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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46
votes
4answers
10k views

How should I punctuate around quotes where the punctuation required by the quote interferes with the punctuation of the sentence?

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 ...
38
votes
3answers
94k views

Which singular names ending in “s” form possessives with only a bare apostrophe?

Many questions already ask about this topic (What is the correct possessive for nouns ending in "‑s"? , When did it become correct to add an “s” to a singular possessive already ending in “‑...
144
votes
16answers
402k views

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

Should I put a comma before the last item in a list? I would like crackers, cheese and some soda. I would like crackers, cheese, and some soda.
287
votes
1answer
372k 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 (—)?
56
votes
4answers
18k 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 ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it correct to hyphenate with compound premodifiers? If so, where is the hyphen placed?

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?
14
votes
2answers
28k 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 ...
38
votes
2answers
326k 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 ...
68
votes
7answers
576k 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 parentheses?...
15
votes
4answers
159k 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
votes
1answer
35k 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 ...
27
votes
3answers
28k 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 now ...
39
votes
13answers
63k 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've been possible to have been contracted twice. Is it possible and how should it be punctuated? Update: Ok, to sum up the answers ...
12
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
29
votes
7answers
76k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
7k 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 ...
31
votes
5answers
67k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
3k 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) heated ...
13
votes
7answers
42k 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? ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Oxford Comma Conventions

According to the Wikipedia page for the Oxford Comma, "Use of the comma is consistent with conventional practice" and "Use of the comma is inconsistent with conventional practice." Did the Oxford ...
108
votes
9answers
245k 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?
47
votes
10answers
144k 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 ...
32
votes
8answers
7k 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.
22
votes
5answers
13k 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 ...
9
votes
8answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
4k views

Comma before “and”

I read this sentence on an educational website: Now times have changed and you are ready for situations involving forces in two dimensions. Shouldn't there be a comma before and, since the subject ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Is it ok to combine two independent clauses into just one sentence? [closed]

Is this sentence acceptable? You’re welcome, have a nice day ahead.
54
votes
6answers
500k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
4k 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?
31
votes
4answers
11k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
23k 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?
1
vote
2answers
13k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
18k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
2k 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/...
84
votes
3answers
892k 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?
84
votes
6answers
120k 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 ...
54
votes
6answers
117k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
292k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

Should the first word after a colon be capitalized?

Should the first word after a colon be capitalized? Which of the following is correct? For example: This. For example: this.
16
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
112k 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 ...
267
votes
16answers
49k 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 ...
68
votes
1answer
96k 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"
85
votes
7answers
26k views

Is it acceptable to nest parentheses?

Is it acceptable to nest parentheses (for example, if I (meaning myself) write like this)?
42
votes
9answers
178k 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 ...
22
votes
5answers
133k views

Placement of comma before quotation mark

What is the rule for comma placement before a quotation mark? When should the comma go before and when should it go after the quotation mark?
43
votes
5answers
445k 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 ...
34
votes
6answers
85k 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. Are ...
15
votes
1answer
34k 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’...

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