn blue as shown below.

Click Copy / Ctrl+C and then Paste / Ctrl+V to paste a clone of that object. Do this twice.

Now, select the 2nd object and then click the Rotate tool.

Click somewhere on the object and then click again to start rotating the object. Don’t click a third time since doing so would set the rotation angle. Instead, type “90” (without quotes) to rotate the object by 90 degrees.

Do the same with the 3rd copy of the object but rotate it in a different direction.

Come to think of it, we should make 3 more copies of the object and rotate them so we can have 2x4s in all 6 perpendicular directions. If you’re having a hard time selecting one entire object using the “Select” tool because it’s too close to another object, try using the “Lasso” selection tool.

Now we’ve got our 2×4 building blocks which we can move to the side and clone to create the closet frame. I’ll select all 6 objects and move them as shown below.

Now, we’ll create a closet frame by first cloning one of the building blocks, moving the clone, and pulling it to change its length. I’ll start with the back left corner of the closet frame. When I copied and pasted one of the 2×4 objects, I clicked on the origin to position the object there.

Let’s say we want our closet frame to be 80 inches tall. I’ll switch to the Push / Pull tool, click on the face of the object that I want to pull, drag up, and then type 80 to set the length to 80 inches.

Since we want all corners to be 80 inches tall, we can clone the first 80-inch tall object three more times and position them as far as we want from each other. When you paste a copy of an object, you will see tooltips that help you align the object relative to the axes and to other objects.

Above, we see a copy of the 80-inch tall 2×4 but we don’t know how far it is from the first 80-inch 2×4. Click the Dimensions tool.

Then, click on each of the two endpoints of the distance you want to measure. In this example, the distance is 2′ 8.5″.

Let’s select the 2nd object and then click the Move tool so we can move the object to be 2 feet away from the other object.

Click on one corner / endpoint and then drag such that the distance becomes 2 feet.

When dragging, you’ll see tips such as “On Red Axis” which will help you stay on the same plane and only move in one direction. Below, we now see the distance between both objects is 2 feet.

Repeat the above steps for the remaining parts.

To learn more, including how to move and align objects relatively and absolutely, read my other SketchUp article.

How to Build Muscle

There are 3 main things that affect muscle growth:

  1. food
  2. strength / resistance training
  3. rest

To grow muscle, you need to

  • do strength training to break down muscle
  • have a moderate calorie surplus
  • have sufficient protein consumption (1 gram of protein per pound of body weight)
  • rest to build muscle

If you have a calorie deficit, your body will expend more energy resulting in weight loss in the form of BOTH fat and muscle loss.

If you have an excessive calorie surplus, you will GAIN weight, grow some muscle but also gain a lot of fat.

You build muscle when the amount of protein synthesized into muscle during rest is greater than the amount of muscle protein breakdown during strength training. Without sufficient protein, you will just gain fat and little muscle.

Food

Both creatine and whey protein powder have been shown to increase muscle mass when taken in combination with resistance exercise.

Creatine increases exercise capacity during high-intensity exercise. This leads to improved recovery and adaptations such as increased muscle mass.

Meanwhile, ingesting whey protein in combination with exercise provides your body a high-quality source of protein, enhancing muscle protein synthesis and leading to increased muscle gains over time.

While both creatine and whey protein promote muscle gain, they differ in the ways they work. Creatine increases strength and muscle mass by increasing exercise capacity, whereas whey protein does so by stimulating increased muscle protein synthesis.

Source

Protein

Muscles are made out of protein, among other things. So, you’re going to need to consume enough protein to build muscle. You should target 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. For example, I currently weigh 178 lbs so I should consume 178 grams of protein. Here’s are some protein-rich foods.

FoodQuantityProtein (g)CaloriesProtein / Calorie Ratio
Eggs1 large67811%
Egg White1 large41822%
Almonds1 ounce61643.6%
Chicken Breast1 roasted w/o skin5328418%
Oats1 cup113073.5%
Cottage Cheese1 cup2816317%
Greek Yogurt6 ounces1710017%
Regular Milk1 cup814916%
Soy Milk1 cup6.31056%
Broccoli1 cup chopped3319.6%
Lean Beef3 ounces2518613%
Tuna1 can (142 grams)2712821%
Quinoa1 cup cooked82223.6%
Whey protein concentrate supplement1 scoop (33 g)2513019%
Whey protein isolate supplement1 scoop (33 g)3013023%
Lentils1 cup boiled182308%
Ezekiel Bread1 slice4 805%
Pumpkin Seeds1 ounce91585.6%
Turkey Breast3 ounces2612520%
Shrimp3 ounces208424%
Brussel Sprouts1/2 cup2287%
Peanuts1 ounce71614.3%
Source

Other protein-rich foods

Pistachios, cashews, parmesan cheese, swiss cheese, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, regular full fat yogurt, kefir, soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds.

Consuming a lot of protein without supplements can be difficult because you might feel full before you’ve reached your target daily intake. Also, it can be expensive. For that reason, most bodybuilders take protein supplements. When choosing a protein supplement, it’s important to stay away from ones with a lot of added sugar. The most popular protein supplement is whey protein. To be safe, opt for pure whey protein. I personally get the unflavored Nutricost Whey Protein Concentrate. It contains only one ingredient: Whey protein concentrate. 1 scoop contains 25 g of protein and 130 calories.

You can also buy whey protein isolate which has 90 – 95% protein compared to whey protein concentrate which has 60 – 80% protein. Source

Creatine

Creatine monohydrate is the best-studied and most effective form of this supplement. There are 2 dosing regimens:

Option 1

  1. Loading phase: Take 20-25 grams split into 4 or 5 equal doses over 5-7 days.
  2. Maintenance phase: Then, take 3-5 grams per day to maintain your muscle stores of the compound.

Option 2

Skip the loading phase and start the maintenance phase.

Both options are effective the first option will allow you to experience the benefits 4x faster. Source

I personally take unflavored Nutricost Creatine Monohydrate.

Other Foods

Now, don’t go consuming nothing but protein shakes. They are meant to be supplements and not food substitutes. You can eat whatever else you want but generally, you should avoid processed foods and foods with lots of added sugar. I have personally found the Keto diet (very low carb diet) to be one of the best, if not the best diet. I was able to lose 20 lbs following the Keto diet. It’s not just good for losing weight but it’s also good for overall healthy eating.

Calories

While you can build muscle in a calorie deficit (losing weight), it will be quicker to build muscle by having a moderate calorie surplus. In order to determine how many calories is “moderate”, you first need to know your maintenance calories – the number of calories to consume each day to neither lose nor gain weight.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

BMR is the number of calories needed to maintain the basic life-sustaining functions, such as breathing, maintaining blood pressure, and digesting food. One popular formula for calculating BMR is the Harris-Benedict formula. According to this formula:

  • BMR for males = 66 + (6.23 × weight in pounds) + (12.7 × height in inches) − (6.8 × age in years)
  • BMR for females = 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

In my case, my BMR is 1770 calories.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

TDEE is the total number of calories you burn including your BMR. Your TDEE equals your maintenance calories. 

  • TDEE = 1.2 × BMR if you have a sedentary lifestyle (little to no exercise and work a desk job)
  • TDEE = 1.375 × BMR if you have a lightly active lifestyle (light exercise 1-3 days per week)
  • TDEE = 1.55 × BMR if you have a moderately active lifestyle (moderate exercise 3-5 days per week)
  • TDEE = 1.725 × BMR if you have a very active lifestyle (heavy exercise 6-7 days per week)
  • TDEE = 1.9 × BMR if you have an extremely active lifestyle (strenuous training 2 times a day)

For me, since I do heavy exercise 4 days a week, my TDEE multiplication factor would be between 1.55 and 1.725. I’ll estimate it at 1.64. Therefore, my TDEE or maintenance calories is 1.64 x 1770 = 2902.8.

Moderate Calorie Surplus

Since newbies can gain up to 2 lbs of muscle per month, that translates to 2/30 = 0.06 lbs of muscle per day. According to the American Heart Association, you need to eat 500 calories more than your maintenance calories a day to gain 1 pound of weight a week (0.14 lbs per day). Therefore, to gain 0.06 lbs of muscle per day, you need a calorie surplus of 214 calories per day.

Therefore, moderate calorie surplus = TDEE + 214.

For me, I should consume 2902 + 214 = 3116 calories per day.

Example Meal Plan

Here’s my daily meal plan.

Breakfast

  • 4 eggs in a bowl microwaved for 2 minutes
  • 1 cup of Nespresso coffee with frothed milk, 1/4 teaspoon of Truvia sugar substitute (erithrytol + Stevia extra), and cinnamon

Lunch

Protein shake containing

Dinner

5 air-fried skinless chicken legs (60 g protein, 380 calories) with one Anaheim pepper

Post-Dinner Drink

Another protein smoothie but substitute the Acai with 3 or 4 frozen strawberries

Post-Workout Drink

Chocolate-flavored Premier 30g Protein Drink (30 g protein, 160 calorie)

Total Daily Protein and Calorie Consumption

FoodQuantityProtein (gr)Calories
Eggs424300
Protein shake148544
Chicken drumsticks560380
Protein shake148544
Protein drink130160
Snacks (nuts)?
Total2101928

Without eating snacks, my total daily calorie intake is 1928 which is about 1000 calories less than my target. Hopefully my eating snacks can amount to an extra 1000 calories. At least it’s a lot easier to increase calorie intake rather than to limit it.

Superfoods

Note that some of the foods listed above are superfoods. Here’s a list of superfoods:

  • Dark leafy greems (Kale, Swiss chard, Collard greens, Turnip greens, Spinach)
  • Berries (Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Cranberries, Acai berries)
  • Green tea and matcha
  • Eggs
  • Legumes (lentils, peas, peanuts, alfalfa)
  • Nuts (Almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts)
  • Seeds (Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds)
  • Kefir (and yogurt)
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric (Curcumin)
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Potato
  • Mushrooms
  • Seaweed

Source

Strength / Resistance Training

Muscle size increases when a person continually challenges the muscles to deal with higher levels of resistance or weight. This process is known as muscle hypertrophy.

Muscle hypertrophy occurs when the fibers of the muscles sustain damage or injury. The body repairs damaged fibers by fusing them, which increases the mass and size of the muscles. This increase, however, does not happen while you actually lift the weights. Instead, it occurs while you rest.

You need to be consistent and lift progressively heavier weights. To do this, you should keep track of your efforts. Personally, I log my workouts using the free version of the FitNotes app.

Sets and reps

A standard way of exercising each muscle is by grouping each exercise into 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps (repetitions). For example, if you bench press, you can choose a weight such that for the first set, you lift X lbs until you reach failure (can no longer lift / perform a complete cycle) after the 12th rep. Then, for the 2nd set, you do the same until your failure is maybe at the 10th rep. And for the 3rd set, you fail maybe at 8 reps.

SetWeightReps
1100 lbs12
2100 lbs10
3100 lbs8

Note that more important than the number of reps is the effort to lift until failure. If, after a while, you feel that you can do more than 12 reps at X lbs for the first set, then you need to increase the weight and continue to lift until failure, regardless of the exact number of reps you can do. This is called “progressive overloading.”

Let me repeat that. Train until failure such that you can barely complete your last rep with proper form. The last 2 to 3 reps before failure are the ones that count towards building muscle.

Breathing

You might be tempted to hold your breath while you’re lifting weights. Don’t hold your breath. Instead, breathe out as you lift the weight and breathe in as you lower the weight. Lowering weight requires less exertion, which makes it an ideal time to inhale. By breathing correctly, you’ll be able to lift more and limit fainting and injury.

Muscles

Here’s a diagram of some of the more obvious muscles that you’ll want to target when lifting weights.

Exercises

There are many types of strength training exercises you can do among free weights and machines. I personally prefer using machines as they are more comfortable and help you perform exercises using proper form and reduce the chance of injury. However, some exercises produce better results when using free weights, e.g. dumbbell or barbell chest press instead of a chest press machine. Here are some of the upper body exercises I prefer.

Exercise Database

Fatigue

When you start a workout, your muscles will have rested and you will be able to lift the most weight for any given exercise. As you progress through your workout, you will have less strength when performing other exercises. For that reason, it’s good to be selective in the order of the exercises you perform. For example, I would do 10 or so different exercises in the following order:

OrderExerciseMuscles Targeted
1V-Bar Tricep PushdownTriceps (Tris)
2Dumbbell chest press (flat)Chest
3Dumbbell chest press (30° incline)Upper chest
4Hammer Strength MTS Shoulder PressShoulders
5Biceps Curl MachineBiceps (Bis)
6Plank exerciseAbs, Core
7Lat PulldownBiceps and Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
8Triceps PressShoulders and Triceps
9Lat RowLats, Delts and Back
10V-Bar Tricep PushdownTriceps (Tris)
11Row MachineLats, Delts and Back
12Biceps Curl MachineBiceps (Bis)

Each exercise, except the plank, is done with 3 sets. This sequence takes about 1.5 hours and I burn on average 500 calories.

Muscles by Volume

Many men generally want a bigger upper body. Oftentimes, they’ll focus exercises on 2 muscles: chest and biceps. However, to have a larger upper body, they may be better off targeting larger muscles. Following is a list of the 10 largest muscles in the body.

MuscleLocationVolume
Quadriceps femorisLower thigh1,420 cm3
Gluteus maximusBack of pelvis760 cm3
DeltoidShoulder380 cm3
Triceps BrachiiBack upper arm370 cm3
IliopsoasHips350 cm3
Pectoralis majorChest290 cm3
Biceps femorisTop of the thigh269 cm3
Latissimus DorsiMid back262 cm3
Biceps BrachiiFront upper arm143 cm3
SartoriusUpper and inner thigh126 cm3
Source

Muscle Gain By Weight

The longer your lift weights, the harder it becomes to grow more muscle. Following are average muscle weight gains for men and women at different stages of resistance training.

StageMenWomen
Newbie1.5 lbs / month0.5 lbs / month
Intermediate0.5 lbs / month 0.3 – 0.4 lbs / month
Advanced0.25 lbs / month 0.1 – 0.2 lbs / month
Source
Year of Proper TrainingPotential Rate of Muscle Gain Per Year
120-25 lbs (2 lbs / month)
210-12 lbs (1 lb / month)
35-6 lbs (0.5 lbs / month)
4+2-3 lbs (not worth calculating)
Source

You may have heard that muscle weighs more than fat. However, according to science, a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same. The difference between the two is density.

Rest

In order for your muscles to grow, you need to have sufficient rest. Make sure to sleep enough, e.g. 8 hours a day. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually build muscle while you’re lifting weights. You do need to lift weights to add mass, but training actually causes muscle breakdown.

How to Tell if You’re Gaining Muscle

  1. You’re Gaining Weight
    Track your weight at the same time each day and plot it on a chart to see your long term progress. 
  2. Your Clothes Fit Differently
    Getting jacked will often mean your clothes start to fit differently – usually in a good way. If you’re noticing your shirts are fitting a bit tighter around your shoulders, chest, and biceps, or your pants are getting snug in the thigh and hip area, these tend to be good signs you’re gaining healthy weight. 
  3. You’re Building Strength
    If you can lift heavier weights, then you are probably building muscle. Track your strength using a log and practice progressive overloading. 
  4. You’re Muscles Are Looking “Swole”
    Feeling puffier or bigger is normal and likely a good sign you’re growing your muscle fibers. Lifting weights increases fluids to your muscle giving you that post weight training pump, especially when you are just getting started with strength training. Over time, some of the water retention may diminish but you should continue to feel bulkier. 
  5. Daily or Weekly Progress Photos
    Stand in front of a mirror and take a full body photo. Repeat and assess your visual transformation regularly.
  6. Your Body Composition Has Changed
    Ultimately, the most efficient way to measure your muscle gain progress is to assess your body composition at the beginning and end of your bulk. You can opt for an affordable and convenient at home scale, or schedule a DXA/DEXA scan that estimates your body fat percentage within a 1.6% margin of error. 

The best way to know you are gaining muscle is if you are progressively able to lift heavier weights because the only way you can lift heavier weights if you have bigger muscles.

Tracking Progress

If you use an app to keep track of your progress, you can periodically calculate your percent gains and improvements over time. Here’s an example of my actual gains.

ExerciseDec 26, 2021March 12, 2022% increaseTarget area
lbslbs
V-bar pushdown5072.545.00%Triceps
Chest press machine7012071.43%Chest
Lat pulldown machine9013044.44%Back
Shoulder press machine407075.00%Shoulders
Tricep pushdown machine11517047.83%Triceps
Bicep curl machine6511069.23%Biceps

Gadgets and Accessories

To support your strength training goals, I have found the following gadgets useful.

Wi-fi body scale

I have the Withings smart wi-fi body scale. It automatically records my weight and in the app, I can see my weight change over time.

Smartwatch

I have the Fossil Men’s Gen 6 Touchscreen Smartwatch. It’s got a ton of features.

Whenever I enter the gym, I start tracking my heart rate and calories burned. When I’m done, I stop tracking and I can see a history of my calories burned and workout duration over time.

Bluetooth Headphones / Earphones

I have the Sony Wireless Behind-Neck Headset (WI-C400). Many people like to wear Beats headphones. I prefer the behind-the-neck style headset because it’s lightweight and doesn’t move around as I exercise, including when I do situps.

Compression T-Shirt

I have the Under Armour Men’s HeatGear Compression Short-Sleeve T-Shirt. It allows you to see your body shape so you can see how you’re progressing. I find it motivating to see physical progress.

Weight Training Workout Gloves

Repeatedly lifting weights can result in calluses (thickened skin that forms as a response to repeated friction or pressure). Workout gloves tend to have a cushion to protect your skin. I find it much more comfortable to lift with gloves on.

Summary

  • Stay in a positive protein balance by hitting your protein consistently.
  • Get your protein from high-quality sources like meat, eggs, dairy, and soy.
  • Your body needs energy to grow, so you need to be in a moderate calorie surplus.
  • Make sleep a priority — both quantity and quality.
  • Hit the weights consistently, and train harder by adding volume (in weight, reps, and sets) over time – progressive overloading.

Various Ways of Working With Lots of Text and Files

Table of contents

  • Find and replace text in a single text file
  • Find and replace text in multiple files
  • Sort a list of text
  • Get unique / remove duplicate lines in a list of text
  • Select a column of text
  • Find text in a single file and copy all matches to the clipboard
  • Add text to the beginning of each line of text
  • Copy differences (diff) between two files
  • Rename multiple filenames in multiple folders

The instructions below use Visual Studio Code unless stated otherwise.

Find and replace text in a single text file

  1. Open the text file in Visual Studio Code
  2. Click Edit > Find or Edit > Replace
  3. Enter your search term and replace term
  4. Use optional options like
    • case senstive match
    • match whole word
    • regular expression
    • preserve case
    • replace first match
    • replace all matches at once
    • find in selection

Find and replace text in multiple files

  1. In Visual Studio Code, right click on a folder and click “Find in Folder…”
  1. Enter your search term and replace term
  2. Use optional options like
    1. case senstive match
    2. match whole word
    3. regular expression
    4. preserve case
  3. In the search results, you will see a preview of the text change.

If you click on a preview in search results, you can can the a side-by-side view of the change in each file.

Sort a list of text

  1. Select all the text to sort
  2. Right click on the selection and click “Sort lines”

Get unique / remove duplicate lines in a list of text

  1. Select the list of text
  2. Click View > Command Paletter
  3. Click one of the unique sort options

Select a column of text

  1. Put the cursor at one corner of the column of text you want to select
  2. On Windows, click and hold “Shift” + “Alt” keys and drag the cursor to the opposite corner of the column of text you want to select
  1. You can then start typing to replace the text or copy the text to the clipboard

Find text in a single file and copy all matches to the clipboard

  1. Open the text in Visual Studio Code
  2. Click Edit > Find
  3. Enter a search term
  4. Click Selection > Select All Occurrences
    All matches will be highlighted. Notice the different highlight color in the two screenshots below.
  1. Right click on the highlighted text and click “Copy”
  1. You could then paste the copied text in a new file

Add text to the beginning of each line of text

  1. Click Edit > Replace
  2. Use the following regex search

Copy differences (diff) between two files

Let’s say you have two files and you want to get only the differences between the two. Visual Studio Code will show you a diff between two files as follows:

  1. Open both files
  2. Select both files in the OPEN EDITORS section
  3. Right click and click “Compare Selected”

You will then see a nice diff between the two files.

But, you won’t be able to copy only the changed lines or export the diff. On Windows, you can use a tool called DiffMerge by SourceGear. If you open both files, you’ll see a similar view.

You can then click Export > File Diffs > Traditional > In Text > To Clipboard to copy the diff to your clipboard.

You can then paste the diff in a text editor like Visual Studio Code and extract only the text you are interested in.

Rename multiple filenames in multiple folders

Let’s say you have many files and you want to rename the filenames all at once. For this, I find it easy to use a tool like Rename Expert. For example, in the screenshot below, I did the following:

  1. Added all files the filenames of which I want to rename
  2. Under “Actions”, chose the actions I want done. In this case, I did 2 actions:
    1. Replace (to replace the first character of each filename with an underscore)
    2. Edit file extension (to change the file extension from php to jpg)
  3. Previewed the changes and resolve any conflicts
  4. Clicked the Apply button to run the batch renaming of files.