Pesky Punctuatio n The Speaking, Reading, and Writing Center College of the Mainland Spring 2015 Punctuation can be a pest. We know its important, but sometimes we just dont understand what to do with it. Lets see if we can clear
up some of the confusion and take out some of the sting http://www.pinstopin.com/yuck-meme/ Common punctuation issues include: Semi-colons Colons Apostrophes
Quotation marks Commas Lets tackle them now! Semi-Colons The semi-colon is most commonly used to separate two independent clauses. Good rule of thumb: if you use one, then each part of the sentence it divides must contain a subject and predicate and be able to stand alone as a complete
sentence. But dont just join any two sentences. Use this punctuation when joining sentences that are closely related or connected in meaning to each other. Semi-Colons Correct: I just failed chemistry; my parents are going to ground me for life. Incorrect: I just failed chemistry; Ted Cruz just announced his candidacy for president. The relationship between the two independent clauses in the first example is clear. One thing is going to happen specifically because the other happened first.
But in the second example, there appears to be no connection between the two ideas. Semi-Colons Correct: Mark Twain was not a racist; he used racial epithets because they reflected the time period. Incorrect: Mark Twain was not a racist; even though some would disagree. The relationship between the two independent clauses in the first example is clear. The second sentence expands on the ideas of the first. But in the second example, what appears after the semi-colon is a
dependent clause. Replace the semi-colon, or revise the dependent clause. Semi-Colons Missing semi-colons & comma splices Missing semi-colons create comma splices, or run-on sentences: Changing the laws on motorcycle helmets is not the answer people need to be more aware of their surroundings when driving. This sentence includes two different subjects and two different predicates, so there are three possibilities for revision: 3. Separate 1.
2. Add Place a coordinating a semi-colon the clauses conjunction between into twothe complete, between two independent the free-standing two clauses:
independent clauses: sentences: Changing the laws on motorcycle helmets is not the answer; people need Changing thetolaws be more on motorcycle aware of their helmets surroundings is not the answer. answer, when driving.need
because People people to be need more to aware be more of aware their surroundings of their surroundings when when driving. driving.
Colons The colon is commonly used to introduce a list of items. Good rule of thumb: because the colon functions somewhat as a linking verb before the list, do not use a verb directly before it. Correct: You will be finished with your degree after completing three more courses: Introduction to Macroeconomics, Business Writing, and Senior Capstone Project.
Incorrect: You will be finished with your degree after completing additional courses, including: Introduction to Macroeconomics, Business Writing, and Senior Capstone Project. Colons The colon is also used to link an independent clause to an appositive, which is a word that renames a noun or noun phrase. The culprit who likely ate the entire bag of cat food: Fluffy.
Do not capitalize the appositive immediately following the colon unless the word is normally capitalized. The culprit who likely misplaced my keys: me. Apostrophes The apostrophe is used to join words that form a contraction or indicate possession. Youre funny! Thats hilarious! Jims hat is too big for his head.
The kittens mittens are too tiny for their little paws. Common errors: Apostrophes are NOT needed for possessive personal pronouns, including its, hers, his, theirs, ours Apostrophes Dont make us call Apostrophe Man Marks Use quotation marks to mark off someones exact spoken words, or when citing
specific passages of text. Correct: Ashlen laughed, Look at Sabrina and Colonel Sanders! Correct: And Caesar cried out, Et tu, Brute? Marks In academic writing, do not use quotation marks to add emphasis to words that you think are extra important or to imply sarcasm, unless they are a direct quote. Incorrect: The country began to suffer from the more progressive policies of this president.
Commas Missing or incorrectly placed commas can make a big difference in how the reader interprets your sentence, so lets review some comma rules Commas Use commas with introductory words (at the beginning of the sentence) like conjunctive adverbs:
Besides Further Meanwhile Next Therefore Indeed Finally Otherwise
Undoubtedly Subsequently Instead Commas And use commas with transitional phrases at the beginning of sentences:
In addition to In fact For example That is For instance In other words On the other hand Even so Commas Use commas when joining two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction: Drake graduated on Saturday, and he began his new job the following Tuesday.
Commas Do not use a comma to separate a compound verb that shares one subject: Josh mulched the garden on Saturday and planted the peppers on Sunday. Commas Do not use a comma to separate a main clause from a restrictive clause (a clause that is essential to the meaning of the sentence):
Correct: I plan to run to the grocery store while the car is full of gas. Incorrect: I plan to run to the grocery store, while the car is full of gas. In compound sentences with two independent clauses, a comma should be placed before the coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or nor, so, yet). Correct:
Ryan offered to pick up Abbys shift, but Abbys travel plans changed. In compound sentences with one independent and one dependent clause, a comma should not be placed before the coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or nor, so, yet). Correct: Ryan offered to pick up Abbys shift but not Joshs. Commas Commas must be used to offset an
appositive. The instructor hired Jim, his favorite grad student, to assist with a research project. Do not place a comma after such as or like before introducing a list. Many academic disciplines, such as humanities, communication, and education, place a high level of emphasis on public speaking skills. Do not use a comma after a subordinating conjunction such as although, despite, or while. Although the rain has been falling all day, the parking lot has yet to flood.
Commas Consult the following resources when you are stuck: The Little Penguin Handbook The Purdue OWL Your instructor The SRWC tutors
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