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Arts & Letters Daily

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Punctuation - Level II

Punctuation

Notes

Punctuation marks are governed by many rules. Here are some of them.

1. Period
The period is used to indicate the following:

  • End of a sentence that makes a statement or indirect question

I will meet you in the library. (statement)
I wonder if you could bring that special article with you. (Indirect question or request)

  • Mark an abbreviation

Mr. R. Davidson, Dr. Jones, 10 A.M., Cdn., US

2. Question Mark

Question mark is used to indicate the following:

  • End of a direct question.

When will you arrive?

  • Mark questionable dates or numbers

I need (?) more reference books.

3. Exclamation Mark

The exclamation mark is used to indicate the following:

  • Marking emphasis

I really mean it this time!

  • Use only one exclamation mark

What a surprise to see you! (only one exclamation mark)

  • Not with other punctuation marks

Are you serious? (do not use exclamation mark)

4. Comma

The comma is used to indicate the following:

  • Set off independent clauses – before a conjunction (usually)

I was ready to write my report, but I did not have access to a computer.

  • Replaced with a semicolon when one of the clauses includes a comma

I would like to graduate in May, 2002; but I may have to wait till May, 2003.

  • Set off items in a series but not before a series

I would like to invite my parents, my sister and a few close friends for my graduation.

  • Separate coordinate adjectives

My sister drove through a fierce, blinding snowstorm.

  • Set off introductory elements such as adverb clause, phrase, transition expression

Although I received A’s in all my exams, I will not receive a gold medal. (adverb clause)

Without exception, Jim met all the course requirements. (Phrase)

Unfortunately, he missed one deadline. (transition expression)

  • Adverbs at the beginning of a sentence

That technology, according to my instructor, was developed in the nineteenth century.

  • Transition expressions

Unfortunately, he missed one deadline.

  • Separate items in dates and addresses

My teacher asked me to meet him on Thursday, January 17, at the Conference in Houston, Texas.

  • After a salutation or closing in a letter

Dear Betty,
Thank you for the wonderful reception.
We hope to see you again soon.
Sincerely,
Mary and Bill

  • Place a comma after third digit after the decimal

Jim won $150,000.00 in the Lottery.

  • Not with coordinating conjunctions (neither/nor)

When we attended university, we had access to neither calculators nor computers.

  • Not between two elements of a compound subject, verb or object.

John and Betty both attend university. (compound subject)

The children ran and jumped for joy. (compound verb)

5. Semicolon
The semicolon is used to indicate the following:

  • Separate independent clauses when the clauses are closely related

Computers have become a household item; everyone uses them.

  • Not to be used between unequal parts

He won top honours in Biology which was his favorite subject. (independent and dependent clause)

6. Colon
The colon is used to indicate the following:

  • Set off a list or series

Bring the following supplies to your first art class: paints, brush, cleaner and smock.

  • The salutation in a business letter

Dear Dr. Small:
I am pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has accepted your proposal.

  • Separate titles from subtitles, minutes from hours

The Ingenuity Gap: How Can We Solve The Problems Of The Future?
I will meet you at 11:30 A. M. for a lunch meeting.

7. Apostrophe
The apostrophe is used to indicate the following:

  • Form a possessive case of singular nouns and indefinite pronouns

The audience enjoyed Sally’s performance last night. (singular noun)
One must always consider one’s options carefully

  • Singular nouns ending in ‘s’ except where this creates an awkward-sounding word

The class’s time schedule was changed again.
For goodness’ sake.

  • Only an apostrophe for regular plural words ending in ‘s

The tenants’ notice to vacate the suite was submitted too late.

  • Add ‘s’ to form the possessive case for irregular plural nouns

Father cleaned up the children’s toys.

  • Do not use apostrophe with plural nouns that are not possessive

All classes were cancelled.

  • Do not use with personal pronouns

These books must be yours.

  • Use to show omission of letter

Let’s all work together. (Let us)

8. Quotation Marks
Quotation marks are used to indicate the following:

  • Use a pair of quotation marks to indicate a direct (word for word) quotation from another source

We remember Nixon’s famous words, “I am not a crook”.

  • Use a pair of quotation marks to indicate the spoken words of a person

“When you come to visit us,” said my aunt, “bring your children.”

  • Separate direct spoken words from the speaker with a comma. Start a new paragraph with each new speaker

Richard said, “Never leave your papers till the last minute.”
“Is Paris the capital of France,” asked Jane?

  • Quotation marks belong outside of commas and periods

“When you come to visit us,” said my aunt, “bring your children.”
Richard said, “Never leave your papers till the last minute.”

9. Dash
The dash is used to indicate the following:

  • Dashes offer a loose or casual tone to text – do not overuse
  • Use a dash to call attention to the material they set off

The Government could not afford to jump to conclusions about terrorism – any conclusions.

10. Parenthesis
Parentheses are used to indicate the following:

  • Used to set off nonessential materials that expand, clarify, define or illustrate

It took Jim two tries (one in 1983 and a second in 1987) to successfully swim the channel.

Assignment

Enter the correct punctuation marks in the blank spaces. Enter the number for the

punctuation rule that applies in the spaces below the sentence.

1. John ___ and Betty both attend university.

Punctuation rule ___

2. The children ran ___ and jumped for joy.

Punctuation rule ___

3. Computers have become a household item ____ everyone uses them.

Punctuation rule ___

4. He won top honors in Biology ___ which was his favorite subject.

Punctuation rule ___

5. Bring the following supplies to your first art class ____ paints ____ brush ____ cleaner and an apron.

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

6. Dear Dr ____ Small ____

I am pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has accepted your Proposal.

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

7. I will meet you at 11___ 30 A ____ M ____ for a lunch meeting.

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

8. Bob wrote an outstanding paper ____ on climate change.

Punctuation rule ___

9. The audience enjoyed Sally ____ s performance last night.

Punctuation rule ___

10.  One must always consider one ____s options carefully.

Punctuation rule ___

11.  The class ____ s time schedule was changed again.

Punctuation rule ___

12.  For goodness ____ sake ____ talk to me ____

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

13.  Two weeks ____ notice is required to vacate a suite.

Punctuation rule ___

14.  Father cleaned up the children ____ s toys.

Punctuation rule ___

15.  Are all classes ____ including Biology ____ cancelled for tomorrow ____

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

16.  The Central Intelligence Agency  ____ CIA did its work diligently.

Punctuation rule ___

17.  Richard said ____ ____ Never leave your papers till the last minute ____ ____

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

18.  ____ Is Paris the capital of France ____ ____ asked Jane ____

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

19.  The Government could not afford to jump to conclusions ____ any conclusions ____ about terrorism.

Punctuation rule ___

Punctuation rule ___

20.  Athletes stretch ____ and bend before strenuous training sessions.

Punctuation rule ___

Answer Key

Punctuation

1. John(1) and Betty both attend university.

Answer: no punctuation marks required – 11

2. The children ran(1) and jumped for joy.

Answer: no punctuation marks required – 11

3. Computers have become a household item(1) everyone uses them.

Answer: semicolon – 5

4. He won top honors in Biology(1) which was his favorite subject.

Answer: no puntuation marks required – 11

5. Bring the following supplies to your first art class(1) paints(2) brush(3) cleaner and an apron(4)

Answer: colon – 6; comma – 4; comma – 4

6. Dear Dr(1) Small(2)

I am pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has accepted your Proposal.

Answer: period; colon

7. I will meet you at 11(1)30 A(2) M(3) for a lunch meeting.

Answer: colon – 3; period – 1; period – 1

8. Bob wrote an outstanding paper(1) on climate change.

Answer: no punctuation marks required – 11

9. The audience enjoyed Sally (1)s performance last night.

Answer: apostrophe – 7

10. One must always consider one(1)s options carefully.

Answer: apostrophe – 7

11. The class(1)s time schedule was changed again.

Answer: apostrophe – 7

12. For goodness sake(2) talk to me.

Answer: apostrophe; comma; exclamation mark

13. Two weeks(1) notice is required to vacate a suite.

Answer: apostrophe – 7

14. Father cleaned up the children(1)s toys.

Answer: apostrophe – 7

15. Are all classes(1) including Biology(2) cancelled for tomorrow (3)

Answer: comma – 4; comma – 4;question mark – 2

16. The Central Intelligence Agency (1)CIA did its work diligently.

Answer: 6 – parentheses – 10

17. Richard said(1) (2)Never leave your papers till the last minute(3) (4)

Answer: comma – 4; quotation Marks – 8; period – 5; quotation marks – 8

18. (1)Is Paris the capital of France(2) (3)asked Jane(4)

Answer: quotation Marks – 8; question Mark – 2; quotation Marks – 8; period – 1

19. The Government could not afford to jump to conclusions(1) any conclusions(2) about terrorism.

Answer: dash – 9; dash – 9

20. Athletes stretch (1) and bend before strenuous training sessions.

Answer: 13 – no punctuation required – 11