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Punctuation to Help Your Composition

Here are a few more punctuation rules to help you write correctly.

How to Use Semicolons

A semicolon is a period atop a comma for a reason- they are just short of a full stop. Use a semicolon to connect two complete sentences you want to join together. "I ate at the Thai restaurant; the food was delicious." You should also place a semicolon before words such as "however," "therefore," and "for example" when these are followed by complete sentences. "I brought 100 hundred sandwiches; however, they were not enough to feed the class." Semicolons can also replace commas to separate list items or independent clauses when these contain commas. "I went to Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Cleveland, Ohio; and Miami, Florida."

Using Ellipses

An ellipsis (pl. ellipses) is that series of three dots you sometimes see when reading. Use ellipses to represent omission from a quotation. For example, if the complete sentence is: "We went to the store, after hours of debate, to buy some milk," you can quote the sentence as, " 'We went to the buy some milk.' " Ellipses also express hesitation, suspense, or trailing off. "Oh no! You don't think that she..."

Parentheses & Brackets

Never use parentheses and brackets interchangeably. Parentheses enclose information that clarifies or is an aside. You can use parentheses instead of a comma or semicolon if you deem the information to be less important. "She finally told me (after an hour of deliberation) that my pasta dinner was delicious." If the phrase in parentheses ends the sentence, place the period outside the parentheses. If a comma is necessary, place it after the parentheses as well. Brackets are only for use within quotations. They mark material that the author has added to the quotation, a [sic] when the quotation contains a mistake, or changes to the quotation to keep with proper grammar. " '[T]he better angels of our nature,' is how Lincoln ended his first inaugural address." Because the phrase appeared mid-sentence in Lincoln's original speech, the "the" was not originally capitalized.

For Tutoring in Powder Springs

For more help with grammar, contact The Tutoring Center in Powder Springs. Visit our webpage for more information. Our one-to-one tutoring programs are tailored to you based on a free diagnostic assessment of your needs. Call 770-222-7133 to schedule yours today.


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