Other Punctuation and Spelling Andrea Lunsford The Everyday Writer
Parentheses • Use parentheses to enclose material of minor importance. • In general, use commas when the material to be set off is least interruptive, parentheses when it is more interruptive, and dashes when it is the most interruptive. During my research, I found problems with the flat-rate income tax (a single-rate tax with no deductions). My sister, Elaine, lives in Ohio. My best friend (the one I grew up with) lives in Alabama. The friend I miss most—even though I no longer see her—lives in California.
Parentheses with other punctuation • A period may be placed either inside or outside a closing parenthesis, depending on what part it plays. A comma is always placed outside and after parentheses. My brother works in a factory (one that makes cars). I walk to work every day (it’s not far), and then catch a ride home with my husband.
Brackets • Put brackets around material added to explain something. Massing notes that “on average, it [Fox News] attracts more than eight million people daily—more than double the number who watch CNN.”
dashes • To emphasize explanatory material: • To emphasize material at the end of a sentence • To mark a sudden change in tone Several of my friends—the ones who play football—are good students. In the 20th century it has become almost impossible to moralize about epidemics—except those which are transmitted sexually. New York is a catastrophe—but a magnificent catastrophe.
Dashes • To indicate hesitation in speech • To introduce a summary or explanation As the officer approached his car, the driver stammered, “What—what have I done?” In walking, the average adult person employs a motor mechanism that weighs about eight pounds—sixty pounds of muscle and twenty pounds of bone.
colons • To introduce an explanation, an example, or an appositive • To introduce a series, a list, or a quotation • To separate elements The purpose of this course is to improve student writing: the writing students must learn at the college level. College students must spend money on various things: books, lab fees, food, transportation. Dear Mr. Chapman: / 4:59 a.m. / The Joy of Insight: Passions of a Physicist
Slashes • Use slashes to mark line divisions in poetry. • Use a slash to separate alternatives. • Use slashes to separate fractions and Internet addresses In sonnet 29, the persona states, “For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings/That then I scorn to change my state with kings.” Then there was Daryl, the cabdriver/bartender. 138 ½ kwc.edu/panthernet
ellipses • To indicate omissions • To indicate hesitation Packer argues, “The Administration is right to reconsider its strategy…” “I thought you said I could go…to the party,” John said to his angry father.
Spelling rules • i before e except after c or when pronounced ay or in weird exceptions. • Drop the silent e when you add an ending starting with a vowel. • When adding an ending to a word that ends in a consonant plus y, change the y to an i in most cases. • When adding an ending, double the final consonant if the original word is one syllabus. • For most nouns, add -s or –esto make plurals.