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The Basics: Punctuation, Capitalization, and Numbers

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Presentation describing some writing basics

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The Basics: Punctuation, Capitalization, and Numbers

  1. 1. The Basics Punctuation, Capitalization, and Numbers
  2. 2. Commas Prevent Confusion  Consider the following sentences:  If you cook Mary will cleanup.  While we were eating a grizzly bear approached our campsite.  When Jennifer was ready to iron her cat tripped on the cord.
  3. 3. Without commas, Mary gets cooked, the grizzly bear gets eaten and the cat gets ironed…..
  4. 4. Comma Rules  Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction joining independent phrases.  The seven coordinating conjunctions are: and, but, or, nor, for, so and yet.  Commas tell the reader that one independent clause has ended and another is beginning.  Ex: Nearly everyone has heard of the power of positive thinking, but I actually practice it in my day to day life.
  5. 5. Comma Rules  Use a comma after an introductory clause.  Ex: Having already eaten her dessert, Patty decided to eat her husband’s desert as well.  When giving a date, use a comma after the day of the month and after the year if your sentence continues.  Use a comma between all items in a list or series of three or more.  Ex: We bought paper, pencils, crayons, and paints for the kids to take to craft camp.
  6. 6. Exceptions to the Rules  If the two phrases are short, and there is no danger of confusion, the comma can be omitted. (You don’t have to use a comma every time you want the reader to take a breath.)  Don’t use a comma to separate coordinate word groups that are not independent.  Ex: John brought home a new computer and later went shopping to buy some computer self- help books. (Although the word “and” is used, the two phrases that surround it are not independent of each other.)
  7. 7. Transitional Expressions  Serve as bridges between sentences or parts of sentences.  When these expressions appear between independent clauses, the transitional expression is preceded by a semi colon, and usually followed by a comma.  Exception to the rule - If a transitional expression blends smoothly with the rest of the sentence, calling for no pause from the reader, it does not need to be set off by a comma. Expressions like certainly, also, at least, consequently, indeed, of course, perhaps, moreover, then and therefore do not always call for a pause.
  8. 8. The Semicolon  Used to connect major sentence elements of equal grammatical rank – when the phrases are closely related and not separated by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so or yet.)  Ex: I love raspberries; I think they are the sweetest fruit on earth!  If clauses are closely related and the relation is clear without a conjunction, they may be linked with a semicolon instead.  Ex: I’ve been healthy and I’ve been ill and healthy is better. This could be written like this – I’ve been healthy and I’ve been ill; healthy is better.
  9. 9. Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional expression when you want the reader to pause. Transitional Expressions include Conjunctive Adverbs and Transitional Phrases  Examples of conjunctive adverbs: accordingly, also, anyway, besides, consequently, conversely, finally, furthermore, hence, however, incidentally, likewise, nevertheless, otherwise, subsequently, therefore, and thus  Examples of transitional phrases: after all, as a matter of fact, as a result, at the same time, even so, for example, for instance, in addition, in conclusion, in fact, in other words, in the first place, on the contrary, and on the other hand
  10. 10. Semicolon Rules  Use between items in a series to help the readers understand the major groupings.  Use to emphasize a sharp contrast between clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction.  Ex: We hate some people because we do not understand them; and we never get a chance to understand them because we hate them.
  11. 11. The Colon  Used primarily to draw attention to the words that follow it.  Use after an independent clause to direct attention to a list, appositive or a quotation.  Use between independent clauses if the second summarizes or explains the first.  Ex: I read the book at least 100 times: I felt like it was written just for me.
  12. 12. Capitalization Rules  Capitalize the first letter of proper nouns. Proper nouns are names of specific persons, places, nationalities, particular courses, races, government departments, organizations, political parties, historical periods, sacred books, names for deities and religions.
  13. 13. Capitalization Rules  Capitalize names of titles when you also include the name of the person; i.e., Professor Smith. Do not capitalize the title just to make the title more important; i.e., I spoke with my professor about it.  Capitalize all key words in titles and subtitles of books, articles, songs and online documents.  Capitalize the names of schools – but not the types of schools.
  14. 14. Number Rules  If a number has one or two words, spell it out.  If a sentence begins with a number, spell it out if it is one or two words or rewrite the sentence.  For numbers more than two words (ex: 235) use the number.

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