Dashes, colons, semi-colons, parentheses

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Writing Time :

Writing Time It’s April 9. Today is “ National Name Yourself Day .” Are you satisfied with your name? Why or why not? What would you like it to be? Trivial Fact of the Day : An apple is 25% air. That’s why they float on water. Have you ever bobbed for apples? Interesting Quote of the Day : “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” --Robert Heinlein (American writer) Vocabulary Word of the Day : nondescript (adjective) – use this word to describe something or someone that has no specific characteristics to distinguish it from something or someone else. Finish this sentence: The lemur was nondescript except for its _____________________.

Punctuation:

Chapter 27 Punctuation

Colons:

Colons The colon is a punctuation mark used to introduce a list or idea. The most common error with colons is using one where it isn't needed.

Rules for Colons:

Rules for Colons Don’t use a colon after a preposition. I want to travel to: New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Montreal. (Incorrect) I want to travel to New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Montreal. (Correct) I want to travel to the following cities: New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Montreal. (Correct)

Rules for Colons:

Rules for Colons Use a colon before subtitles of books, articles, chapters, etc. The title of the book is Bill Gates: Man of the Year. Use a colon with expressions of time. It’s 12:15 P.M. His record for the mile is 4:06:27.

Rules for Colons:

Rules for Colons Use a colon in the greeting part of a formal letter or business letter. To Whom It May Concern: Dear Senator McCain: Use a colon in literary references between volume and page or between chapter and verse. John 3:16 [ the book of John, chapter 3, verse 16] Encyclopedia Brittanica IV:425 [volume 4, page 425]

Rules for Colons:

Rules for Colons Use a colon with ratios. The bill passed with a 3:1 vote. Use colons to indicate dialogue when you’re writing a play or script. Henry: I can’t believe it’s not butter. Janet: It has less fat than sour cream. Henry: But it taste so good.

Rules for Colons:

Rules for Colons Use a colon before a long, formal quotation. Governor Smith stated to the press: “I think that children should study grammar for at least six hours a day. Learning to speak and write correctly is far more important than anything else – including eating. In fact, I believe that eating is a complete waste of valuable time.” Then he said, “April Fools!”

Rules for Colons:

Rules for Colons Use a colon after words such as caution, wanted, or note. Caution: wet floor. Wanted: interior designer specializing in abstract art. Note: Colons have specific uses.

Rules for Colons:

Rules for Colons Capitalize the first word after a colon if it begins a complete sentence – and if you want to. Either way is okay as long as it is a complete sentence. Caution: There are workers present. Caution: there are workers present.

Semi-colons:

Semi-colons The semicolon is a punctuation mark used to separate equal parts of a sentence. Semicolons are also used to avoid confusion in a series of items that contain commas.

Rules for Semicolons:

Rules for Semicolons A semicolon is stronger than a comma but slightly weaker than a period. Use a semicolon between two sentences that are very closely related. My family is Jewish. We celebrate Chanukah but not Christmas. My family is Jewish; we celebrate Chanukah but not Christmas. (Being Jewish and celebrating Chanukah are very closely related, and that relationship is emphasized by putting them in the same sentence.)

Rules for Semicolons:

Rules for Semicolons Only use a semicolon between two complete sentences that are closely related. My family is Jewish; not Christian. (This sentence is incorrect because not Christian is a fragment, not a complete sentence.) My family is Jewish, not Christian.

Rules for Semicolons:

Rules for Semicolons Use a semicolon before however and similar words (these words are called conjunctive adverbs) that show a relationship between two complete sentences. I bet you thought you wouldn’t have to learn another semicolon rule; however, you were wrong. I bet you thought you wouldn’t have to learn another semicolon rule. However, you were wrong.

Rules for Semicolons:

Rules for Semicolons Use semicolons between clauses or phrases that contain a lot of commas. Wesley likes books about baseball, biplanes, and bagels, Brian likes books about antique cars, blimps, and rare fish, and Tori likes books about racehorses, dolls, and military jets. This sentence is very confusing and sounds choppy.

Rules for Semicolons:

Rules for Semicolons Wesley likes books about baseball, biplanes, and bagels; Brian likes books about antique cars, blimps, and rare fish; and Tori likes books about racehorses, dolls, and military jets. The semicolons in this sentence helps the reader to understand what ideas go together.

Rules for Semicolons:

Rules for Semicolons Use semicolons in lists that contain commas as part of the listed material. I want to visit Atlanta, Georgia; San Diego, California; Washington, D.C.; and Denver, Colorado.

Parentheses:

Parentheses Parentheses , like colons, are a punctuation mark used to set off an element in a sentence. But unlike colons, parentheses tend to deemphasize the set-off item. Parentheses are always used in pairs—opening and closing. As in the following example, parentheses can set off information that is interesting or helpful but not necessary for understanding the sentence.

Rules for Parentheses:

Rules for Parentheses Use parentheses to set off parenthetical expressions from the main part of the sentence. A parenthetical expression is a “by-the-way” information (inserted in the middle of a sentence, like this) that isn’t absolutely necessary. Parenthetical expressions can include: explanations, translations, clarifications, feelings, jokes or puns, opinions, or lists.

Rules for Parentheses:

Rules for Parentheses Examples of parenthetical expressions: The academic year (this year that’s August 20-June 13) includes 180 school days. I paid 40 German marks (about $25) for dinner. The town where I live (Phoenix) is in the central part of Arizona. School is canceled (yippee!) today. We’re having chocolate mousse (no, not chocolate moose) for dessert. We’re all out (and I hope we’ll remain out) of livermush . Some of my cousins (Bill, Kristen, David, Robin, Melissa, and Kacey ) were at my party.

Rules for Parentheses:

Rules for Parentheses Don’t over use parentheses by including everything but the kitchen sink! My next-door neighbor (her name is Tori, just like my cousin) bought a new car (I think it’s a Mazda, but I’m not sure; I like Mazdas ) last week (on Friday, the day right after my birthday, in fact) and took me for a ride to Erica’s house (she was getting ready for her trip to California) right after she got home (she had had a long day at work) with it (the car, I mean-not the long day at work!). THIS IS A HORRIBLE SENTENCE!

Rules for Parentheses:

Rules for Parentheses Punctuating parentheses can be difficult. Pay attention to punctuation. Rule of thumb, punctuate the sentence just like you would without parentheses and punctuate the parentheses without the sentence – then insert the parentheses into the sentence.

Rules for Parentheses:

Rules for Parentheses Examples of punctuating parentheses: When I’m hungry (like now), all I can think about is food. I took my girlfriend out to dinner (if you can call splitting a hot dog dinner). I’m angry (really angry!) about you going to the movie without me. What a scary movie ( Saw )! I’m sad (that doesn’t surprise you, does it?) about you going to the movie without me. Did you enjoy the movie (did you stay awake through it?)?

Dashes:

Dashes The dash is a punctuation mark used to set ideas off within a sentence. Dashes emphasize ideas or draw attention to a point. Dashes also can set off appositives. An appositive is a word or phrase that identifies, or could replace, another element in a sentence. Dash: Nancy pinpointed her biggest source of stress—her husband.

Rules for Dashes:

Rules for Dashes Use a dash to link two parts of a sentence. Always hook your seatbelt – it’s the law. I gave you my last $20, so don’t waste it. (using a comma works, but is not as strong as a dash.) I gave you my last $20 – so don’t waste it.

Rules for Dashes:

Rules for Dashes Use dashes to emphasize by-the-way, parenthetical expressions. My grandmother bought me a puppy – an adorable little bulldog! – for my birthday. I’ve lived in Portland – the one in Oregon, not Maine – all my life

Rules for Dashes:

Rules for Dashes Use a dash for clarity and emphasis. Finally Robin fell exhausted into bed on top of the cat. (Confusing) Finally Robin fell exhausted into bed – on top of his cat!

Rules for Dashes:

Rules for Dashes Use a dash to set off a long appositive (a description of who or what the subject is) or an appositive with lots of commas. I love Beaver Creek, a small ski area in Colorado with long, challenging runs. This sentence is correct, but weak. I love Beaver Creek – a small ski area in Colorado with long, challenging runs.

Rules for Dashes:

Rules for Dashes Examples: My best friend, Mike, is here. (Correct and effective) My best friends, Mike, Kevin, Brian, and Paul, are here. (Confusing and cluttered) My best friends – Mike, Kevin, Brian, and Paul – are here. (Easier to understand and more effective)

Rules for Dashes:

Rules for Dashes Use a dash in dialogue to show hesitation or a break in the flow of the sentence. Parker said, “I definitely studied enough for the test – or I think I studied enough – I probably studied nearly enough-well, I hope I studied enough.”

Rules for Dashes:

Rules for Dashes Use a dash to sum up a list or idea. Red, white, and blue – those are the American colors. Victory – that’s the name of the game.

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