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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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
283 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 ...
4
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3answers
969 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
25k 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 is ...
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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
456 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
2k 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
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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. Any ...
14
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4answers
27k 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"?
4
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1answer
3k 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?
36
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6answers
183k 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 ...
7
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1answer
874 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
864 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
1k 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
834 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
3k 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
2k 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
2k 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 ...
14
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3answers
9k 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 ...
222
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15answers
32k 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 ...
11
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1answer
3k 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 ...
7
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2answers
1k 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
642 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 ...
24
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2answers
42k views

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 ...
10
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1answer
22k views

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 don’...
25
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2answers
209k 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 ...
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6answers
27k 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 ...
12
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4answers
61k 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?
197
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1answer
256k 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
515 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 ...
5
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3answers
130k views

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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vote
4answers
353 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 ...
5
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3answers
7k 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?
40
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4answers
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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 ...
27
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2answers
84k 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 ...
6
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3answers
77k 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
505 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.
13
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3answers
2k 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 ...
71
votes
2answers
87k views

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
22
votes
7answers
37k views

Where should the comma be placed in the salutation of a letter?

Sometimes I see a comma after the proper name: Hello Mr. Black, In order to give you.... But my native language is not English and I think that the comma in this phrase should be placed ...
74
votes
7answers
23k views

When is it necessary to use a hyphen in writing a compound word?

Some words are written without hyphens (nonaggression, nonbeliever), and some words are written with a hyphen (well-intentioned). Is there a schema in the use of a hyphen?
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5answers
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Punctuation around abbreviations

I always stumble when using abbreviations in a sentence, as they inherently contain a period in them. How do I use a comma or a semicolon after an abbreviation? How about a period? E.g. (This is an ...
8
votes
3answers
5k views

What are the correct ways to express parenthetical comments?

I've seen parenthetical comments that are inserted mid-sentence (like this) and I've also seen parenthetical comments that are inserted after the terminal punctuation symbol of a sentence. (Like this.)...
38
votes
10answers
85k views

Is there a standard ordering for the question mark and the exclamation mark used together?

We've all wanted to express certain questions, rhetorical or not, with annoyance, excitement, surprise, frustration and so on. What better way than with both a question mark (?) and an exclamation ...
41
votes
1answer
53k views

Do you capitalize both parts of a hyphenated word in a title?

Do you capitalize both parts of a hyphenated word in a title? "My Ex-Wife Hates Me" or "My Ex-wife Hates Me"
116
votes
15answers
140k views

Should I put a comma before the last item in a list?

Should I put a comma before last item in list? I would like crackers, cheese and some soda. I would like crackers, cheese, and some soda.
19
votes
2answers
74k views

In what cases should I use a comma after “please”?

As far as I can see from different texts, there seems to be no strict rule about putting comma after "Please" when it is used as an introduction to a request. Am I right? In what cases using comma ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

How much punctuation is appropriate when ending a sentence with a full-sentence quotation?

When you end a sentence with a quotation that is itself a full sentence, do you use the quotation's punctuation? The containing sentence's? Both? Something else? I think this might be best ...
10
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3answers
369 views

What proposals have been made to give the apostrophe some relief?

The apostrophe has a lot of jobs. It makes things possessive, it indicates the omissions of letters in contractions and numbers in dates, it is used to indicate strange accents in dialog, and it ...