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By Geraldine Woods

Punctuation creates meaning by helping your reader understand where one thought ends and another begins, what’s quoted or possessed, when a list follows, and a host of other things. Use these grammar quick tips for correct punctuation:

Comma

  • To set apart the name of a person being addressed

  • To separate items in a list

  • After an introductory expression

  • To separate extra, nonessential statements from the rest of the sentence

Semicolon

  • To join two complete sentences without using and, but, and similar words

  • To separate items in a list when at least one item contains a comma

Colon

  • Following the Dear Sir or Madam line in a business letter

  • To introduce a long quotation or a list

Dash

  • To separate and emphasize an extra comment in a sentence

  • To show a range

Apostrophe

  • To show possession (Hermans hermit, the girls gym class)

  • To substitute for missing numerals (’07)

  • To substitute for missing letters in contractions (isnt, whats, and hes)

Hyphen

  • To divide words or syllables at the end of a line

  • To link two words, creating one description (second-string quarterback)

  • To attach prefixes to capitalized words (anti-Communist)