Questions tagged [punctuation]

This tag is for questions about punctuation. This encompasses marks such as the period/full stop, comma, dash, and parentheses, used to separate structural units and perform other roles that clarify the meaning. USE THE 'SYMBOLS' tag for currency symbols, accents and so forth.

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colon usage before 'not to'

As I understand it, one of the uses of colon is where what succeeds the colon expands on or explains what precedes the colon. (1) The weight of homework from children's shoulders is then taken off: ...
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Why isn't there a comma in "Unloose him Frodo!"?

I was rather shocked by the extremely sparse use of commas by Tolkien, but in most cases, it still falls "within reason". However, there is one place (so far) in The Two Towers which just ...
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This question ended with ?"? and I think it is a punctuation error, if it is incorrect is there a way to avoid using ?"? [migrated]

This question ended with ?"? and I think it is a punctuation error, if it is incorrect is there a way to avoid using ?"?? As a psychiatrist what will you do when a patient asks a question ...
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Where should I place comma? "and thus" [duplicate]

I am a masters student studying wireless communication in Korea. While writing my paper, I have encountered a problem about how to use English punctuation (the inclusion or not of a comma). Can you ...
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10 votes
3 answers
173 views

When did punctuation marks lose their leading spaces?

This is from a 1951 edition of Kipling’s Kim. I’m fascinated by the punctuation conventions used: apostrophes, exclamation and question marks, all with leading spaces; m-dashes without leading or ...
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Use of Single Quotation Marks Before Period/Comma/Question Mark/Exclamation Point [closed]

this is request for clarification on the rules for single quotation marks (apostrophe symbol on keyboard) in novels. My understanding is that single quotation marks, when used to indicate a quote ...
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Why there is a comma before “and” in a simple sentence of two clauses? [duplicate]

Loretta studied very hard for the test, and she felt confident that she would pass. This is a simple sentence connected with a coordinating conjunction. There should not be a comma because we add a ...
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1 answer
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How to punctuate "No really" correctly

I want to write a sentence such as this. "No really, that is how it actually works." I've searched online and found at least 4 different ways people punctuate "no really" in such a ...
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3 answers
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Capitalisation of a sacred object

I'm working in an Indigenous Australian context in which particular sacred trees and animals are capitalised. I'm aware that the specific name of the tree, for example, needs to be capitalised but ...
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1 answer
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How to write a list of items, where the last item is a compound item? [duplicate]

I have a sentence that contains a list of items, and the last item in the list contains an "and" (e.g. like a pet shop may sell "hampsters" and "cat and dog beds", but ...
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Should I use a comma or a semi-colon in this situation? Why?

The sentence I am considering is: "The parties hereby agree to promptly complete all filings required to be filed under applicable law[, / ;] such filings to be completed in substantially the ...
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does this sentence have too many commas?

I am currently writing my first paper in the field of computer science and having written the following sentence I wondered if there would be any missing commas "Then after a method has been ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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comma usage question: a New Yorker example

Spoon had a scheduled appearance the next day on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and another after that at the Hammerstein Ballroom. I came upon this sentence in The New Yorker, and based on ...
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If a written line of poetry ends ᴡɪᴛʜᴏᴜᴛ a punctuation mark and the next line starts with “and”, is this considered an enjambment?

In the poem “Planetarium” by Adrienne Rich, there are the following lines: of a woman trying to translate pulsations into images for the relief of the body and the reconstruction of the mind. The ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Use of pos­ses­sive apos­tro­phe with the sec­ond word of a com­pound proper noun like “Aus­tralian States”

I have a rel­a­tively sim­ple ques­tion, but I am just a lit­tle con­fused and po­ten­tially mis­in­formed. My un­der­stand­ing is that when plu­ral­is­ing a pos­ses­sive noun, you add an apos­tro­phe ...
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Does a phrase like "close to or within X" require commas to set off the "or within"? [duplicate]

If I were to say something like: close to or within X does it need to be written: close to, or within, X I encounter this type of construction in lot in scientific writing and I'm never sure if it ...
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Using a colon and em dash in informal writing

I was wondering if the placement of the colon and dash in the following sentence is correct: I can't thank you enough for all you have done for me: paying my rent, taking me shopping, giving me rides ...
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Can I end a quote/dialogue with a colon?

If a character is introducing something, say, a PowerPoint presentation, how should I punctuate their speech? Can I use a colon? For example: "We have proof. Just take a look at this:" He ...
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How to use commas around 'well'

In the sentence: "He needs it to, well, do it" as if spoken words, are the commas correct? I'm trying to break up the sentence as you would when speaking, but I'm not sure if I only need the ...
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3 answers
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"The box contains, at most, one marble." Can the box contain no marbles?

Does the sentence "The box contains, at most, one marble." apply if the box contains no marbles?
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Comma to denote additional information that comes toward the end of a sentence and begins with a "-ing" word--is this a real comma rule?

Say I have the following sentence: The RES can be sprayed onto the burn wound, covering an area up to 80 times the size of the biopsy site. I have a few questions. 1.) Most importantly, the comma. ...
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Can you really start new sentences with a lower-case letter like this? [duplicate]

From The Hobbit, first chapter: “Confusticate and bebother these dwarves!” he said aloud. “Why don’t they come and lend a hand?” Lo and behold! there stood Balin and Dwalin at the door of the kitchen,...
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4 votes
1 answer
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A question regarding how to write characters doing actions during sentences

I have a conundrum regarding how to write a sentence break. Specifically, a character is saying something, and, in the middle of their saying that thing, they carry out an action. What combination of ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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What did Tolkien mean by this awkward sentence structure?

In the first chapter of The Hobbit, I just read this: “Thank you!” said Bilbo with a gasp. It was not the correct thing to say, but they have begun to arrive had flustered him badly. He liked ...
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How would dialogue be punctuated and capitalised in the middle of a sentence?

I've seen multiple authors use multiple methods for how they punctuate complex dialogue, sort of mid-sentence quotations. Is there a standardised method or is it exceedingly situational? Below I've ...
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2 answers
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Using commas in a sentence that interjects "not" and continues with "but"

I have been struggling and googling to get the comma(s) right in the following simple sentence. Wherever I put it, it somehow seems wrong: It's a war, fought not with firepower, but with access to ...
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Punctuation with declarative sentence in narration

I have two versions of this sentence: Stop moping and get going! she told herself. Or should it be Stop moping and get going, she told herself! So where do the comma and exclamation point go? This ...
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Punctuating nested quotations

I am editing a novel and I have some questions on how to punctuate nested quotations (or quotations within quotations). Here is the first example: "I kept saying ‘it’s fake’ and ‘he did this’ ...
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What to enclose in square brackets and not?

I use square brackets when I paraphrase, i.e. when I change or add some words to a text I quote. I have noticed an inconsistency in what I enclose in the square brackets and not. Here are two examples....
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1 answer
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Is it acceptable to combine em dashes with parentheses?

Specifically, can I write something like "—(x)—"? For example, I thought x—(which was y)—so z.
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How to separate verbs and adjectives with different prepositions when describing the same noun [duplicate]

Related to this question: When I have a phrase with two verb-plus-preposition combinations, describing the same noun, but requiring different prepositions, how should they be separated? Not at all: &...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Multiple introductory word elements and commas [duplicate]

I am struggling with the punctuation of sentences with multiple introductory elements. Example 1: However, at the current development stage, this feature is not implemented. Example 2: However, in ...
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Should there be a comma after an M-dashed, parenthetic phrase [duplicate]

Should there be a comma — is this comma necessary? —, after an M-dashed, parenthetic phrase? And are those spaces necessary, on both sides of the parenthetic phrase? (ignore the '?', but as a third ...
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3 answers
136 views

"Given a man walking a dog and a cat,..." [duplicate]

I want to write a sentence that starts similar to Given a man walking a dog and a cat, ... This could be interpreted as "given a man that is walking both a dog and a cat". "given (a ...
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1 vote
1 answer
36 views

How do you properly write a question that contains follow-up questions? [closed]

For example if you were to write a question like: "Is this something that you would be interested in, and if so: when are you be available?" How do you structure the sentence with regards to ...
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1 answer
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Commas before not? [closed]

I want a vanilla cake this year, not chocolate. If this is punctuated correctly, what exact comma rule are we applying here? Another: I took my little brother to the store with me, not because I ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Could a comma be used after a question mark? [duplicate]

I'm unsure if this is the appropriate community to ask this question, but it is related to punctuation (:-)). I'm currently doing research for a city council in my state, where I and my colleagues are ...
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Purpose of comma in context [duplicate]

What is the function of the comma here? Is it to avoid ambiguity? He should send his troops across the river, either in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the opposition forces or (in sufficient numbers)...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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What’s the most practical punctuation for this simple sentence? [closed]

I know this seems rudimentary, but it’s tripping me up for some reason. Yuck. Mushrooms are gross. I feel the period creates to much of a pause and strays too far away from the emphasis I want on ...
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1 answer
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Is “I have eaten more cake than I am willing to say.” intelligible?

I am an English native who is on a journey of learning English grammar for the first time. Does “I have eaten more cake than I am willing to say.” make sense? I am not 100% sure if the above sentence ...
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3 answers
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—Beginning Sentences with a Dash

One thing that has always perplexed me while reading philosophy is the odd use of punctuation. — Namely, the use of em dashes to begin a sentence. I find this most prevalent in Hegel and Wittgenstein ...
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1 answer
159 views

Is comma needed if we use "although" in the middle of a sentence?

When we teach students the conjunctions like before, after, or although, we teach them that these conjunctions can be put at the beginning of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence. The question is:...
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1 answer
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10 colons in 3 sentences in the 1928 Episcopal Nicene Creed: Why? How to parse?

Below is the text from The Book of Common Prayer (1928). I have long-wondered why it is written with this punctuation. Perhaps there is no definitive answer to that question. But surely you can parse ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Strange usage of quotations in Wikpedia article [closed]

My girlfriend and I were reading a Wikipedia page and were confused as to the usage of quotations in the following Wikipedia article: King Kong Bundy. Specifically, towards the end, the article ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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How should I punctuate a literal reference to a list item, including its label?

I am trying to punctuate a reference back to an option displayed in a letter-labeled list, as one might see on a quiz in school. I have searched CMOS and StackExchange but haven’t found a precedent. ...
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Is the comma in the sentence "He invented the hard hat, designed to protect against falling objects." correct?

He invented the hard hat designed to protect against falling objects. He invented the hard hat, designed to protect against falling objects. Does the extra comma in sentence 2 make it incorrect?
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Punctuation in dialogue that addressed more than one person

So I got a question regarding comma in speech. Here is an example of the sentence: “Wait a minute.” I hurriedly shouted to stop him and said to her, “Who invited that blockhead to this party?" In ...
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Can the semicolon be used in this sentence? Or a comma?

.....And the answer came just shortly after its silence; she said "you can take the baby... I read that semicolon can be used in a sentence where there are 2 or more different phrases but with ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Is this a good way to format a fairly complicated sentence including a list and a quote/dialogue?

I am trying to improve my grammar (British or UK English) and struggling with the following: It didn’t matter what the job was: paint a fence, load a lorry or dig a hole - the price he would quote ...
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3 answers
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How to slip "let me call it" into a sentence?

I want to slip the phrase "let me call it" into a sentence like in this example from a movie review. I got tired of the, let me call it monster. I wonder where or if to put commas. The ...
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