The most common use of the semicolon is to join two independent clauses without using a conjunction like and. A semicolon should be followed by a capital letter only if the word is a proper noun or an acronym. Using a comma instead of a semicolon in the sentences above would result. Thanks to Library Lady Jane for all her help in writing these grammar guides over the years. If you would like a regular serving of grammar-related. How to Use English Punctuation Correctly. With the dawn of the Internet, the birth of Internet slang, and the growing use of SMS, many of us are starting to forget.
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Amber, could you come here for a moment? Use a comma to separate a direct quotation from the sentence introducing it. A comma should occur after the word immediately preceding a quotation that is being introduced with context or a description. On the other hand, it is not necessary to use a comma before an indirect quote where you are paraphrasing someone's words without quoting them exactly.
Additionally, a comma is usually not necessary if you are not quoting an entire statement, but only a few words from it. While I was at his house, John asked, "Do you want anything to eat? While I was at his house, John asked me if I wanted anything to eat. Here is an example of a partial direct quotation, which, due to its brevity and its use within the sentence, does not require a comma: According to the client, the lawyer was "lazy and incompetent.
Use a semicolon to separate two related but independent clauses. The proper use of a semicolon is similar, but not identical, to that of a comma. The semicolon marks the end of one independent clause and the start of another within a single sentence. Note that, if the two clauses are very wordy or complex, it is better to use a period full stop and form two sentences instead. Use a semicolon to separate a complex series of items.
Usually, the items in a series are separated by commas, but for cases in which one or more items require comment or explanation, semicolons can be used in conjunction with commas to keep the reader from becoming confused. Use semicolons to separate items and their explanations from one another. To separate an item from its own explanation, use a comma. Use a colon to introduce a list. Be careful, however, not to use a colon when stating an idea that requires naming a series of items.
The two are similar, but distinct. Often the sentence-ending words "the following" or "as follows" will call for the use of a colon when they are followed by new, explanatory information.
Here, on the other hand, is an incorrect example: The Easter basket contained: Easter eggs, chocolate rabbits, and other candy. In this case you would simply omit the colon. Use a colon to introduce a new concept or example.
It can help to think of this as introducing a list containing only one item. Here's an example of a colon being used properly in this way: There's only one person old enough to remember that wedding: Use a colon to separate parts of a title. Some works of art, particularly books and movies, can have long, subdivided titles. In these cases, what follows the main title is called a subtitle. Use colons to separate them.
The purpose of this hyphen is to make the word easier to read. For instance, if you were to leave the hyphen out of the word re-examine, it would be reexamine , where the double "e" could be confusing. Let a dictionary be your guide for when to use the hyphen after a prefix.
Here's an example of good hyphen usage: Cara is his ex-girlfriend. Use hyphens when creating compound words from several smaller words. If you've ever written about anything that's gold-plated, radar-equipped, or one-size-fits-all, you've used a hyphen in this way. To build a long, descriptive word out of two or more component words, use hyphens to separate the "pieces" from each other. The up-to-date newspaper reporters were quick to jump on the latest scandal.
Use a hyphen when writing numbers out as words. Separate the two words of any number under one hundred with a hyphen. Be careful with spelling out numbers above one hundred — if the number is used as an adjective, it is completely hyphenated, since all compound adjectives are hyphenated.
This is the one-hundredth episode. Otherwise, a hyphen should occur only if a number lower than is embedded within a larger number, e. Don't use "and" when writing numbers, as in "The amount is one hundred and eighty.
Elsewhere in the English-speaking world, however, the "and" can be included. Here are two examples of hyphens being used in numbers below and above one hundred, respectively: There are fifty-two playing cards in a deck. Use a dash when making a brief interruption within a statement. The dash "--" or "—" is slightly longer than the hyphen and is used to convey a sudden change of thought, an additional comment, or a dramatic qualification within a sentence.
It can also be used to add a parenthetical statement for further clarification, but this should still be relevant to the sentence. Keep in mind that the rest of the sentence should still flow naturally as if the dashed material were not there. To judge whether a dash is appropriate, try to remove the words between the dashes. If the sentence appears disjointed or does not make sense, you may need to revise it instead of using the dashes. There should be spaces before and after a dash in British English.
Here are two examples of proper dash usage: This is the end of our sentence — or so we thought. Use a hyphen to split a word between two lines.
Though this use is not as common today, the hyphen "-" was once a common punctuation mark on typewriters, used when a long word had to be split between two lines. Here's an example of a hyphen being used to split a word that's cut into two pieces by a line break: Use the apostrophe together with the letter s to indicate possession. The apostrophe " ' " has a variety of uses for conveying the concept of possession.
Be aware of the difference in using an apostrophe with singular or plural nouns. A singular noun will use the apostrophe before the "s" 's , whereas the plural version of that noun will use the apostrophe after the "s" s'. Be mindful of nouns that are always considered to be plural, such as children and people. Here you should use 's even though the nouns are plural.
Also be aware of pronouns that are already possessive and do not require apostrophes, such as hers and its. It's means it is or it has. Their is possessive without apostrophe or s , except as a predicate adjective, where it becomes theirs. Here is an example of an apostrophe used to show possession with a singular noun: The hamster ' s water tube needs to be refilled.
Here is an example of an apostrophe used for showing possession with a plural noun: In the pet store, the hamsters ' bedding needed to be changed. Here is an example of an apostrophe used for showing possession with a plural noun that doesn't end with "s": These children ' s test scores are the highest in the nation.
Use the apostrophe to combine two words to make a contraction. Contractions are shortened combinations of two words. For example, cannot becomes can't , "it is" becomes "it's", you are becomes you're , and "they have" becomes they've. In every contraction, the apostrophe replaces the letters that are omitted from one or both words. It is a common mistake to interchange them. Here is an example of apostrophes used for a contraction of it is and a singular noun with possession, while correctly being omitted for possessive pronouns hers , theirs , its: Use a single quotation mark within a regular quotation to indicate a quotation within a quotation.
Single quotation marks, which look almost identical to apostrophes, are used to separate quotations from other quotations which surround them. Ali said, "Anna told me, ' I wasn't sure if you wanted to come! Don't use an apostrophe with an s to make a singular noun into a plural noun. This is a very common mistake. Remember that apostrophes are not used to show the simple pluralization of a noun. Here are examples of correct and incorrect apostrophe usage: Use the slash to separate and from or , when appropriate.
Use the slash when quoting lyrics and poetry to denote a line break. Slashes are especially useful when it is impractical to recreate the original formatting of a poem or song. When using slashes in this way, be sure to include spaces before and after the slashes. Also use the slash to replace the word and when joining two nouns. By replacing and with a slash, you suggest that there is equal importance in both options listed. Use these replacements in moderation to place greater emphasis where and may not do so, as well as to avoid confusing the reader.
Here are examples of how to use and how not to use a slash in this way: Use the double quotation mark " to enclose a direct quotation derived from either a spoken or written source. Generally speaking, quotation marks are used to denote that the information is a quote.
In other words, whether you're recreating someone's verbal speech or simply re-writing something that they wrote elsewhere, you'll use quotation marks.
Use parentheses to clarify. Parentheses are often used to explain something that can't be deduced from the rest of the sentence. Note that sometimes parentheses and commas can be used interchangeably.
Here is an example of parentheses used for clarification: Use parentheses to denote an afterthought. Parentheses can also be used to contain information that is supplementary to the sentence they are part of. In this case, the line between using parentheses and starting a new sentence instead can be somewhat murky. A good general rule is to use parentheses for short additions and quips, not complex ideas.
Here is an example of parentheses used for an afterthought. Note that the period full stop follows the last parenthesis — not before the first. Also note that replacing the parentheses with a comma may not be entirely suitable here, while a period or a semicolon may work: You will need a flashlight for the camping trip don't forget the batteries! Use parentheses for personal comments. One additional usage of parentheses is to contain the writer's direct comments to the reader.
Usually, the comments contained in parentheses refer to the preceding sentence. As above, the shorter and simpler the better. If you have to expound at great length or reference several disparate pieces of your writing, it's usually best to start a new sentence. Here is an example of parentheses used for a personal comment: Use brackets to signify an editor's note in a regular piece of writing.
You can also use brackets " [ ] " to clarify or to revise a direct quote. Brackets are often used to encompass the word "sic" Latin for thus , indicating that the previous word or phrase was presented "as is," retaining an error in the original version. Note that the original quote was, "It was absolutely devastating! Use braces to denote a numeric set in mathematics. Here are two examples of brace usage.
Note that the second is exceedingly rare: The set of numbers in this problem is: Not Helpful 0 Helpful How can I master them?
Read a lot of English text and pay attention to how they are used. Not Helpful 3 Helpful If you want to show ownership for one person, you would add an " 's" at the end of the name e.
If you'd like to show ownership for more than one person, you'd add an "s' " e. Not Helpful 7 Helpful How do I interpret the meaning of "Have had a look. Will send a detailed reply to Fred"? It means, "I looked at it. I will do as you have suggested. I will respond to Fred in detail. Not Helpful 2 Helpful Is it proper to say "The cookbook on the shelf has many good vegetarian recipes in them"? No, the "them" at the end of your sentence refers to the cookbook, a single object.
So "them" should become "it. Not Helpful 4 Helpful You can use it immediately after an error in a quotation commonly a misspelling. A statement released by the Trump campaign said, "We need too [sic] make America great again. A period generally comes after a complete sentence. Bob went to the park. Not Helpful 10 Helpful In a title, capitalize the first word and all other main words. Do not capitalize prepositions.
Not Helpful 14 Helpful Always use commas to separate phrases that are extra information. In other words, if the sentence still makes sense without the phrase, commas should be used to separate it from the rest of the sentence, just as you have done.
How would I punctuate "There was a huge traffic jam on the motorway it stretched for miles it took us three hours to airport this left us feeling exhausted"? It stretched for miles. It took us three hours to get to the airport. This left us feeling exhausted. Not Helpful 6 Helpful Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips The placement of punctuation marks before or after a closing quotation mark varies.
American English always places periods full stops and commas inside the quotation marks, "like so. Semicolons and colons always go outside the quotation marks, "like so"; The use of question marks and exclamation marks varies depending upon context.
If the whole sentence is a question, and the quotation is a word or phrase at the end of the sentence, the question mark goes outside the quotation marks.
If the whole sentence is a statement and the quotation is a question, the question mark goes inside the quotation marks. Do you like to watch "The Office"? He shouted, "Where do you think you're going?
While this is sometimes true, there are some cases where a set of parentheses might be more suitable, such as in indicating one's personal thought. There are exceptions to the hyphen-dash rule. In making compound words, when one of the words is itself composed of two words, use an en dash — rather than a hyphen, as in, "He took the Paris—New York route.
Most of your sentences should be declarative statements. If you decide against the serial comma in your work, make sure that the meaning of the sentence can stand without its use. Think about the classic example of a sentence in which the serial comma is needed: Dashes are usually considered to be informal.
Give the gift of theatre
Using Semicolons. Semicolons help you connect closely related ideas when a style mark stronger than a comma is needed. By using semicolons effectively, you. Find out how to separate items in a list using semicolons in this handy step-by- step from KS3 English. Semicolons can help create variety, emphasize relatedness and separate items in a list. Grammar Girl explains how to use them well and improve your writing.