The placement of quotation marks perplexes a lot of people. Do they go inside or outside of other punctuation marks, like periods and commas? Should they be used to set off titles or to emphasize certain words? Are they used for both spoken dialogue and thought dialogue? What about text messages or notes in a novel…Read More
It’s one of those grammar glitches that makes English teachers twitch, and it’s a perplexing punctuation problem. Knowing when to use an apostrophe and when to use apostrophe -s can be tricky, but this grammar quickie provides all you need to know about plural versus possession when it comes to apostrophe -s.
It’s a relatively simple punctuation mark — a bold one without a lot of confusing rules — yet it’s still grossly overused. It gives our sentences pizzazz. It emphasizes dialogue when one character shouts or snaps at another. And it gives copy editors headaches. The exclamation mark sure packs a punch.
You see it everywhere, but most people don’t know what it’s called or how to use it properly. In fact, it’s often referred to as “dot, dot, dot” even though it does have a name. This punctuation mark is the ellipsis. It is a series or row of three periods, which is usually used to indicate…Read More
The colon is one of the most clearly-defined punctuation marks. It occasionally acts as a stand-in for a comma or period (though when one of these other punctuation marks will do, the colon is unnecessary). Most commonly, the colon functions as an introductory punctuation mark, notifying the reader that the forthcoming information supports, explains, or…Read More
There’s a fine art to using commas. Today we’ll look at how commas work with clauses — both dependent clauses and independent clauses. And don’t worry if you’re not sure which clause is which. Everything will be explained. Independent Clauses and Commas An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence: I watch movies. Two…Read More
To the passive reader, it’s a short horizontal line that appears somewhere in a text, usually joining two words together. To a writer, it’s something else entirely, but what? Is it a dash, a hyphen, or a minus sign? More than once, I’ve been pecking away at my keyboard and stopped suddenly when confronted with…Read More
What is it about punctuation marks that cause so many bad sentence constructions? You know the sentences I’m talking about. They’ve got random commas, missing quotation marks, and way too many exclamation points. To make matters worse, some writers break the rules and get away with it while others are chastised for doing (what appears…Read More
For such a little punctuation mark, the comma causes an awful lot of confusion. Some writers are too liberal with commas, sprinkling them about like nuts on an ice cream sundae. Other writers hoard their commas and avoid using them whenever possible. Why are these punctuation marks so widely misused? Why are we, collectively, so…Read More
When you use commas to separate items in a list or series, do you include a comma before the conjunction near the end of the list? For example: I write poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. (This sentence does not use a serial comma.) or I write poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. (This sentence does use…Read More