Punctuation

Understand the logic and cognitive science behind punctuation

Punctuation refers to the marks used in writing to clarify meaning. While grammar refers to the rules of a language, punctuation falls into the category of mechanics because an understanding of the usage rules for each mark is critical to composing correct sentences.


Punctuation marks include the following:

Additional articles on Punctuation:

  1. Apostrophes

    Use an apostrophe to denote ownership to a singular or plural noun and indefinite pronoun by adding an -'s if...

  2. Avoid Comma Splices

    What is a comma splice? A comma splice is a common sentence problem that occurs when two complete sentences (independent...

  3. Avoid Dropped Quotations

    Why is it important to avoid dropped quotations? A dropped quotation—a quote that appears in a paper without introduction—can disrupt...

  4. Colons

    Use the colon when the first sentence anticipates the second sentence or phrase, thereby creating an emphatic tone. The colon...

  5. Commas

    Understand conventions for using commas and appreciate the likely effects of particular sentence lengths and patterns on reading comprehension. Commas...

  6. Commas

    How should commas be used? Use commas to separate a series of three or more items, actions, words, or phrases....

  7. Commas

    Understand conventions for using commas and appreciate the likely effects of particular sentence lengths and patterns on reading comprehension. Commas...

  8. Dashes and Parentheses

    Create emphasis and define terms by interrupting the flow of a sentence by using a dash; know when the dash...

  9. Hyphens

    How should hyphens be used? To join some compound words into one word when the word reflects a single concept...

  10. Primer-Style Sentences

    A primer-style sentence is a short and simple sentence that usually includes a single subject and verb. While short and...

  11. Punctuation

    Learn how to use proper punctuation. Below is a summary of how to punctuate different sentence patterns and how to...

  12. Quotation Marks

    What are quotation marks? One of the primary jobs of quotation marks is to set off exact spoken or written...

  13. Review Colon Usage

    What is a colon? A colon is a punctuation mark used to separate significant parts of a sentence, particularly when...

  14. Review Ellipsis Usage

    What is an ellipsis? An ellipsis is a punctuation mark that consists of three dots with a space before, after,...

  15. Semicolons

    Use a semicolon to join two sentences or to punctuate a series or list of appositives that already includes commas....

  16. Semicolons

    What is a semicolon? A semicolon is a punctuation mark used to separate closely-related independent clauses. Stronger than a comma,...

  17. Use Commas After Conjunctive Adverbs and Transitional Phrases at the Beginnings of Sentences

    Although our modern style calls for using as few commas as possible, you should generally place a comma after conjunctive...

  18. Use Commas After Introductory Subordinate Clauses

    To avoid confusion, use a comma after an introductory subordinate clause or phrase: Because the costs of conducting research continue...

  19. Use Commas Around Nonrestrictive Parenthetical Elements

    You should limit the number of times that you interrupt the flow of a sentence by placing modifying words between...

  20. Use Commas Before Nonrestrictive Adverbial Phrases or Clauses at the Ends of Sentences

    At the end of your sentence, you need to be especially careful about where you place your commas. In particular,...

  21. Use Commas to Join Two or More Independent Clauses

    In most instances, place a comma between two sentences that are joined with a coordinating conjunction--and, but, or, for, nor,...

  22. Use Commas to Separate Adjacent Parallel Elements

    As demonstrated by the following examples, a series is composed of three or more parallel elements, and the series can...

  23. Using Parentheses

    Parentheses (also called brackets in British English) are a punctuation mark used to contain text that is not part of the main...