The blue books and grammar packets of middle school may seem a little fuzzy now, but it's never too late to brush up on the writing basics. Get a quick refresher on those colon and comma rules ASAP, before you fire off an email to the boss.
Anything that modifies a sentence without changing its meaning — whether it's a word, phrase or clause — should go in between a pair of commas. For example, the "however" in this sentence adds contrast, not clarification.
Likewise, any info pertinent to the sentence's meaning should not get commas. Helpful hint: The word "that" always signals essential elements, while the word "which" indicates inessential elements.
Comma splices occur when a comma separates two independent clauses. If each part could stand on its own as a complete sentence, you need to break them up. Add a coordinating conjunction like "and" or "but," or use a period or semicolon instead.
Quick recap: Semi-colons usually join related independent clauses, while colons often introduce a list or quotation. A period can split up two separate statements as well.
Between nonessential elements and coordinating conjunctions, the number of necessary commas can add up fast. To limit the number of distracting pauses, stylish writers nix the "ands" and "buts," dividing independent clauses into stand-alone sentences.
Similar to a comma splice, a complete lack of punctuation between two independent clauses is also a big no-no. Insert a semicolon or period for a quick fix.
Most people know to put a colon before a list, but that's not always the case. If the preceding part sounds like an incomplete sentence on its own, skip it.
There's a lot of misinformation floating around about single quotation marks, including using them for short phrases, internal thoughts or dubious information. Luckily, the rule is quite simple. Only use them inside quotations when the person whom you're quoting is quoting something else.
Those horizontal lines aren't interchangeable. Longer should bookend any interrupting information instead of shorter hyphens. Most word processors will automatically create them when you type two hyphens in a row.
On the other hand, use to combine two words or numbers into a single concept. The smaller lines can also connect prefixes like self- or ex-.
This one's easy-peasy. Periods, question marks and exclamation points all go before the closing quotation mark.
It's a heated debate among grammarians, but there's no definitive rule about using the , or the comma that goes before the last item in a list. Your best bet? Side with one school of thought and stick with it.
"Its" is possessive. "It's" replaces "it is." Got it?
Anyone who's used a typewriter likely prefers the two-space rule, as the extra stroke helped distinguish new sentences. However, modern computer fonts automatically correct for spacing and legibility problems, prompting to advocate for a single space.
Personal pronouns like hers, his, its, yours, ours and theirs already indicate the possessive, so they don't need any punctuation indicating the fact. Pro tip: "Whose" implies ownership while "who's" stands for "who is" or "who has."
They've invaded sentences, signs and billboards for far too long. don't add emphasis like some typists assume. If anything, it makes the reader distrust whatever's inside them, like whether that bottle of "Pinot" is really just grape juice.
In this case, the entire phrase "35-year-old" describes the word "woman." On the flip side, that go after a noun (e.g., the woman is 35 years old) don't get hyphens.
Don't worry about any potential ambiguity. inherently indicate that they're modifying whatever's next, whether it's a noun or an adjective.
Besides the periods in between, recommend including a comma after each abbreviation. And if you're debating which one to use, remember that "i.e." equates to "that is," while "e.g." essentially means "for example."