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Punctuation Rules to Follow

Here are more rules of punctuation to use for your next writing assignment.

Using Ellipses

An ellipsis (pl. ellipses) is that series of three dots you sometimes see when reading. Use ellipses to represent omission from a quotation. For example, if the complete sentence is: "We went to the store, after hours of debate, to buy some milk," you can quote the sentence as, " 'We went to the buy some milk.' " Ellipses also express hesitation, suspense, or trailing off. "Oh no! You don't think that she..."

How to Use Colons

A colon is like saying "that is to say." Use it to introduce a series of items, as in "I brought a lot of food: sandwiches, chips, hamburgers, and hot dogs." Do not use a colon after a verb or adverb. You would not write, "I want: sandwiches, chips, hamburgers, and hot dogs." Colons can also introduce long quotations, usually of two sentences or more. A colon is not a semicolon, and the two are not interchangeable, except when separating two independent clauses when the second will explain, rephrase, or expand on the first. For example, "I got what I deserved: I really earned that raise."

Using Apostrophes Correctly

Apostrophes have many uses. They show possession, as in "John's car." Do not use apostrophes, however, with personal pronouns: his, hers, ours, etc. Remember that names or things ending in "s" should not add another "s" after the apostrophe. Apostrophes also replace missing letters in contractions, "don't," "can't," or "won't." Do not use apostrophes for plurals- "Apostrophe's are for possession, not plural's." When there are two or more owners of the same object, only place the apostrophe after the second owner: John and Mary's house.

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