End marks signal the end or conclusion of a sentence, word, or phrase. There are three end marks: • • • The period (.) The question mark (?) The exclamation mark (!) A period indicates the end of a sentence or the end of an abbreviation. Rule: Use periods to end declarative sentences – statements of fact or opinion. This is a beautiful park. Rule: Use a period to end most imperative sentences – sentences that give directions or commands. Finish reading the chapter. Rule: Use a period to end a sentence that contains an indirect question. An indirect question restates a question in a declarative sentence. It does not give the speaker’s exact words. Mae asked me if I could stay. Rule: Use a period after most abbreviations and initials. Gov. Christie Ms. Large Spruce Rd. 36 in. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. E.B. White Jonas F. Sterlacci Note: When a sentence ends with an abbreviation that requires a period, you do not need to put two periods. Be sure to include Jack Jenkins, Jr. You do not need to use periods with acronyms, words formed with first (or first few) letters of a series of words. USA – United States of America A question mark follows a word, phrase, or sentence that asks a question. Rule: Use a question mark after an interrogative sentence – one that asks a direct question. Do snakes hatch from eggs? Would you like to come over? Sometimes a single word or brief phrase is used to ask a direct question. This type of question is punctuated as though it were a complete sentence because the words that are left out are easily understood. Rule: Use a question mark after a word or phrase that asks a question. Many small birds build false nests. Why? Let’s meet for lunch. Where? Use an exclamation mark to end a word, phrase, or sentence that shows strong emotion. Look at that huge vulture! Watch out! Rule: Use an exclamation mark after an imperative sentence that gives a forceful or urgent command. Don’t spill the water! Let’s go! While imperative sentences with forceful commands often end with an exclamation marks, mild imperatives should end with a period. Please sit down. Go to the store for me tomorrow. Rule: Use an exclamation mark after an interjection that expresses strong emotion. Wow! That was a great throw. Oh! Look what I found. Exclamation marks should not be used too often. Overusing them reduces their emotional effect and makes writing less effective. End marks (like periods) signal a full stop. Commas signal a brief pause. A comma may be used to separate elements in a sentence or to set off part of a sentence. Include a comma in your writing when you want your reader to group information in your sentence. A compound sentence consists of two or more main or independent clauses that are joined by a coordinating conjunction, such as and, but, for, nor, or, so, or yet. Rule: Use a comma before the conjunction to separate two main or independent clauses in a compound sentence. Chimpanzees are full grown at age five, but their mothers still take care of them. Use a comma before a conjunction ONLY when there are complete sentences on both sides of the conjunction. If the conjunction joins single words, phrases, or subordinate clauses, do not use a comma. Single Words Right: Heat and sand are common desert features. Wrong: Heat, and sand are common desert features. Phrases Right: Teri likes both green apples and red apples. Wrong: Teri likes both green apples, and red apples. Subordinate Clauses Right: They have decided that you should study more and that they will check on you. Wrong: They have decided that you should study more, and that they will check on you. In some compound sentences, the main clauses are very brief and the meaning is clear. When this occurs, the comma before the conjunction does not need to be there. Jon listened carefully but he heard nothing. A comma splice occurs when two or more sentences have been joined with only a comma between them. They are not good. Avoid them at all costs. To avoid comma splices, make sure all of your ideas are properly linked. WRONG: The snow clumped on the trees, many branches snapped under its weight. RIGHT: The snow clumped on the trees. Many branches snapped under its weight. Sometimes, a sentence lists a number of single words or groups of words. When three or more of these items are listed, the list is called a series. Separate the items in a series with commas. A comma must follow each of the items except for the last one in the series. The conjunction and or or is added after the last comma. The desert animals included camels, toads, gerbils, and insects. The treasure map directed them over the dunes, into the oasis, and past the palm tree. There are two exceptions to this rule. If each item except the last one in a series is followed by a conjunction, do not use commas. I visited castles and museums and forts. Also, do not use a comma to separate groups of words that are considered to be one item. Every table in the diner was set with a knife and a fork, a cup and a saucer, and salt and pepper. Sometimes, two or more adjectives are placed before the noun they describe. RULE: Use commas to separate adjectives of equal ranks. There are two ways to tell whether adjectives in a sentence are of equal rank: 1. If the word and can be placed between the adjectives without changing the meaning, they are of equal rank. 2. If the order of the adjectives can be changed, they are of equal rank. A smooth, round stone was cupped in her hand. RULE: Do not use commas to separate adjectives that must appear in a specific order. If adding and or changing the order of the adjectives would cause the sentence to not make sense, you do not need commas. Right: It will take three brief hours to reach the park. Wrong: It will take three, brief hours to reach the park. RULE: Do not use a comma to separate the last adjective in a series from the noun it modifies. Right: A large, gentle camel stood by the road. Wrong: A large, gentle, camel stood by the road. Rule: When a sentence begins with an introductory word, phrase, or other structure, that word or phrase is usually separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. Hey, give me your camera quickly. Tommy, where are you? To conserve water, some plants drop their leaves. With Mark gone, Jake didn’t know how he would get home. Although the alarm had gone off, the police arrived too late. When a prepositional phrase of two words begins a sentence, a comma is not always necessary. In July we go to the lake. At night we heard the crickets. A parenthetical expression is a word or phrase that is not essential to the meaning of a sentence. These words or phrases generally add extra information to a basic sentence. Rule: Use commas to set off parenthetical expressions from the rest of the sentence. Parenthetical expressions in the middle of sentences require two commas. When at the end of a sentence, they only require one. Listen carefully, Jimmy, while I explain. Your answer is incorrect, however. They believe in her ability, of course. These flowers, not those, are ready to be picked. To determine if a phrase or clause should be set off with commas, decide whether the phrase or clause is essential or nonessential to the meaning of the sentence. Nonessential expressions can be left out without changing the meaning of the sentence. Use commas to set off nonessential expressions from the main clause. Appositives Appositives are phrases that tell more about a noun or pronoun. Sahara, a 1943 movie, takes place in North Africa. Participial Phrases Participles are separate verb phrases that can be arranged into phrases set off by commas. Pat, waiting in the van, asked us to hurry. Adjectival Clauses Adjective phrases that add information about a person, place, or thing can also be set off by commas. We cheered enthusiastically for Darius, who could lead us to the playing field. Commas are used to prevent dates from being unclear. RULE: When a date is made up of three or more parts, each part gets a comma, except for the month when followed by the day. On July 12, 1979, Aunt Mei arrived in America. Tuesday, March 18 was carefully circled on the calendar. When a date contains only a month and a year, commas are not necessary. I will graduate in June 2015. Most of the storms we experience in February 2014 dropped a lot of snow. Rule: When a geographical name is made up of a city and a state, use a comma after each item. They lived in Marietta, Georgia for several years and then moved to Sarasota, Florida. Mari went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to visit the art galleries. Numbers of one hundred or less and numbers made up of two words (like three thousand) are generally spelled out in words. Large numbers (ex: 8,463) are written in numerals. Commas make large numbers easier to read. Rule: With large numbers of four or more digits, count from the right and add a comma to the left of every third digit. 2,532 bricks 749,000 birds A population of 1,806,421 Rule: Use commas with three or more numbers in a series. Read pages 123, 124, and 125 carefully. Rule: Do not use commas with ZIP codes, telephone numbers, page numbers, years, serial numbers, or house numbers. My ZIP code is 07083. The number you need is (908) 867-5309. The answer is on page 2105. It is the year 2015. The serial number you are looking for is 402 36 3113. I live at 2201 Morrison Avenue. Commas are also used in addresses, the salutations (or greetings) of friendly letters, and the closings of letters. Rule: Use a comma after each item in an address made up of two or more parts (except for between the state and ZIP code). She is writing to Helen Hughes, 1500 Main Street, Faketown, New Jersey 00700. On an envelope or in a letter, you only need a comma between the town and state. Mr. Sterlacci 1000 Caldwell Avenue Union, New Jersey 07083 Rule: Use a comma after a salutation in a personal letter and after the closing in all letters. Dear Shawn, Sincerely, Commas are also used to separate direct quotations from other phrases in a sentence. Rule: Use commas to set off direct quotations from the rest of a sentence. Bret said, “Hold the door open.” “I can’t,” Lara replied, “because my arms are full.” What is a semicolon? A semicolon (;) joins two independent clauses and signals a longer pause than a comma. Sometimes two independent clauses are so closely connected that they make up a single sentence, rather than two separate sentences. Rule: Use a semicolon to join related independent clauses that are not joined by the conjunctions and, or, nor, for, but, so, or yet. Examples The fire began with a tossed match. Jamestown began to burn. The fire began with a tossed match; all of Jamestown began to burn. A semicolon should only be used when there is a close relationship between the two independent clauses. If they are not very closely related, they need to be written as two separate sentences OR joined with a conjunction. You can also combine sentences with three or more independent clauses with semicolons. The birds vanished; the sky grew dark; the pond was still. Semicolons help writers show how their ideas connect. Rule: Semicolons can be used in conjunction with conjunctive adverbs (adverbs that act as conjunctions) or transitions to show a strong relationship between separate thoughts. Conjunctive adverbs: also, besides, consequently, first, furthermore, however, indeed, instead, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, second, then, therefore, thus Transitional expressions: as a result, at this time, for instance, in fact, on the other hand, that is We were impressed with Martin’s knowledge of history; indeed, he was very well informed about Europe in the 1400s. Rule: Semicolons are also used in series when one or more item has a comma in it. The fans, cheering; the band, playing loudly; and the cheerleaders, yelling, helped inspire the team to play well. Three important dates to remember in American history are July 4, 1776; December 7, 1941; and February 10, 1984. What is a colon? A colon (:) is used to introduce lists of items and also is used in certain special situations. Rule: use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a list of items. Some orchids only grow in the following countries: Brazil, Costa Rica, and Peru. Rule: In most cases, you should not put a colon after a verb, and you should never put one after a preposition. WRONG: Veronica always orders: soup, salad, and dessert. RIGHT: Veronica always orders soup, salad, and dessert. Rule: Colons should also be used to introduce long or formal quotations. The sign clearly states the law: “Dogs within the park boundaries must wear a leash at all times.” Separating hours and minutes The time is 3:15 P.M. After a salutation in a formal letter To Whom It May Concern: On Warnings and Labels Warning: Thin Ice! Note: Don’t Annoy Mr. Sterlacci Quotation marks (“ ”) identify the spoken or written words of others. A direct quotation is a person’s exact speech or thoughts. An indirect quotation reports a person’s general meaning. Both types of quotation are fine when you are writing. Direct quotations, however, result in a livelier writing style. Rule: Put direct quotations in quotation marks. Kate said, “Williamsburg had the first theater.” “Where is the key?” asked Caroline. Rule: Indirect quotations do not require quotation marks. Margo said that she would take the dog out. Don wondered why the president hadn’t called him with the results. Commas help you set off introductory information so that the reader understands who is speaking. Writers usually identify a speaker with words and phrases like ‘he asked’ or ‘she said.’ They can introduce, conclude, or interrupt a quotation. Rule: With an introductory expression, place a comma after it and then write the quotation as if it were a full sentence. The guide explained, “All historical buildings should be treated with respect.” If an introductory expression is very long, use a colon instead of a comma. At the end of the practice, Sarah spoke of her dreams: “I hope to be able to complete a marathon by senior year.” Rule: With a concluding expression, write the quotation as a full sentence ending with a comma, a question mark, or an exclamation mark inside the quotation mark. “Could you show us one of the houses?” interrupted Barney. Rule: With an interrupting expression, place a comma at the end of the first part of the quotation and a comma after the interrupting expression. “What would we have done,” asked Corrina, “if we had lived in the path of the tornado?” You do not need to capitalize the second part of the sentence in a divided quotation. Rule: Commas and periods should always be inside the quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation marks should be if the quotation is a question or exclamation; otherwise, the mark should be on the outside. Joe asked, “Didn’t I already clean the room?” Did he say, “You have wasted your entire day”? Johnny protested loudly, “I helped clean it!” I can’t believe he said, “I like taking tests”! Double quotation marks (“ ”) are used for main quotations. Single quotation marks (‘ ’) are used for quotations inside of quotations. “Did you mean to say, ‘That’s my cat,’ or ‘That’s my hat’?” Lori asked. The rules for quotations are otherwise unchanged. Sometimes when we used direct quotations, information needs to be added to make things clearer. We use brackets ([ ]) to tell the reader that information came from someone else. “We [the students of Center Middle School] wish to express our support of the student council.” When writing a story, it is often necessary to use dialogue, or conversation between two or more people. Rule: When writing dialogue, be sure to indent a new paragraph every time the speaker changes. Use quotation marks to enclose the titles of short written works or works that are part of a bigger collection. EXAMPLES: Short story titles, chapter titles from books, titles of short poems, article titles, titles as part of a collection of stories, episode titles in television shows, song titles, titles for parts of long musical works When a work is longer, you do not use quotation marks. You must underline or italicize longer titles. If you handwrite, underline. If you type, italicize. Book titles: The Hobbit Long poems: Paradise Lost Magazines: People Newspapers: The New York Times Movies: Avatar Television Series: Empire A Long Work of Music: The Surprise Symphony Albums: Abbey Road Paintings: Mona Lisa Sculptures: The Thinker You must also underline or italicize the names of air, sea, and spacecraft. Apollo 11 The Titanic You also need to underline or italicize words that are used as names for themselves or words borrowed from other languages. How do you spell alligator? A Japanese obento is a homemade lunch. Hyphens (-) are used to combine words and to show a connection between syllables of words broken at end in lines. Rule: When writing out a two word number between twenty-one and ninety-nine, use a hyphen. I am thirty-one years old. Rule: Use hyphens when typing a fraction when you use it as an adjective. The glass is two-thirds full. Rule: Use a hyphen when using one of the following prefixes and a proper noun: antepost- antipre- pre-Columbian mid-August midpro- un- Rule: Use a hyphen in any words with these prefixes or suffixes: all- ex- all-American ex-husband mayor-elect self- -elect Certain compound words also need hyphens. Great-grandfather Secretary-treasurer Big-hearted Clearly-written Up-to-date Hyphens can also be used when a word runs over the end of a line. Do not overuse this because it makes writing seem choppy. Rule: Avoid dividing words between lines whenever possible; if you must do it, divide between syllables. The soccer coach’s pep talks are usually uninspiring and short. Put the hyphen at the end of the first line, NEVER at the beginning of the second line. And do NOT divide one syllable words. EVER. Similarly, do not divide words where one letter would stand alone (ver-y). Never divide proper nouns, or split words with –ed at the end. When a word has a hyphen already, don’t split it somewhere else. Using Apostrophes with Possessive Nouns Apostrophes are used with nouns to show ownership or possession. Rule: Add an apostrophe and –s to show the possessive case of most singular nouns and plural nouns that do not end in –s or –es. My dog’s favorite toy is a ball. The men’s trek up Mount Everest was strenuous. When a singular noun already ends in –s, still add an apostrophe. An iris’s colors are often purple and white. Rule: Add an apostrophe to show the possessive of plural nouns that end in –s or – es. Do not add –s. The bears’ den is hidden in the mountains. Both indefinite and personal pronouns can show possession. Rule: Use an apostrophe and –s with indefinite pronouns to show possession. Another’s preference Nobody else’s business Rule: DO NOT use an apostrophe with possessive personal pronouns. First Person Singular: My, Mine First Person Plural: Our, Ours Second Person Singular/Plural: Your, Yours Third Person Singular: His, Her, Hers, Its Third Person Plural: Their, Theirs Some of those pronouns act as adjectives. The spider caught a fly in its web. Others act as subjects and objects. Mine is the yellow crayon. Contractions are used in informal speech and writing, especially in dialogue because they create the sound of speech. Rule: Use an apostrophe in a contraction to show where one or more letters have been omitted. Common Contractions Verb + not Is not = isn’t Cannot = can’t Noun or pronoun + will I will = I’ll We will = we’ll Noun or pronoun + form of be You are = You’re Andy is = Andy’s Noun or pronoun + would She would = she’d Who would = who’d Rule: Avoid using contractions in formal speech or writing. Contractions are fine in dialogue and informal speech, but should be avoided for formal things. Informal: What’s the answer? Formal: What is the answer? Do not use apostrophes to form plurals, save for very specific instances. Rule: Use an apostrophe and –s to create the plural form of a single letter, a numeral, or a word used as a name for itself. Mind your p’s and q’s. Remember your please’s, please.