Use commas

Between the words, phrases, and clauses in a series.

o    Example: steak, potatoes, and corn

Between the names of cities and states.

o    Example: Los Angeles, California

Between the day and year in dates

o    Example: July 4, 2008

To set off nouns in direct address

o    Example: Lisa, it is time to leave

To indicate direct quotations in a sentence

o    Example: “The science projects are due Friday,” said Ben.

Before and, but, or, or nor in a compound sentence.

o    Example: Santo wants to go to the shore for the family vacation, but his sister prefers the mountains.

To set off an appositive.

o    Example: Jamie, the new student, comes from Minnesota

After an introductory word, phrase, or clause in a sentence

o    Example: Frightened by the howling winds of the storm, the little girl couldn’t sleep.

To separate adjectives or adverbs of equal impornance.

o    Example: The plump, smiling fellow hardly looked like a powerful wizard.

To set off parenthetical and nonessential expressions.

o    Example: If any of our products are defective, of course, they will be replaced free of charge.

After the greeting of a friendly letter and after the closing of all letters.

o    Examples: Dear Bill,  Yours Truly,

In numbers of more than three digits.

o    Example: 24,687

Use a colon

To set off words in a list following an independent clause.

o    Example: Andre packed the following for the ski trip: ski pants, a parka, sweaters,  heavy socks, a ski hat, and warm gloves.

Between hours and minutes.

o    Example: 3:15 P.M.

After the greeting of a business letter.

o    Example: Dear Ms. Jones:

To indicate an important idea.

o    Example: Directions: Complete the worksheet.

Use a semicolon

Between independent clauses not joined by conjunctions.

o    Example: Jon felt confident about the game; Eduardo did not.

Between main clauses if there are commas in one or both of the clauses.

o    Example: She finished the first part of the project easily; however, she had trouble with the second.

Use an apostrophe

In contractions to show what letters are missing.

o    Examples: cannot = can’t, has not = hasn’t

To show possessive nouns

o    Examples: Jen’s books, the twin sister’s bikes, Charles’s cat

Use quotation marks

To indicate the direct words of a speaker.

o    Example: “I have no homework tonight,” Rachel said.

To indicate the titles of short stories, articles, songs, poems, or the titles of chapters in books.

o    Example: “The Road Not Taken” (poem)

Use underlining (italics)

For titles of books, movies, and works of art.

o    Example: The Outsiders (book)

For the names of newspapers, magazines, ships, trains, planes, and spacecraft.

o    Example:The New York Times (newspaper)

For words that require special emphasis.

o    Example: There is a difference between counsel and council.

Use parentheses

To enclose information that is added to a sentence but is not of critical importance.

o    Example: The chart (see page 3) has been updated

Use hyphens

To connect two or more words to form compound words.

o    Example: up-to-date

To divide words into syllables.

o    Example: Fol-low

When writing certain numbers.

o    Example: forty-two, fifty-five, eighty-one

Use dashes

To signal breaks in thought.

o    Example: Make a right after the gas station – it has a big flag in front – then turn onto Cedar Drive.

Use a period:

To end a declarative sentence (statement).

o    Example:  It is hot outside.

After an imperative sentence (command).

o    Example: Open the window.

At the end of an abbreviation.

o    Examples: Dr., Mrs., Mon., Feb.

With initials.

o    Example: S. E. Hinton

Use a question mark after an interrogative sentence (question).

Example: When does the show begin?

Use an exclamation point after an exclamatory sentence (strong emotion).

Example: Oh no!