Colon (:) Colons are used at the beginning of lists of several or more items, or as a substitute for “it is,” “they are,” or similar expressions: These are the major steps in applying for college: finding schools that have the major you want to study, filling out applications, asking for letters of recommendation, taking the SAT or ACT, and ordering official transcripts from your previous schools.
Colon (continued) There is only one thing to do: talk to your daughter’s teacher about it.
Semicolon (;) Semicolons are used to combine sentences into larger ones. Unlike the use of commas to combine very short sentences, semicolons are used for combining relatively longer sentences. Semicolons are often used for combining sentences that are very closely related:
Semicolon (continued) The rising cost of medicines and medical equipment are large factors in making health insurance more expensive; employers cannot afford those costs, and they have to pass them on to the employees.
Apostrophe (‘) The apostrophe has three uses: 1.To form possessives of nouns 2.To show the omission of letters 3.To indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters
Forming Possessives of Nouns the boy’s hat = the hat of the boy three days’ journey = journey of three days Omission of letters Don’t = do not I’m = I am He’ll = he will Shouldn’t = should not ‘60 = 1960
Forming plurals of lowercase letters Apostrophes are used to form plurals of letters that appear in lowercase. To form the plural of a lowercase letter, place ‘s after the letter. There is no need for apostrophes indicating a plural on capitalized letters, numbers, and symbols.
Lowercase letters (continued) Nita’s mother constantly stressed minding one’s p’s and q’s. There are three G4s currently used in the writing classroom. That printed page has too many &s on it. (ampersands) The 1960s were a great time for music. The ‘60s were a great time for music.
Quotation Marks The primary function of quotation marks is to set off and represent exact language (either spoken or written) that has come from somebody else. The quotation mark is also used to designate speech acts in fiction and sometimes poetry. Since you will most often use them when working with outside sources, successful use of quotation marks is a practical defense against accidental plagiarism and excellent practice in academic honesty.
Direct Quotations Direct quotations involve incorporating another person’s exact words into your own writing. Quotation marks always come in pairs. Capitalize the first letter of a direct quote when the quoted material is a complete sentence. Mr. Johnson, who was working in his field that morning, said, “The alien spaceship appeared right before my own two eyes.”
Direct Quotations (continued) Do not use a capital letter when the quoted material is a fragment or only a piece of the original material’s complete sentence. Although Mr. Johnson has seen odd happenings on the farm, he stated that the spaceship “certainly takes the cake” when it comes to unexplainable activity.
Direct quotations (continued) If a direct quotation is interrupted mid- sentence, do not capitalize the second part of the quotation. “I didn’t see an actual alien being,” Mr. Johnson said, “but I sure wish I had.” Note: The period or comma punctuation always comes before the final quotation mark.
Underlines Italics and underlining generally serve similar purposes. However, the context for their use is different. When handwriting a document— or in other situations when italics aren’t an option—use underlining. When you are word processing a document on a computer, use italics. The important thing is to stay consistent in how you use italics and underlining.
Underlining (continued) Italicize (or underline) the titles of magazines, books, newspapers, academic journals, films, television shows, long poems, plays, operas, musical albums, works of art, websites. I read a really interesting article in Newsweek while I was waiting at the doctor’s office. My cousin is reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for two different classes. I have every album from Dave Matthews Band, except for Crash.
Interjections Interjections are words or phrases used to exclaim or protest or command. They sometimes stand by themselves, but they are often contained within larger structures. If the interjection is forceful, they will be followed with an exclamation mark. Interjections are rarely used in formal or academic writing. Wow! I won the lottery! Hurray! Hey!
Dashes (--) Dashes can be used to indicate an interruption, particularly in transcribed speech: The chemistry student began to say, “An organic solvent will only work with--” when her cellphone rang. They can also be used as a substitute for “it is, “they are,” or similar expressions.
Dashes (continued) There was only one person suited to the job--Mr. Lee. They can also be used as substitutes for parentheses: Mr. Lee is suited to the job--he has more experience than everybody else in the department--but he has been having some difficulties at home recently, and would probably not be available. Note: Dashes are double the length of hyphens.
Parentheses () Parentheses are used to say something that is important to the main message you are writing but is not an immediate part of it, something that would interrupt the flow of your writing if you didn’t keep it separate from everything else: Juan finished typing the report and saved multiple copies of it two hours after his supervisor gave the information to him (he types 60 words per minute).
Parentheses (continued) The overnight managers (Cindy on weekdays, Paul on weekends) will prepare bakery goods, coffee, and tea before the morning shift arrives.