• Period .
• End of declarative sentence (and mild imperative)
• I am going to the grocery store.
• Pick up that paper.
• After some abbreviations: Dr., Mrs., _____, ______
• Between dollars and cents
• $10.25 $109.47 __________
• After numbers and letters in a list or outline
• Question Mark ?
• End of interrogative sentence
• Are you making that noise?
• Exclamation point !
• End of an exclamatory sentence (and emphatic
• I thought that was exhilarating!
• Leave my house!
• After an emphatic interjection
• Wow! Those fireworks were awesome!
• Apostrophe ’
• Use ‘s to show possession for singular nouns, plural
nouns not ending in –s, indefinite pronouns, and
• Al’s farm someone’s car
NASA’s schedule children’s books
• Important note: Personal pronouns do not use
• his hers its
• Use ‘ to show possession for plural nouns ending in –s.
• boys’ games babies’ toys
• Shows omissions in contractions and numbers
• don’t they’ll back in ‘98
• Shows plural of symbols
• A’s 5’s *’s
• For a quotation within a quotation
• He said, “Robert Frost wrote the poem ’The Road Not
• Important note: An apostrophe is not used to indicate
plurals of words:
• The Smiths The Joneses the cows
• After direct address
Lily, let the kitty cat in, please.
• Before the coordinating conjunction in a compound
I like broccoli, but I love asparagus.
• After introductory phrases (can be omitted if not needed
for clear meaning)
From the deck, I could not see my father on the dock.
Seeing her father, the child ran up the steps.
• After introductory words
Yes, I can go.
• To separate words, phrases, and clauses in a series (Often
the comma before the conjunction is omitted.)
I bought soap, shampoo, and toothpaste.
• Separate adjectives you can put and between and not
change the meaning
I walked along the rushing, shallow creek. I sank
into the small, still pool.
• After geographical names (places)
He has lived in Walhalla, South Carolina, for ten
• After items in dates
He wrote the letter on Monday, November
10, 1937, while in the hospital.
• After mild interjections
Gee, I like that.
• After the salutation of a friendly letter
Dear Billy, Dear Aunt Lola,
• After the closing of any letter
Sincerely, Your friend,
• To connect sentencess clauses not linked by a
coordinating conjunction in compound sentence I;I
My daddy fixed breakfast; my mommy packed my
• To separate elements in a series that already contains
I subscribe to a computer magazine that includes
reviews of new,better-designed hardware;
descriptions of inexpensive, easy-to-use software;
advice from experienced, clever experts; and
programs that help me keep track of my files.
• Introduce a list or example
We packed three things: a toothbrush, a
bathing suit, and a towel.
• Important note: Colons don’t usually follow
• In time 11:25 A.M.
• After salutation in business letter Dear Sir:
• Between titles and subtitles. Walt Whitman:
Poet of America
• To set off direct quotations and dialogue
Benjamin Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny
“Do you own this land?” I asked him.
He shook his head. “The land belongs to Allah,” he
• Enclose the titles of short works such as stories, essays,
poems, and magazine articles
“Flowers for Algernon”
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
“Eat Hot Dogs and Lose Weight”
Underline or Italics
• Titles of books, magazines, newspapers, plays,
movies, TV series, works of art , comic strips,
Gone With the Wind
• Names of specific ships, spacecraft, planes,
the Yorktown Discovery
• Between terms to show either can be used
All students were supposed to bring a
• Shows something is left out
He was speaking from the back of the
train … and saying he would
continue the race.
• Reflects hesitation
Merlin, … may I speak with you
• To link two words to form a compound
hard-boiled egg forget-me-nots
• Divide words at the end of a line
in-flate par-ty sci-ence
• Fractions written as words
• In numbers 21 to 99
• Mark an abrupt break in thought or change in
When I was six, I made my mother a little hat
— out of her new blouse.
She was — punchbuggy! — upside down on
the monkey bars.
• After an introductory list
Beautiful, talented, well-spoken — she was
all of these.
• Set off nonessential matter
Following the rules (up to a point), we
could spell fish this way: ghoti.
• Replaces parentheses within parentheses
(Johnson notes, “At this time [Dickens]
began to weaken.”)