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Writingcenter punctuation

  1. Punctuation
  2. Colons & semicolons
  3. Colons To the left of the colon, you must have a complete sentence/independent clause.  I need to purchase the following items: parsnips; carrots; bread, both rye and wheat; and lettuce. Don‟t put a colon if there‟s a verb to the immediate left because that guarantees that you don‟t have a sentence to the left.  INCORRECT: I need to purchase:  INCORRECT: My favorites are:
  4. SEMIcolons To the left and right of the semicolon, you must have complete sentences/independent clauses.  My son, Samuel, is an amazing mathematician; however, I am terrible at math.  My son, Samuel, is an amazing mathematician; I am terrible at math. Use semicolons to separate items in a series if even one item has a comma.  I need to purchase the following items: parsnips; carrots; bread, both rye and wheat; and lettuce.
  5. Commas
  6. Commas in a series Ex. Jack bought a cute and fluffy and sweet puppy. Jack bought a cute, fluffy and sweet puppy. BUT . . . Jack bought a seven-month-old puppy. (The puppy is not seven, and month and old.)
  7. Commas with non-restrictive elements Ex. Patricia Garza, my accountant, is on vacation. (“My accountant” is not necessary to clarifying who Patricia Garza is. “Patricia Garza” is sufficiently specific. ) Ex. My oldest sister, Susan, is my best friend. (“Susan” is not necessary to clarifying who my oldest sister is. I can only have one oldest sister.)
  8. Commas with restrictive elements Ex. Accountants who rob their clients should not be able to go on vacation. (“who rob their clients” IS necessary to clarifying which accountants we‟re discussing. Not ALL accountants, but rather only those who rob their clients. We cannot frame this clause with commas.) Ex. Sisters in the Effinger family are often best friends. (“In my family” IS necessary to clarifying which sisters we‟re discussing. Not ALL sisters.)
  9. Commas with CITY AND STATE Ex. I am from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where my family still lives. (Place a comma after the city AND the state.)
  10. Commas with introductory phrases/clauses Ex. When our taxes are due, we have to file our returns. (“When our taxes are due” is an introductory clause that needs to be set off from the main sentence (subj: “we” and verb “have.”) (“When our taxes are due” is a dependent clause, and “we have to file our returns” is an independent clause, so DC, IC.)
  11. Commas when joining two complete sentences with a coordinating conjunction Coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or yet, so (FANBOYS) Ex. Our taxes are due, so we have to file our returns. Ex. Our taxes are due, and we have to file our returns.
  12. Apostrophes
  13. apostrophes Ex. The children‟s toys are not exclusively boys‟ toys or girls‟ toys, but they are everyone‟s toys.  The toys of the children = children‟s toys  The toys of the boys = boys‟ toys  The toys of the girls = girls‟ toys  The toys of everyone = everyone‟s toys
  15. Quotation marks Question marks and exclamation marks go inside & outside quotation marks, depending on the context.  Joe asked, “Where are the flowers?”  Where are the “rug rats”? Periods and commas go inside quotation marks. Always.  According to Smith, “we should „wear our notions of identity lightly.‟”  “You are not the baby‟s father,” Felicia said, “nor am I the baby‟s mother.” Semicolons and colons go outside quotation marks. Always.  My grandmother always said, “success depends on hard work”; “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”; and “stop whining and get to work.”
  16. Hyphens
  17. Hyphens Hyphenate compound adjectives—adjectives you have built by joining two or more words.  Joe bought a seven-month-old puppy.  Joe bought a six- to seven-month-old puppy.  The task must be done by him- or herself. Do not hyphenate adverbs modifying adjectives.  The clothing we donated was lightly worn. Hyphenate numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine.  Next Thursday, my grandmother will be eighty-nine. For an eighty-nine-year-old woman, she is quite spry.
  18. Dashes
  19. Dashes Dashes are used to set off parentheticals. As such, they usually come in pairs.  I love writers—Hemingway and Faulkner, among others—because their work brings me such pleasure. Do not include the second dash if the sentence ends where the second dash would go.  I love writers—Hemingway and Faulkner, among others.
  20. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #1: Dogs who do not have their up-to-date shots should not be allowed in the dog park and their owner(s) should be fined. A.Place a comma after "dogs." B.Remove the hyphens in "up-to-date." C.Place a comma after "park." D.Correct as written.
  21. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #2: Dr. Wilson was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on a dark and stormy night, but she now lives in San Marcos, Texas, where "the sun always shines, and everyone is happy". A.Remove the commas after "Oklahoma" and "Texas." B.Insert a comma after "dark." C.Place the period inside the quotation mark. D.Correct as written.
  22. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #3: Betsy Roof, painter extraordinaire, has produced her greatest masterpiece to date: a seascape featuring dolphins, whales, and manatees, all frolicking together--like children playing--in the moonlight. A.Remove the colon after "date." B.Replace the commas after dolphins, whales, and manatees with semicolons. C.Replace the dashes with comma. D.CORRECT AS WRITTEN.
  23. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #4: Despite the delay due to bad weather, the volunteers from San Marcos, Texas, finally delivered to the victims of the Moore tornado a donation of lightly used children's toys, to which the children exclaimed, "Thank you, Texas"! A.Hyphenate "lightly used." B."Children's" should be "childrens.'" C.The exclamation point should go inside the quotation mark. D.Correct as written
  24. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #5: Whenever I am writing five long papers for my courses, I wish professors who require twenty-five- page papers could be required to write their own; however taxing that may be. A.Place commas after "professors" and "papers.” B.Remove the hyphen between "five" and "page.” C.Remove the semicolon. D.Correct as written.
  25. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #6: My mother-in-law Charlene, is coming for a visit on July 4, 2013, but no one in my household, except me, will be there, so I, and I alone, must now think of fun activities that do not require going outside, spending money, or eating spicy food. A.Place a comma after "law.” B.Remove the comma after "2013.” C.Remove the comma after "there.” D.Correct as written.
  26. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #7: At the neighborhood party, the wind blew so hard that the ladies' hats flew away, the children's kites broke their lines, and everyone's day was ruined. A."Ladies'" should be "Lady's” B."Children's" should be "childrens'” C."everyone's" should be "everyones'” D.Correct as written
  27. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #8: Even in the twenty-first century, some people continue to own old, outdated and fuel guzzling cars that pollute the air, waste fuel and waste money, but these idiots do not seem to care; I, however, find their actions reprehensible. A.Place a hyphen between "first" and "century.” B.there should be a hyphen between "fuel" and "guzzling.” C.The semicolon after "care" should be a period. D.Correct as written.
  28. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #9: The requirements for becoming a member of the Kiwanas are: payment of the $200 dues, which is reduced to $150 after a five-year membership; attendance at the orientation that is always scheduled for the first week of August; and a recommendation from another Kiwana. A.Remove the colon after "are.” B.Replace the semicolons with commas. C.Place a comma after "orientation.” D.Correct as written.
  29. PUNCTUATION QUIZ #10: Wrestlers, who bite their opponents, should be fined; however, the sport, as well as the wrestlers themselves, is so popular that no one enforces the rules, and the violence continues. A.Remove the comma after "wrestlers.” B.Remove the commas after "wrestlers" and "opponents.” C.Replace the semicolon with a comma. D.Correct as written.