Punctuation & Capitalization

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How to Attach Sentences with a Semicolon

If you really want to impress your English teacher, try using semicolons to attach sentences with connected thoughts. The semicolon is a funny little punctuation mark; it functions as a pit stop between [more…]

How to Punctuate Sentences with Endmarks

Endmarks include periods (.), question marks (?), exclamation points (!), or ellipsises ( . . .). You use these punctuation marks to show that a sentence has come to an end. When you speak, your body language [more…]

How to Show Possession with Proper Nouns

Because companies, stores, and organizations also own things, you need a way to express possession. In English, these proper nouns — whether they are singular or plural — require you to use apostrophes [more…]

How to Show Possession for Nouns That End in S

Singular nouns that end in s present special problems. Imagine that your last name is Woods (and you teach English grammar). Your name is singular, because you are only one person. When students talk about [more…]

How to Avoid Common Apostrophe Errors with Pronouns

English supplies pronouns for ownership. Some possessive pronouns are my, your, his, her, its, our, and their.Here’s a rule so important — and so often broken — that you should consider tattooing it on [more…]

How to Use Apostrophes to Form Contractions

In English you can use contractions to shorten a word by removing one letter or more and substituting an apostrophe in the same spot. For example, chop [more…]

How to Punctuate Quotations in Statements

To write proper English, you need to follow all the punctuation rules, even the illogical ones. Punctuation with quotations gives many people problems. Here you look at the proper punctuation for statements [more…]

How to Punctuate Quotations with Question Marks

English grammarians have devised a special set of rules for punctuating quotations that are questions. Pop quiz: Does the question mark go inside or outside of the quotation mark? Well, the answer is, [more…]

Punctuating Quotations with Exclamation Points and Semicolons

In English, the rules for using quotation marks with exclamation points follow the same general rules as question marks. And although you aren’t likely to use quotation marks with semicolons, in case you [more…]

How to Form Plural Possessives in English

The plurals of most English nouns already end with the letter s. To show ownership, all you do is add an apostrophe after the s. Many people don’t believe it, but it is true. Take a look at these examples [more…]

When to Put Titles in Quotation Marks

In your writing, sometimes you may need to include the title of a magazine, the headline of a newspaper article, the title of a song or movie, and so on. In English, when punctuating these magazine titles [more…]

How to Use Commas in a Series

In English you can use series commas when you list items. Separating items in a list helps clarify things. Imagine that you text a shopping list to your roommate Charlie, who’s at the store shopping for [more…]

Rules for Punctuating Quotations inside Quotations

In English, rules about punctuation with quotation marks are little complicated. But here is the most complicated situation of all. Sometimes you need to place a quotation inside a quotation. Yikes. How [more…]

How to Use Hyphens in Your Writing

Hyphens are multipurpose punctuation marks. They help you maneuver through unexpected line breaks, separate parts of compound words, write certain numbers, and create one description from two words. Here [more…]

When Do You Capitalize References to People?

If human beings were called only by their names, life would be much simpler, at least in terms of capital letters and English grammar rules. But most people pick up a few titles and some relatives as they [more…]

When Do You Capitalize Geographic Terms?

Even if nothing more than your imagination leaves the living room, you still need to know the rules for capitalizing the names of places, languages, geographical features, regions, and directions. And, [more…]

How to Separate a List of Descriptions with Commas

In English, writers often string together a bunch of single-word descriptions, adjectives, in grammar lingo. If you have a set of descriptions, you probably have a set of commas also. Take a look at the [more…]

When to Use Commas around a Clause

The descriptions in a sentence may be longer than one word. You may have a subject-verb expression (which grammarians call a clause) or a verb form (in technical terms, a [more…]

How to Use Commas in Addresses and Dates

Commas are good, all-purpose separators. They won’t keep you and your worst enemy apart, but they do a fine job on addresses and dates — especially when items that are usually placed on individual lines [more…]

How to Use Commas with Introductory Words and Phrases

In English, the rule is that you must separate words that aren’t part of the sentence but instead comment on the meaning of the sentence. Put another way, [more…]

How to Use Commas to Join Two Complete Sentences

In English, when you join two complete sentences with the conjunctions and, or, but, nor, yet, so, or for, place a comma before the conjunction. If you use just a comma, you create a comma splice and your [more…]

How to Use Long and Short Dashes in Your Writing

Long dashes — what grammarians call em dashes — are dramatic. Those long straight lines draw your eye and hold your attention. But long dashes aren’t just show-offs. They insert information into a sentence [more…]

Basics Rules for Using Capital Letters in Writing

In formal writing you don’t want to sprinkle caps in indiscriminately, nor do you want to neglect to cap proper nouns and names that should be capped. English rules for using capital letters aren’t all [more…]

How to Use Colons in Your Writing

A colon is one dot on top of another ( : ). It appears when a simple comma isn’t strong enough. (It also shows up in those smiley faces — the so-called [more…]

When Do You Capitalize Terms about Time?

You use terms about time to describe historical events and eras, to distinguish morning from afternoon, and to write about the season of the year. But what do you capitalize if you want to impress your [more…]

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