Hire us and get your A+

Learning the rules of punctuation is almost as important as learning traffic rules. Just like traffic signs and lights, which show you how to behave and keep safe on roads, punctuation symbols show you how to deal with separate sentences and entire passages in academic papers. Let’s see what we can do to make punctuation rules easier.

Rules of Punctuation – Symbols

The basic punctuation rules deal with punctuation symbols – comma, semicolon, colon and dash. So let’s learn what each of them is used for.

COMMA

Rule 1: Separating items in a series. This is the main rule of punctuation and it is the easiest one. All identical items in a series are separated by commas. A comma is sometimes also placed before the conjunction and. The latter one is called an ‘Oxford comma’ – you won’t find it in newspaper articles, but you should use it in academic papers.

Right: I like apples, oranges, plums, and strawberries.
Wrong: I like apples oranges plums, and strawberries.

Rule 2: Before small coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. An acronym FANBOYS can be used for learning these conjunctions.

Right: Jack wanted to go to the seaside, but he had no ticket.

Wrong: Jack wanted to go to the seaside but he had no ticket.

Rule 3: Separating introductory phrases and clauses:

Right: Running home, he recollected that he had left his hat in the bar.

Wrong: Running home he recollected that he had left his hat in the bar.

Rule 4: Before direct speech:

Right: She asked in a loud voice, “Is anybody home?”
Wrong: She asked in a loud voice “Is anybody home?”

Rule 5: Separating a direct address from the rest of a sentence.
Right: Be careful, John!
Wrong: Be careful John!

SEMICOLON
Rule 6: Separating independent clauses:

Right: We went home; John decided not to lose his last chance.
Wrong: We went home, John decided not to lose his last chance. (This last one is called a run-on sentence. Either a conjunction or a semicolon should be used to correct this mistake.)

Rule 7: To separate clauses when at least one of them has internal punctuation
Right: On Monday, when everyone was tired after the weekend, students kept silent; however, on Wednesday, the situation changed.
Wrong: On Monday, when everyone was tired after the weekend, students kept silent, however, on Wednesday, the situation changed. (Using too many commas can be rather confusing.)

COLON
Rule 8: Before a list of items. These lists usually contain or imply the words “the following”:
Right: We wanted to have a three course dinner: lamb chops, pureed potatoes and a salmon mousse.
Wrong: We wanted to have a three course dinner, lamb chops, pureed potatoes and a salmon mousse.

DASH
Rule 9: Instead of a comma or colon, for adding emphasis. A dash shows that the tone changes.
Right: Many employees – especially those who were hired recently – wanted to move to a new office.
Wrong: Many employees – especially those who were hired recently – wanted to move to a new office.

QUESTION MARK
Rule 10: At the end of interrogative sentences. This last punctuation rule from the list will test your awareness of what really is a question and what it is not. A period should be used at the end of a request:
Right: Are you going to New York?
Wrong: Could you close the window, please? (This last one should be: Could you close the window, please. It is not actually a question.)

As you can see, learning these basic grammar rules is easy.

Feel free to use these brilliant examples to refresh any rule of punctuation form this list of top 10 rules, whenever you may need it.

Your paper is a few clicks away! Get a FREE price quote!  Get a FREE price quote

Leave a comment for this blog post