Punctuation Summary

 

 

Punctuation Diagnostic: a tool to help you identify specific points that need review

Punctuation Marks

Apostrophes: mark contractions and possessive nouns 

apostrophe-S

He's here.  He'd be here if he could. He'll be here.

goin', don't, 'til,  day 'n' night

The student's/ students', class's/ classes'  textbook.  

It is James's, Joneses'  house.

It is Jack and Jill's, Jack's and Jill's house.

It's theirs (their home).  There's its home.

My friend's computer
My boss's office
The children's room
A day's journey

My parents' computer
The Lincolns' bedroom
The Williamses' new home

 

Bulleted Lists: compare styles for wording and punctuating vertical lists

bullet hole list

Job applicants will need to have:  

  • a high-school degree
  • a bachelors degree
  • two years of experience
  • three recommendations

Bulleted List Practice: examine options for wording and punctuating vertical lists

Word bullet options

Job applicants will need the following:  

  • a high-school degree
  • SCUBA certification
  • two years of experience
  • three recommendations

 

Capitalization: recognize when to use uppercase letters

Use capital letters

capital &
lowercase

He took an Aspirin and lay down. (Trademark Bayer AG)
I took some aspirin to get rid of my headache.

Colons: join words or a phrase that explains or illustrates

semicolon

He always took the same taxi: a yellow cab with Internet access. 

My duties at Tzonga were as followsplanning, purchasing, organizing, and collecting.

My duties at Tzonga were, for exampleplanning, purchasing, organizing, and collecting.

Comma Uses

Comma Uses: clarify meaning by separating words and phrases

set off with commas

Because a flock of sheep needs protection, the shepherd guards them.

The shepherd guards the flock of sheep because they need protection.

Being a shepherd, he watches sheep all day.

George, a shepherd, manages a large flock of sheep.

Comma Series: separate elements in a series 

set off with commas

He drinks pops and punches. (verb, noun, noun)

He drinks, pops, and punches. (verb, verb, verb)

He drinks pops, and then punches. (verb, noun, verb)

Extra Comments (loosely related comments)

Extra Comments: setting off extraneous comments from clauses 

dashes, commas, parentheses

Crime—costing the city millions of dollars each year— must be reduced.

Crime, which weakens our city, must be reduced. detail

Crime (burglaries and robberies) must be reduced.   explanation

 

Dashes (Em dash): set off elements from the rest of the sentence

dash

Edward Lee—father, actor, businessman, and mayor—is running for office again.

 

For Example / That is to say: add examples or clarification

e.g. and i.e.

Calcium is in green leafy vegetables, for example, broccoli, kales, arugula, and spinach.

There is calcium in vegetables such as broccoli, kales, arugula, and spinach.

Cruciferous vegetables (i.e., Brassicaceae) have flowers shaped like a cross.

Hyphens & Capitalization in Headings:  link words to clarify meaning

two footstools and two-foot stools

Two footstools sold for a half-million dollars at  Sothebys.

Two-foot stools sold for a half-million dollars at  Sothebys.

 

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Treatments

President-Elect  / -elect Barack Obama

trans-American (but transatlantic, transcontinental)

Italics: mark titles of major works, and other terms in your writing

italics

The opera Rigoletto was written by Giuseppe Verdi.

Pablo Picasso's most famous proto-Cubist works are Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937)

The best known video game, Mario Bros., features two plumbers.

Leprosy was caused by Mycobacterium leprae.

Parentheses: add explanations and clarification to sentences

set off with commas

Parentheses (often overused) enclose explanations or clarification.

The American Kayaking Association (AKA) has a newsletter.

Periods: mark sentence ends, abbreviations and decimals

period

The UA flight will arrive at LAX on Sat., Sept. 21, at 6:00 p.m.  PST.

Quotation Marks: mark quoted speech, titles of minor works and terms

quotation marks

He said, "Time is money."

"What does that mean?" he asked.

Don't you agree "Time is money"?

Jim Dale performs eleven different  voices for characters in "Lord Voldemort's Request" in the audiobook recording of  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Semicolons: punctuate joined phrases

comma

The sandwich choices include tomato, bacon and lettuce; cheese, ham and lettuce; peanut butter and jelly.

He didn't want help; he didn't ask for it.  (nor)

We needed to have a security report; otherwise, we wouldn't go.

The inner city has small narrow streets; for example, two cars cannot pass on a street in the old town.
 

FANBOYS: join words, phrases and clauses with coordinators

fan boy

She danced and waved a fan. 

She danced and waved a fan, and he played the flute. 

But / But still:  state contrast or contrary outcome

sugar with coffee

like sugar in my coffee, whereas Edward likes black coffee.
I like sugar in my coffee in contrast to Edward who likes none.

One the one hand, I like sugar in my coffee.
On the other hand, Edgard does not!

I shouldn't eat sugar, but still I do.
Though I shouldn't eat sugar, I do.
I shouldn't eat sugar.  Nevertheless, I do.
 

So that: express purpose vs. effect

Baby reaching for gumball

The baby reached up so that he could get some candy.

The baby got nothing, so he cried.

And so / too: shorten a repeated verb in a joined clause

new toy

My brother has a new toy, and so do I.   (American English)
My brother has a new toy, and so have I.  (British English)

My bother got a new toy, and I did too.  
My brother got a new toy,  but I didn't. 

You got a new toy, didn't you?   Yes, I did.  / No, I didn't.

Too / Either: add a positive or negative comment

new toy

I am eight today, and my cousin is too.  
I am not a child, and my cousin isn't either.   

I am excited. Me too (informal) / I am too!
I am not worried.  Me either (informal) / I am not either!

Nobody helped me.  Me either (negative pronoun)
We barely understand it. Me either. (negative adverb)
 

.

Both and: join sentence elements with paired expressions

movie

Both the movie and the play were good.  

Not only the movie but also the play was good.  

Neither the movie nor the play was good.  

Either the movie or the play was good. I can't remember.  

But / But still:  state contrast or contrary outcome

sugar with coffee

like sugar in my coffee, whereas Edward likes black coffee.
I like sugar in my coffee in contrast to Edward who likes none.

One the one hand, I like sugar in my coffee.
On the other hand, Edgard does not!

I shouldn't eat sugar, but still I do.
Though I shouldn't eat sugar, I do.
I shouldn't eat sugar.  Nevertheless, I do.
 

Cause & Effect: indicate a causal relationship

Girls School

She married at the age of thirteen because she had no other options.
She had no other options. Consequently, she married at the age  of thirteen.

Illiteracy results from a poor childhood education.
A poor childhood education results in illiteracy.

Indeed / Even : emphasize unexpected or extraordinary details 

Gingerbread House

His work is indeed more amazing than before
His work is even more amazing than before
His work is in fact more amazing than before

After/ Before/ When: indicate time-relative activities

Dog coming in door

When I call the dog, she comes.

After I call the dog, she comes.

Before I call the dog, I open the door.

After I take the dog out, we'll sit down for a while.

When / While: indicate same-time activities

Talking on phone and looking at newborn

When you called, he picked up his cell phone.

While he was talking on the phone, the baby slept.

Sentence Editing: correcting connector use

Editor

*Because I needed to miss a board meeting, so I notified the speaker.

 

Moved to Sentence Structure

Subject / Predicate: identify basic elements in a sentence

subject

Charlie raised his hand.
Feeling confident, Charlie raised his hand.
Clever Charlie, my good friend, raised his hand.

Charlie raised his hand in the air.
Charlie enthusiastically raised his hand.
Charlie raised his hand hoping to answer.

Clause/ Fragment identify larger parts of a sentence

luggage

*Each year, millions of people travel to the U.S. In fact, eighty-six million.   (fragment)

*Put your suitcase down.  Over there. (fragment)
How about a visa? (fragment)

 

*error in sentence  

Complete Thought: include a topic and controlling idea

Complete Thought

Why are 20% of Americans unable to find the U.S. on a map?

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so (find the U.S. on a map) because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children."

Run-on Sentences: identify simple and compound (complex) sentences

football

My friend and I blogged and read over his shoulder.
My friend blogged, and I read over his shoulder.