Punctuation Why Punctuation Matters

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Why Punctuation Matters

  • When asked to punctuate the following sentence, men and women often respond in different ways.

  • Men:

    • Woman, without her man, is nothing.
  • Women:

    • Woman: without her, man is nothing.

Periods & End Marks

  • Use a period: at the end of a declarative or imperative sentence

  • After initials and most abbreviations (p.250)

    • Dr. Michael C. Scott, 3 lb. 10 oz.
  • Use a question mark: interrogative sentence

  • Use an exclamation point: exclamatory sentence


  • Use a comma in a series:

  • A series of three or more items

    • Bungee jumping has joined the ranks of surfboarding, skateboarding, and sky surfing.
  • After “first,” “second,” and so on

    • Participants are asked to follow three simple rules: first, secure the bungee cord for safety…
  • Between adjectives that modify the same noun

    • A young, adventurous man jumped off a bridge.
  • *Copy the examples from page 252


  • Use a comma with introductory elements:

  • After an introductory word or an interjection that doesn’t need a !

    • Oh, bungee jumping is not for the faint-hearted.
  • After a prepositional phrase at the beginning of a sentence

    • At the beginning of a jump, a person feels a rush.
  • After a phrase or clause that begins a sentence

    • When the jump is over, the exhilaration remains.
  • *Copy the examples from page 253


  • Use a comma with an interrupter

  • Words that add extra information (but could be eliminated from the sentence without changing the meaning)

    • Bungee jumping, by the way, can be done in groups.
  • *Copy the examples from page 253


  • Use a comma to avoid confusion

  • When a sentence might be misinterpreted without it

    • Before the rodeo, cowboys competed against one another for fun.
  • Use a comma with quotations

  • To separate quotations from words like “he said,” “Greg replied,” and “Sheila asked”

    • “Mr. Cruz said, “The rodeo was born…”
  • *Copy the examples from p.255


  • Use a semicolon:

  • To join two thoughts as a sentence (compound sentence)

    • The first recorded Olympics took place in 776 B.C.; only one athletic event was held that year.
  • When commas occur within parts of a series

    • The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece; the second in Paris, France; and the third in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • *Copy the examples from p.258


  • Use a colon:

  • To introduce a list of items

    • The pentathlon included the following events: discus throw, long jump, javelin throw, running, and wrestling.
  • To introduce a long quotation

  • *Copy the examples on pages 258 and 259

Quotation Marks

  • Use quotation marks:

  • At the beginning and end of a direct quote

    • Bill said, “My favorite sport is baseball.”
  • For dialogue (a conversation between two or more people)

  • Around titles of magazine articles, chapters, short stories, TV episodes, essays, short poems, and songs

  • *Copy the examples on pages 260 and 262


  • Use italics:

  • For titles of books, newspapers, magazines, plays, movies, television series, book-length poems, long musical compositions, and works of art

  • Romeo and Juliet (play)

  • *Underline if italics are not available


  • Use an apostrophe:

  • To form the possessive forms of nouns

  • Singular noun + ’s (student’s book)

  • Plural noun + ’ (boys’ locker room)

  • In a contraction (they are = they’re)

  • (Possessive = showing possession/belonging to someone)

Checklist for Punctuation

  • Have I….

  • Ended every sentence with the appropriate end mark?

  • Used commas to separate items in a series?

  • Used apostrophes in possessive nouns?

  • Used italics and quotation marks correctly to set off titles of books, magazine articles, stories, artwork, and songs?

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