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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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?
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
40
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4answers
4k 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 ...
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.
10
votes
2answers
11k views

To hyphenate or not?

As a non-native speaker of English and an engineer by training, I always get confused about hyphenation and almost always end up referring to Google every time I need to make that decision. Does ...
197
votes
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?
44
votes
2answers
10k views

When should end punctuation go inside quotes?

I have been/am being taught that end punctuation should always go inside quotes. For example, you are supposed to write: Marvin thought it was "awful." The problem is I do not see how does this ...
19
votes
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?
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 ...
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 ...
35
votes
13answers
29k views

Can a word be contracted twice (e.g. “I'ven't”)?

I've seen a contraction of two words. I can't see why it wouldn't be possible to contract twice. Is it possible and how should it be punctuated? Update: Ok, to sum up the answers so far This ...
12
votes
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?
27
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7answers
3k views

How does one correctly use a semicolon?

How does one correctly use a semicolon? It is probably one of the more difficult punctuation marks to master in my opinion.
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 ...
30
votes
7answers
186k views

Where does the period go when using parentheses?

Where should the period go when using parentheses? For example: In sentence one, I use this example (which has a parenthesis at the end.) Should the period be inside, or outside of the ...
25
votes
5answers
36k views

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 ...
21
votes
5answers
8k views

Is it correct to use “punctuation outside of the quotations”, or “inside?” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How should I punctuate around quotes? When should end punctuation go inside quotes? Or is it region specific? I was always taught that when ending a quotation, that ...
44
votes
5answers
54k views

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 ...
20
votes
3answers
12k 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 ...
42
votes
5answers
56k views

Should I use a semicolon or a dash to connect two closely related sentences?

When you want to connect two closely related sentences, you can use a semicolon or a dash. (You can also use a dash for other kinds of non-sentential relations). How would you choose whether to use a ...
36
votes
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 ...
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 ...
26
votes
3answers
5k views

Really nice, Mat

I see a lot of people saying things such as Nice work, Nick Or Thanks, Mat Is the comma really needed? I'm not 100% sure because my spelling and grammar is not great, but I think it reads ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Is a comma necessary in “What’s funny, is …”?

In the sentence What’s funny is Cat’s dry humour. Wouldn’t it be better to put a comma after “funny”: What’s funny, is Cat’s dry humour. This question entails a (at the time of writing) ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Is the question mark misused in affirmative sentences?

For example, I found the following sentence written by a native English speaker (UK) so I'm going to assume that he knows how to put it the right way, although I wouldn't use this form. I now have ...
10
votes
7answers
20k views

Using a question mark mid-sentence

May I use a question mark in the middle of a sentence? Examples: Would you like the drapes to be white? or perhaps something off-white? Would you like the logo to be centered? at the bottom? ...
2
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2answers
8k views

When is it appropriate to use a hyphen? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: To hyphenate or not? What is the proper way to spell "side dish"? Is it: "side dish" or "side-dish"? Also, Is it "ham-fried" or "ham fried"? Basically, when do you use ...
16
votes
3answers
190k views

Use of a semicolon before and comma after “however”

Several years ago, a previous boss told me to use a semicolon and comma with the word "however". I've always questioned this and would like to know if the following random sentences are using the ...
7
votes
1answer
4k views

Punctuation of direct speech, edge cases

I recently learned that I have developed a consistent, but entirely wrong approach to punctuating direct speech in fiction. I am in the unenviable position of trying to relearn. Previously I wrote ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
24
votes
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 ...
29
votes
6answers
47k views

Is it ever acceptable for a period to come after a quote at the end of a sentence? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it correct to use “punctuation outside of the quotations”, or “inside?” I've heard that you should always place ending punctuation inside of quotes, no matter what. ...
10
votes
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’...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

When is it appropriate to use “scare quotes”?

For example, is putting scare quotes around "scare quotes" appropriate? Wikipedia says the term means usage of quote marks "to indicate that [a word or phrase] does not signify its literal or ...
14
votes
4answers
9k views

What is the best way to mention a word: italics, quotes, or single-quotes (apostrophes)?

If I want to mention the word "furlong", for example, should I use furlong, "furlong", or 'furlong'? Also, am I correct in putting the punctuation outside the quotes?
13
votes
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 ...
24
votes
3answers
264k views

Should I use a comma before “and” or “or”?

Is using a comma then an "and" or an "or" after it proper punctuation? Example: I fell over, and hurt my knee. Should I go, or not?
70
votes
8answers
12k views

Is it acceptable to nest parentheses?

Is it acceptable to nest parentheses (for example, if I (meaning myself) write like this)?
13
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3answers
6k views

Quoting a question at the end of a sentence which is itself a question

If my sentence is a question and ends with a quote of a question, where exactly do I put a question mark? Did she ask, "Is it raining"? Did she ask, "Is it raining?"? Did she ask, "Is it ...
9
votes
4answers
61k views

Where does the question mark go — inside or outside the parentheses?

I know that when brackets enclose part of a sentence, the full stop goes outside. I tripped over this morning. I was distracted by a plane (which turned out to be Superman). If it's a full ...
9
votes
6answers
6k views

Singular or plural verb form where subject includes a “parenthetical” element

My question arises from this one, where OP asks whether he should use the singular or plural verb form after "the title, as well as the tone," As luck would have it, when I searched Google Books for ...
11
votes
1answer
893 views

Can a hyphen be used without anything on the right side?

From this page: [...] in early parts of this century when it was the most user- and hardware-friendly Linux operating system available [...] Is the user- fragment valid (outside this technical/...
8
votes
1answer
10k views

How to use hyphens appropriately when listing multiple hyphenated terms?

If multiple hyphenated terms share the same latter half, and I wish to list them without repeating that latter half, how should the hyphens be placed? For example: I will be investigating control ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Use of hyphens when writing repeated compound words that have common parts

In my native language, Norwegian, one uses hyphens when stating two or more copulated compound words that has common parts (words). In a thesis I'm working on, should I write test specimens, test ...
28
votes
5answers
301k views

Should there always be a comma after “therefore”,“However” etc.?

Should you always type a comma after "therefore","however" etc. in the beginning of a sentence? Also, when these (and similar) words are used in the middle of a sentence, should there be a comma or ...
15
votes
4answers
29k views

What is the proper way of using triple dots and spaces before/after them?

...␣part of a sentence␣... ...part of a sentence␣... ...␣part of a sentence... Notice the spaces before/after the dots. Which usage is the correct one ?
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?
18
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5answers
3k views

How to handle a name that includes an exclamation point (or other punctuation)?

Certain brands, such as Yahoo!, insist that the exclamation is part of their name. In writing about such a brand or company, is the inclusion of the vanity punctuation right, wrong, or optional? I ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
7k views

Where to put the periods when using a parenthetical sentence?

I have two complete sentences; the second is in parentheses, essentially a comment on the first. Where do I place the periods? I would use this: They played opera. (I covered my ears.) Is this ...