There’s more to nouns than people, places, and things. Some nouns are countable, and some are not. Most nouns are common, but some are proper. There are mass nouns and collective nouns, attributive nouns and nouns that can function as verbs. Some even take on adverbial roles.
Verb tenses are all about establishing the time that something happened: past, present, or future. They can also specify whether an action has been completed or is ongoing.
Most editors encounter at least the occasional symbol in the documents they edit, so it’s good to know a little bit about them. Thanks to Unicode, it’s easy to find out a symbol’s name—which can help you figure out whether it’s the right one in the right context.
People who work in publishing have their own vocabulary, including many terms related to printing, typesetting, and design. You’ll find some of these terms in the glossary at the back of CMOS. How many do you know?
Quotation marks, or “quotes” for short, like to work in pairs. But they’re not all the same. They can be double or single, left or right, curly or straight. Part of an editor’s job is to know which marks to use in which context—and to make sure they’ve been used consistently.
Parentheses and brackets (specifically, square brackets) normally come in pairs, as do other types of brackets and braces. Their main job is to set things off from their surroundings.
Apostrophes, like quotation marks, hang out far above the baseline, where they have two main roles: contraction and possession. They also occasionally have a third role: as a marker of the plural.
Semicolons, when they’re not winking at you, can be a useful punctuation mark. Some writers are fans of the mark; others could do without it. But whatever you think of semicolons, it can be helpful to know how they’re used.
The punctuation mark that many of us know as the slash appears on standard computer keyboards. But even though it sits right there next to the period and the comma—and though it was once used as a form of sentence punctuation like those marks—the slash is comparatively uncommon today in ordinary prose.
Dashes—specifically, en dashes and em dashes—are like hyphens, but longer. And though there’s some overlap in how hyphens and dashes are used, dashes play a role all their own.