Punctuation is the term used for the marks, such as the period/full stop, comma, dash, and parentheses, used to separate structural units, and perform other roles that clarify the meaning.

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Is “ ’s ” ever correct for pluralization?

A relatively modern dictionary (I don’t know which one, because we’ve cut out the pages and used them as wallpaper in our bathroom, but I know it’s less than 20 years old) indicates that R’s is one ...
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1answer
307 views

Confused as to whether I should use commas or not

I am getting some gifts engraved for my wedding party and I can't decide whether to use commas or not. Should it be: Thank you Neil for being our Usher or: Thank you, Neil, for being our ...
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2answers
449 views

Finding out the names of symbols

Is there a comprehensive list on the web where I can find the names of common symbols? Google unfortunately doesn't search on symbols, so it is pretty much useless there. Specifically, what is ` ...
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2answers
487 views

Introducing a paragraph that also contains colons

At work, sometimes I have to send people password reminders. Our experience shows that about half the time when people think they don't remember their password, they're actually mistyping their login ...
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2answers
5k views

Position of question mark when sentence doesn't end with question

This is something that has always bugged me. I am never sure where to place the question mark, or whether to place it at all when the end of the sentence does not finish with a question, or a number ...
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14answers
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If an insertion in parentheses ends with a smiley, how do I distinguish between the two?

I know smileys are not part of written language (yet), and any questions about them are irrelevant to linguistics and are kind of not serious. So take my question with a smiley then. It bugs me ...
5
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1answer
953 views

A colon after “following”

When I reference to the next sentence or sentences using the term following, is the preferred way to use a colon or a full stop? An example: Consider the sentence 'I wash the clothes'. Replacing ...
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3answers
9k views

Comma in compound/complex sentences

Is there a rule, which states that one must or must not use comma before "then" in a sentence like this: If you can read this, then you might want to answer this question.
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1answer
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“If” with implicit “then” question: Should a comma be used?

Consider the following phrase: If the fruit is an apple, it should be given to children. Is the comma after apple necessary? Is it optional? Is it wrong?
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4answers
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Is it ever correct to have a space before a question or exclamation mark?

In written English (mainly online) I often come across sentences ending with a question or an exclamation mark with a space before it. Is it always just an error or a typo? Or there are cases when it ...
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3answers
5k views

Parentheses vs. double commas vs. dashes to provide additional detail

When do you use commas and when do you use parentheses to provide more detail about something? For example: The suspect, Tom Wilson, is now being charged with murder. The suspect (Tom Wilson) is ...
6
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2answers
234 views

Henry Adams’s use of punctuation, “:—” [duplicate]

I’ve never seen the construction before, except in Spanish for dialogue and Toni Morrison using the variation “;—” in Beloved for denoting a strong pause (well, that’s what we decided in my English ...
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3answers
667 views

What punctuation is this sentence missing?

One big ass mistake America. I'm thinking it should be: One big ass mistake, America.
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3answers
12k views

Usage of “he himself”

The boy's innate goodness will withstand the challenges because unless he himself wants to turn evil, [...]. My teacher thinks that commas should set off the word "himself", but I disagree. Who ...
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2answers
2k views

Plural name apostrophe position

At my English lesson the native English speaker couldn’t tell what is correct and promised to search it for us! He told us that if James is one person then we should write James' Book but if ...
9
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2answers
916 views

When can I use an interrobang‽

I have only ever seen the interrobang discussed as a novelty; I've never seen it used in context. Is there a situation in which its use is acceptable?
5
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1answer
383 views

Confusion between colon and dash

For example, take a look at the following sentence: There’s nothing to see — no one can handle you, dear. What are the general guidelines?
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3answers
1k views

Is Hyphen Really the Longer – line instead of the shorter dash - line?

I had a discussion with some people today on hyphen and dashes. They had concluded that hyphen, which is used to link two connecting words (book-bag) is the longer line – instead of the shorter line ...
9
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4answers
22k views

Handling quotes ending in exclamation or question marks [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it correct to use “punctuation outside of the quotations”, or “inside?” I've always had trouble dealing with quotes ending in question marks. ...
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4answers
12k views

Correct spelling/italicization of e.g., i.e.?

Should e.g. and i.e. have periods, e.g. "e.g.", or no periods, eg "eg"? Should they be italicized, e.g. "i.e." or not, eg "i.e"?
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1answer
2k views

How are embedded quotations used?

How would embedded quotations be used when quoting from passages/sources within an essay? What would be the difference between normal quotations and embedded quotations?
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3answers
58k views

What's the difference between using single and double quotation marks/inverted commas?

I'm quite unsure regarding the usage of single quotation marks (') and double quotation marks (") in English. I had thought that double quotation marks were usually used to quote sentences from ...
6
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1answer
609 views

How do I take a partial quotation that ends with a question mark (but not within my quote)?

I am in the process of writing a paper on Shakespeare's Macbeth, and I want to take a quotation from the following passage: Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life And live a coward in thine ...
8
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3answers
631 views

A phrase as an interjection

Often in spoken English, I see one sentence or phrase "set up" another much like an interjection. For example: I forgot to ask. Did you find that book I told you about? How do you generally ...
6
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4answers
747 views

How should this sentence be punctuated?

I'm not sure how to punctuate the following sentence: Besides the managers, Pete, John and Eric, also the secretary, Mary, came along to the meeting. I think I messed up completely with comma ...
2
votes
1answer
759 views

How to express a list within a sentence?

I always forget how to express a list within a sentence. Let's say I have the following sentence: I attached two files, files and database. Can I use a "-" or a ";" instead of the comma? ...
5
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1answer
2k views

Do I need a comma after “when” in this example?

I do not know if anything is getting created when the contract gets uploaded. Does this sentence warrant a comma after "when"?
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2answers
899 views

How to connect a word and a phrase with a hyphen?

For example, "file system" and "related". Is it "file system-related"? It will appear as if it is a compound of "file" and "system-related", won't it?
5
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2answers
893 views

Tending to misuse comma

I tend to misuse commas in large way. Whenever I draft a professional mail, I get engrossed in the points, and somewhere along the way I get the feeling that this sentence is too long. I then ...
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3answers
3k views

Punctuation with units

I remember reading somewhere that if a unit is abbreviated as one character, there must not be a space between the number and the unit (e.g., 5m, 26K). If the unit is abbreviated as two or more ...
175
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15answers
21k views

How many spaces should come after a period/full stop?

In the past — or at least, when I was in elementary school — periods/full stops were followed by two spaces. Lately, it's become more and more common to see just one space. In the modern ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Is it proper usage to replace a comma in a list with a semi-colon in this situation (see details)?

While writing a proposal at work today I needed to mention a list of things and within that list were multi-part items. It seems like replacing the comma with a semi-colon in this situation would make ...
6
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2answers
775 views

Should the second part of a semicolon-separated sentence be capitalised?

In another question this example of semicolon usage is given: When dinosaurs agree on something, they often high-five one another; dinosaurs are all about high-fives. However, I have also seen ...
5
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1answer
495 views

Using Multiple Sentence Stoppers? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a standard ordering for the question mark and the exclamation mark used together? When writing an exclamation-question like: What you you mean, I'm fired ...
18
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2answers
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Should you use a comma/period after “Thanks”/“Regards” in email signatures?

Normal practice is to end emails with a Thanks or Regards. My question is should there be a comma or a period or nothing after Thanks/Regards? Thanks, John Doe Or Thanks. John ...
8
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1answer
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How should I use quotation marks in sections of multiline dialogue?

If I want to introduce a “pause” between lines of dialogue from the same person by inserting a spacing line, how should I use the quotation marks correctly to indicate continued dialogue? I really ...
14
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2answers
59k views

What is the proper use of [square brackets] in quotes?

I sometimes see square brackets used while quoting. My assumption is that they are replacing a pronoun with what the object of the pronoun, but I never know for sure because I don't usually get to ...
12
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6answers
13k views

Should I write “comma/period” or “comma / period”?

I usually put a space before, and after / when indicating alternatives, such as in the following sentence. We review a module / theme per user. Is it correct, or should I re-write the sentence ...
7
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4answers
19k views

In which cases is a comma/period placed inside or outside of parentheses?

Are there cases where a period is placed inside parentheses? In which cases the period (or a comma) should be placed inside the parentheses?
93
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1answer
63k views

When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?

I generally know how to use a hyphen, but when should I use an en-dash instead of an em-dash, or when should I use a hyphen instead of an em-dash?
6
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1answer
485 views

When did modern punctuation emerge?

Medieval punctuation was different from the one we use now; for example, Medieval punctuation included punctus, punctus versus, and punctus flexus. When did their equivalent in modern English ...
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2answers
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Where does the period go in an MLA in-text citation?

I've always been confused when citing like: "The windows misted over from the heat and the smoke inside.” (Hemingway 1) Does the period go inside the quotes (as above)? Or after the citation ...
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4answers
313 views

Punctuation for and clarity of repeating verbs

Suppose I conduct an online survey and am reporting the findings to all those who were expected to respond. Consider this sentence: All of you who responded opined that backups are an essential ...
4
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3answers
3k views

How should “Home sweet home” be punctuated?

A quick survey of the internet reveals many instances of "home sweet home", no punctuation. But doesn't "home, sweet home" make the most sense?
25
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3answers
2k views

How should I punctuate around quotes?

The American convention in quotations is (typically) to place punctuation inside quoted text. But I always run into situations where the punctuation of the quote interferes with the punctuation of the ...
14
votes
2answers
38k views

When ending a list with “etc”, should there be a comma before “etc”?

When listing items and ending the list with "etc", should there be a comma before "etc"? E.g. red, green, blue, etc or red, green, blue etc Related question, though this one involves the word ...
5
votes
3answers
24k views

When should one use the comma versus the semicolon, and vice versa?

I cannot understand the difference between the comma and semicolon. Can you please clarify?
5
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3answers
409 views

What is a comma splice?

Is this a comma splice? What makes a sentence a comma splice? Being left at the altar on her wedding day, Pamela became furious.
12
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3answers
912 views

Colons and semi-colons

I've seen a few questions on this site relating to semi-colons, which I believe I correctly understand, but what I'm not as clear about is colons. For example: The man ate the apple; it tasted ...
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2answers
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What is the correct possessive for nouns ending in “‑s”?

What is the possessive of a noun ending in ‑s? Are these both right, or is the second one wrong? the boys' books the boss' car