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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How do you quote a passage that has used '[sic]' mistakenly?

The usage of '[sic]' is well defined for quoting a passage that you believe has an error in it: nearest to the mistake you place '[sic]' within the quotes. For example, suppose I write a letter from I ...
220
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15answers
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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 ...
193
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1answer
253k 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?
113
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15answers
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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.
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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?
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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
69
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8answers
11k views

Is it acceptable to nest parentheses?

Is it acceptable to nest parentheses (for example, if I (meaning myself) write like this)?
66
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13answers
13k views

Why do sentences that start with “guess” end with a question mark?

To me, sentences that start with "Guess" are in the imperative mood, thus, should end with a period: Guess who's coming to town. Guess what we had for dinner last night. Why do a lot of ...
58
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4answers
112k views

Why does the multi-paragraph quotation rule exist?

The answer to this question clearly explains the standard rule that when you have multiple quoted paragraphs, each new paragraph starts with an opening quotation mark, but only the final quoted ...
57
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8answers
149k views

Should I always use a comma after “e.g.” or “i.e.”?

It seems that "e.g." is always followed by a comma but "i.e." is not. Why is that?
53
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14answers
4k views

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 ...
44
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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 ...
43
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7answers
38k views

Appropriate dash to use when attributing a quotation?

If I’m citing a poem or quotation, what kind of dash precedes the author’s name? For example: This Business of Printing; which I am heartily tired of, and repent I e’er attempted....  —John ...
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5answers
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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 ...
42
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5answers
53k 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 ...
40
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6answers
10k views

“For all it's worth” or “for all its worth”?

Should I put an apostrophe in "for all its worth"? The meaning comes to about the same thing either way, as far as I can make out, and it seems like "it's" is more popular. But is there an accepted ...
40
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1answer
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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"
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10answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
35
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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 ...
35
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6answers
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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 ...
29
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7answers
183k 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 ...
29
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6answers
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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. ...
27
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9answers
104k views

Using a comma before “but”

I was once told by an English professor that a comma should never be used before but in a sentence. For years, I have followed her advice but sometimes I just feel like it just needs to be there. On ...
27
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5answers
297k 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 ...
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.
27
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2answers
83k 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 ...
26
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3answers
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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 ...
26
votes
5answers
98k views

“Do's” and “don'ts” or “do's” and “don't's”?

I am making a list to my children telling them what are some of the things they should do and shouldn't. Under one side is "do", and the other is "don't". Would I write "do's" and "don't's"? Cause ...
26
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6answers
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Punctuating question tags: A question mark is always required, isn't it. (Well, isn't it?)

Consider the sentence: You didn't leave the dog in the car, did you? In spoken English, this statement may be spoken with a rising intonation or a falling one. If the former, it suggests that ...
26
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1answer
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How to deal with abbreviations like 'etc.' at the end of parentheses which are closing a sentence?

In Hungarian, when there's a dot both inside and outside parentheses at the end of a sentence, we write it as follows: Sok állatom van (kutya, macska stb.). (Meaning: I've got many animals [dogs,...
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5answers
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Why is the unit of measure placed before the value for currencies? Are there other measures where the unit precedes value?

$1,000 is pronounced as "one thousand dollars". Reading from left to right, it seems like it would make more sense to write the value as: 1,000$. This way the pronunciation of the value follows the ...
25
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2answers
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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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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 ...
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 ...
24
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2answers
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What is the name of the glyph that separates sections of a chapter?

What is the mark of punctuation called that sometimes separates sections of a chapter with a glyph placed in the middle between the margins? It's hard to explain, but here's a picture. Does this have ...
23
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4answers
2k views

Should “ya” have an apostrophe? “Doin”? Etc

"How ya doin?" v. "How ya' doin'?" and so on. There's... a debate.
23
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4answers
4k views

I thought blah blah blah, and I was right. Is the comma correct?

This sentence is bugging me: I knew going in that the orange flavor component of the cake was going to be lacking, and I was right. The comma doesn't seem to be enough, but the semicolon just ...
23
votes
3answers
257k 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?
23
votes
4answers
73k views

AM/PM vs a.m./p.m. vs am/pm

I used to think PM/AM was correct, but at some point, I switched to using p.m./a.m. for reasons I can't recall. I know that in practical, casual writing, people tend to use whatever form is most ...
22
votes
7answers
36k 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 ...
22
votes
3answers
132k views

Should “So”, “Therefore”, “Hence”, and “Thus” be followed by commas?

Often, I have come across sentences that begin with "So". Should such an usage of "So" be followed by a comma? Are the following examples correct. He is very good at computers. So, I think he can ...
21
votes
4answers
33k views

Is it appropriate to put a comma before “which”?

On Server Fault, we were discussing this question in chat. There are non-native speakers in the chat and somehow we got on the topic of grammar and proper use of commas. The sentence of interest: ...
21
votes
3answers
60k views

Do footnoting superscripts go inside or outside punctuation?

When using superscripts to indicate a footnote, do these fall inside or outside adjacent punctuation? If there is an answer, is that answer applicable worldwide, or just to specific regions or ...
20
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is “like” as in Facebook likes often put between quotes?

I often see people use the noun with quotes: We have received a lot of "likes." rather than: We have received a lot of likes. Why is this done?
20
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8answers
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Is it proper to omit periods after honorifics (Mr, Mrs, Dr)?

I've been reading the Economist lately and they apparently don't punctuate honorifics like "Mr.", "Mrs.", e.g. The popular rejection of Mr Mubarak offers the Middle East’s best chance for reform ...
20
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5answers
138k views

When do we need to put a comma after “so”?

I noticed that most of the times when the conjunction "so" is used at the beginning of a sentence, it is followed by a comma: So, this gets published but the fact that it is inaccurate gets ...
20
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
73k 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 ...
19
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3answers
9k views

Why is there a slash within “n/a”

not available is not not/available, and not applicable is not not/applicable. Why is it n/a?