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PUNCTUATION POWER

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    1. PUNCTUATION POWER San Jos State University Writing Center

    2. FIRST, LETS REVIEW A BIT: Commas are used for Separating items in a series: Nina, Mary, and Sue are my sisters. Joining two independent clauses into a single sentence with a coordinating conjunction: Nicole has three children to care for, and now shes also taking care of Grandma.

    3. COMMAS ARE ALSO USED FOR Setting off nonessential clauses and phrases from the rest of the sentence: That cowboy in the white hat, whose name is Tex, is last years rodeo champion. Setting off dependent clauses and phrases at the beginnings of sentences: After we won the game, the whole team was completely exhausted.

    4. AND COMMAS ARE USED FOR Separating a series of adjectives that equally modify a noun: The gigantic, snarling, hungry bear came slowly toward Ted, who was a terrified, trembling nervous wreck. SO NOW THAT WEVE REVIEWED ALL THESE COMMA RULES

    5. WHERE DO THE COMMAS GO IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES? Esther Sue Angelina Marie Bobbie Jeannine and Helen are all going to the movies. Esther, Sue, Angelina, Marie, Bobbie, Jeannine, and Helen are all going to the movies. Sanni Jamal and Carlos would also like to go but theyre too shy to ask the girls. Sanni, Jamal, and Carlos would also like to go, but theyre too shy to ask the girls.

    6. AND HOW ABOUT THESE? Snow ice and hail do not happen in San Jos very often although we see them occasionally. Snow, ice, and hail do not happen in San Jos very often, although we see them occasionally. Because of freeway congestion I was late for class. Because of freeway congestion, I was late for class.

    7. AND THESE? I was late for class because of freeway congestion. No comma is needed when the dependent clause comes after the independent clause. Everyone was surprised when I got to class late. No comma is needed because the dependent clause is at the end.

    8. REMEMBER SEMICOLONS? Semicolons have two major uses. They can join two closely related independent clauses into a single sentence without a coordinating conjunction: Myras dogs are very annoying; they bark and howl almost all the time.

    9. IN ADDITION, SEMICOLONS Help readers to sort out long, confusing lists: Jason Wilhelm, entomologist, from Ithaca, New York, Trudi Francis, ornithologist, from Chicago, Illinois, Basil Thisby, ichthyologist, from Miami, Florida, Cy Dent, lepidopterist, from Monterey, California, Mimi Mynton, herpetologist, from Atlanta, Georgia, and Hal Blunt, taxidermist, from Houston, Texas will all attend the conference.

    10. ISNT THIS A LOT BETTER? Jason Wilhelm, entomologist, from Ithaca, New York; Trudi Francis, ornithologist, from Chicago, Illinois; Basil Thisby, ichthyologist, from Miami, Florida; Cy Dent, lepidopterist, from Monterey, California; Mimi Mynton, herpetologist, from Atlanta, Georgia; and Hal Blunt, taxidermist, from Houston, Texas will all attend the conference.

    11. SEMICOLONS ARE ALSO USEFUL TO CORRECT A COMMA SPLICE My favorite teacher in high school was Ms. Chung, she always understood when I was having problems. My favorite teacher in high school was Ms. Chung; she always understood when I was having problems.

    12. AND LETS NOT FORGET ABOUT COLONS Colons can be used to set up something which completes a sentence. The following items of clothing must be brought with you to camp: a pair of heavy boots, three long-sleeved shirts, and two pairs of jeans. Smoking is bad for many reasons, but you only need to remember one: It kills.

    13. COLONS ALSO SET OFF DIRECT QUOTATIONS Remember the words of President John F. Kennedy: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

    14. AND NOW SOME NEW PUNCTUATION MARKS APOSTROPHES Are used with an s to indicate that a noun is possessive: Janices purse disappeared while we were at the zoo. If the noun ends in s, it is acceptable to add only the apostrophe: The Simpsons house is not very attractive.

    15. HOWEVER Some instructors prefer that you always add s, so check to be sure.

    16. APOSTROPHES Are also used to mark contractions: Shawna wont do it because she cant. Dont mention the dance to Mona because shes not going, OK?

    17. BE SURE TO PLACE THE APOSTROPHE CORRECTLY This is not correct: I couldnt go because I hadnt done my homework. Apostrophes are used in place of the letter(s) being left out of the contraction.

    18. APOSTROPHES Are also used with s to make a number or a letter plural: Scott was skating perfect figure 8s. Sondra received four As on her report card.

    19. IN ADDITION, APOSTROPHES Are often used to pluralize decades: The 1920s were prosperous, but the 1930s brought in the Great Depression. BUT when the decade is abbreviated, the apostrophe shifts its position: The 20s were prosperous, but the 30s brought in the Great Depression.

    20. AND REMEMBER NOT to place an APOSTROPHE in the possessive pronoun its because its not correct: Its is a contraction meaning It is or It has: Its been a long, hard day. (It has been a long, hard day.) Its not my fault that we ran out of gas. (It is not my fault that we ran out of gas.)

    21. NOW LETS DO SOME PRACTICE Where are you going? Jeanne asked Gladys. Were almost late for class now. Gracielas kitten jumped out of its basket, ran across the floor, and scampered up the stairs. If you plan to succeed in this class, you must remember two things: do your reading assignments and get your homework in on time.

    22. PRACTICE The decade of the 90s wasnt as much fun as the 80s because I was getting older, I had some health problems, and my job became more difficult. Its not too hard to understand Robert Frosts poem The Road Not Taken; its about making choices in life. You cant say you wont go because you dont have anything to wear.

    23. PRACTICE The new students came from Beijing, China; Santiago, Chile; Bangkok, Thailand; Madrid, Spain; and Los Angeles, California. That tall, handsome, dark-haired guy whos leaning against the fence is Cicis brother, and Id really like to meet him. I like the black shoes better than the red ones, which are more expensive.

    24. ANY QUESTIONS?

    25. PUNCTUATION POWER HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY DR. JIM LOBDELL AND IS A PRODUCTION OF THE SAN JOS STATE UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTER