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Help with Composition: Punctuation

Be sure to follow these rules of punctuation on your next writing assignment.

Question Marks

Only use question marks at the end of direct questions, replacing the period. Do not write: "I'm asking if you will go to the dance with me?" You generally do not use question marks for rhetorical questions: "Why don't you rest a bit," or "What wouldn't I do for a Klondike bar!" When a quotation is involved, include the question mark within the quotation marks if the original quotation was a question. For example: I asked her, "Are you still my friend?"

Using Dashes

Dashes introduce an added emphasis, an interruption, or a change of thought. They are subtly different than commas, semicolons, and other punctuations used for the same purpose. Use your discretion for which is best in the circumstance. Notice how the dash changes the tone of this sentence: "John, my only friend, came to help me move" vs. "John��– my only friend – came to help me move."

How to Use Colons

A colon is like saying "that is to say." Use it to introduce a series of items, as in "I brought a lot of food: sandwiches, chips, hamburgers, and hot dogs." Do not use a colon after a verb or adverb. You would not write, "I want: sandwiches, chips, hamburgers, and hot dogs." Colons can also introduce long quotations, usually of two sentences or more. A colon is not a semicolon, and the two are not interchangeable, except when separating two independent clauses when the second will explain, rephrase, or expand on the first. For example, "I got what I deserved: I really earned that raise."

For Tutoring in Powder Springs, Georgia

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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