Published on March 5, 2014
Careless punctuation can undermine your credibility and spoil and otherwise effective piece of writing. Remember: Let’s eat Grandma. Let’s eat, Grandma.
Periods At the end of a full statement With some abbreviations Rev. p. m. (PM) Nov. Other abbreviations may NOT take periods: NFL, TV, PA, FBI In decimal numbers 5.38 (five and thirty-eight hundreths) $10.35
Question mark At the end of direct questions The panelists debated the question, “Should marijuana be legalized?” Did the consultants name their report “The Recycling Crisis”? In parentheses, following an item of questionable accuracy. -- The fraud, begun in 1999 (?), was discovered only this year.
Exclamation point At the end of emphatic sentences USE EXCLAMATION POINTS SPARINGLY!!!
Comma Between sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction. My father loves to dine out, but he is fussy about his food. (NOT between compound words/phrases Between items in a series Between adjectives of equal weight Collecting colorful, exotic plants is one of my grandfather’s hobbies.
Setting off non-essential word groups The teacher asked the class to read Les Miserables, a novel of redemption and revenge. • Setting off words that precede the main body of the sentence. Yes, I’ll be happy to read your report. - Because English is a required course, the classes are large. - Like most children, my sister loves animals. (If the introductory material is short, you may omit the comma.) Surely everyone has an urge to see exotic places. -
Setting off words that follow the main body of the sentence (absolute modifier). - Many people think a walk is a waste of time, like napping or daydreaming. - You should start any new exercise program slowly, making sure not to push yourself. • Setting off interrupting words and phrases. - I told him, when he mentioned my accident, my version of what happened. - The snowfall was heavy; classes, however, were still held.
Setting off words in direct address - Ladies and gentlemen, the meeting is about to begin. - “Remember, Jan, to turn down the thermostat,” my mother warned. • Between a short quotation and the phrase that indicates the quotation’s source. -My friend remarked, “You remind me of a hungry bulldog.” -“You can’t block the access to the building,” the police warned.
Between the elements of a date or place - The package was delivered to 102 Glendale Road, Kirkwood, NY 08043 on January 23, 2012. - They were married June 16, 1973, in Ohio. • When you reverse a date in European style, do NOT add a comma. Do NOT put a comma between the state and the zip code. - February 14, 2011 - 14 February 2011 - February 2011 -Elizabethtown, PA 17022
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