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Philippine Content Development

2011

NotesonPunctuation
Punctuationmarksarethetrafficsignalsofalanguage.Whencorrectlyused,theyguidethereaderthrough
thetextandmakescomprehensioneasier.However,whenincorrectlyplaced,theycanalsochangethe
meaningofasentence.Considerthefollowingexample:
Originaltext:

Awomanwithouthermanisnothing.

Punctuatedtext1:
Punctuatedtext2:

Awoman,withoutherman,isnothing.
Awoman:withouther,manisnothing.

Belowisadiscussionontheusesofdifferentpunctuationmarkssuchasthecomma,apostrophe,semicolon,
colon,hyphen,quotation,andellipses.

Useoftheperiod
Thereareonlytwousesoftheperiod(alsoknownasfullstopinBritishEnglish):3

Tomarktheendofasentenceexpressingastatement(ifyouareunsurewhetherthewordsconstitute
asentence,lookforaverbwhichisanessentialcomponentofasentence)
Tosignifyanacronym[N.A.T.O.forNorthAtlanticTreatyOrganization(althoughincreasinglyitisac
ceptableandevenpreferablenottousefullstopsinsuchcases)]

Note:Acommonmistakeistouseacommawhereafullstopshouldbeused,
ThefollowingaretheusesofsomecommonpunctuationmarksasdiscussedbyProf.RosellaTorrecampo
duringtheBasicOnineWritingTrainingforSUCWriters:1
UsesofaComma:
1)Inalist
Oxfordcomma~thecommabeforeandororinaseriesofitems.
Example: Ham,eggs,andchips
2)Beforedialogue
Example: Marksaid,Goodmorning!
3)Markoutadditionalinformation
Example: Thegirl,whoiswearingapinkshirt,ismysister.
4)Beforeaconjunction(e.g.and but or
for while yet)introducinganindependentclause
Example: Theboyswantedtostayupuntilmidnight,buttheygrewtiredandfellasleep.

5)Encloseparentheticexpressions(additionalinformation)betweencommas
Example: Thebestwaytoseeacountry,unlessyourepressedfortime,istotravelonfoot.
Note:Whenindoubtoverwheretouseacomma,tryreadingthesentenceoutloudand,generallyspeaking,
commasshouldbeusedwhereyoupauseforclarificationorbreath.
UsesoftheApostrophe

1. Indicatesapossessiveinasingularnoun
Example: Thecafsmenu

Butwhenthepossessorisaregularplural,theapostrophefollowsthes.
Example: Thecafsmenus

Philippine Content Development


2011

Note:Withmodernnamesendingins(includingbiblicalnamesandanyforeignnamewithanunpronounced
finals),thesisrequiredaftertheapostrophe.
Keatsspoems
St.JamessSquare
Charlesscoffeemug
Withnamesfromtheancientworld,itisnot.
Achillesheel
Archimedesscrew
Ifthenameendsinanizsound,anexceptionismade:
Bridgesscore
Mosestablets
Jesusdisciples

2. Indicatestimeorquantity.
TwoWeeksNotice
TheCafwillopenintwomonthstime.

3. Indicatestheomissionoffiguresindates
Example: Batch08issoexcitedtograduate.

4. Indicatestheomissionofletters

Examples: Thetrainingstartsat8oclockeveryday.
ThegovtissettobattletheinsurgentsinBasilan.
Its(itis)yourturn.
Itsbeenseveralyears(Ithasbeenseveralyears).

5. FeaturedinIrishnamessuchasONealandOCasey.
O=Of(?)
O=anglicisationofuameaninggrandson

6. Indicatesthepluralofwords
Thedosanddontsofspeaking
Shedidntwelcomehisbutsandands.
Note:Theapostrophedoesnthavetoappearinthepluralsofabbreviations(e.g.DVDs)orpluraldates(e.g.
1980s)
Remember:

Possessivepronounsdonotrequireanapostrophe
PossessivePronouns:
Mine
Ours
Yours
Yours
His
Theirs
Hers
Theirs
Its
Theirs

UsesofSemicolon

1) Separatetworelatedsentenceswherethereisnoconjunction(suchasandorbut),andwhereusing
onlyacommawouldbeungrammatical.
Example: Sheisagoodwriter;shehaspublishedseveralbooks.

2) Organizessyntaxthoughtwheremanycommasareused
Example: Weboughtdairyproductslikemilk,butter,andcheese;vegetablessuchascarrots,potatoes,
andspinach;andsomefruitslikebananasandmangoes.

Philippine Content Development


2011

3) Linkingwordssuchashowever,nevertheless,also,consequently,andhencerequireasemicolon.
Example: Hespentalotforthecampaign;however,themajorityofthepublicsawthroughhispretense
anddidnotvoteforhim.
UsesofColon:

1) Separatesstatementsplacedbaldlyindramaticopposition
a. Lawrencecouldnotspeak:hewasdrunk.
b. Manproposes:Goddisposes.

Itisalsousedwhenthesecondstatementreaffirms,explainsorillustratesthefirst

2) Startslists
a. Pleasepurchasetheff:furniture,glassware,ingredients,andlinen.

3) Setsoffbookandfilmsubtitlesfromthemaintitles
a. GandhiII:TheMahatmaStrikesBack

4) Separatesdramaticcharactersformingadialogue:
o

Philip:HowdoyougettoCebu?
Anne:Youcangotherebyplane,byship,orbybus.

UsesoftheHyphen3
1) Useahyphentojointwoormorewordsservingasasingleadjectivebeforeanoun:
Examples:
aonewaystreet
chocolatecoveredpeanuts
wellknownauthor
However,whencompoundmodifierscomeafteranoun,theyarenothyphenated:
Examples:
Thepeanutswerechocolatecovered.
Theauthorwaswellknown.
2) Useahyphenwithcompoundnumbers:
Examples:
fortysix
sixtythree
Ourmuchlovedteacherwassixtythreeyearsold.
3) Useahyphentoavoidconfusionoranawkwardcombinationofletters:
Examples:
resignapetition(vs.resignfromajob)
semiindependent(butsemiconscious)
shelllike(butchildlike)
4) Useahyphenwiththeprefixesex(meaningformer),self,all;withthesuffixelect;betweenaprefixand
acapitalizedword;andwithfiguresorletters:
Examples:
exhusband
antiAmerican
selfassured
Tshirt
midSeptember
preCivilWar
allinclusive
mid1980s
mayorelect
5) Useahyphentodividewordsattheendofalineifnecessary,andmakethebreakonlybetweensyllables:
Examples:
preference
selling
individualist

Philippine Content Development


2011

6) Forlinebreaks,dividealreadyhyphenatedwordsonlyatthehyphen:
Examples:
mass
self
produced
conscious
7) Forlinebreaksinwordsendingining,ifasinglefinalconsonantintherootwordisdoubledbeforethesuf
fix,hyphenatebetweentheconsonants;otherwise,hyphenateatthesuffixitself:
Examples:
planning
running
driving
calling
8) Neverputthefirstorlastletterofawordattheendorbeginningofaline,anddon'tputtwolettersuffixes
atthebeginningofanewline:
Examples: lovely(Donotseparatetoleavelybeginninganewline.)
evaluate(Separateonlyoneithersideoftheu;donotleavetheinitialeattheendofaline.)

UsesoftheDash
When you type two hyphens together (--), most word processors automatically combine them
into a single dash. Thedash(oremdash)shouldbeusedforaspecificreason,andnotbeoverusedin
academicwriting.
1) Useadashtotaketheplaceofthemoreformalcolon,particularlywhenyouwanttoemphasizeapoint:
Example: Studentswereaskedtobringtheirownsuppliespaper,pencils,andcalculator.
2) Useapairofdashesinplaceofparentheseswhenyouwanttoplacemoreemphasisonthecontent:
Example: TheparticipantstwofromgroupAandtwofromgroupBtestednegatively.
3) Useadashatthebeginningandendofaseriesseparatedbycommas:
Example: ThestudentsJim,Marla,andSaraweretoldtheycouldleave.
4) Useadashtomeannamely,inotherwords,orthatisbeforeanexplanation:
Example: Themantheonewithhishandintheairlooksdesperate.
5) Useadashtoindicateanabruptbreakinthought:
Example: Theprofessorwasunwillingtochangetheduedateevenforacandybar!
6) Ifthesentenceresumesafterthebreak,useaseconddash:
Examples: Theprofessorwasunwillingevenforacandybar!tochangetheduedate.
AftertheprofessormadeherstatementIllextendtheduedate,butjustthisonetime.we
applauded.
7) Useadashtointerruptthemainideainasentencetoinsertanother,related,idea:
Example: Thestudenttheonedressedinblack,sittinginthecornerletoutacry.
Theendashisusedbetweenequalweightedwordsinacompoundadjective.Itismadebytypingthefirstad
jective,followedbyaspace,ahyphen,anotherspace,andthesecondadjective:
Examples: TheYankeeRedSoxrivalry
TheNewYorkBeijingflight
Mostoftentheendashisusedtoexpressarange:
Examples:pages1023
100300participants
JanuaryMay2009.

Philippine Content Development


2011

Itcanalsostandforthewordsand,to,orversusbetweentwowordsofequalweight:
Example:

TheIsraeliPalestinianPeaceConference.

UsesofQuotations
Theprimaryfunctionofquotationmarksistosetoffandrepresentexactlanguage(eitherspokenorwritten)
thathascomefromsomebodyelse.Thequotationmarkisalsousedtodesignatespeechactsinfictionand
sometimespoetry.Sinceyouwillmostoftenusethemwhenworkingwithoutsidesources,successfuluseof
quotationmarksisapracticaldefenseagainstaccidentalplagiarismandanexcellentpracticeinacademic
honesty.2
Adirectquotationistheinclusionofanotherperson'sexactwordsintoyourownwriting.Thefollowingare
somegeneralrulesontheuseofquotationsasgiveninthePurdueOnlineWritingLab(OWL)website:
1.Quotationmarksalwayscomeinpairs.Donotopenaquotationandfailtocloseitattheendofthequoted
material.
Example: Marthareplied,Iwilltrytobetherebeforenoon.
2.Capitalizethefirstletterofadirectquotewhenthequotedmaterialisacompletesentence.
Example: Mr.Johnson,whowasworkinginhisfieldthatmorning,said,"Thealienspaceshipappeared
rightbeforemyowntwoeyes."
3.Donotuseacapitalletterwhenthequotedmaterialisafragmentoronlyapieceoftheoriginalmaterial's

completesentence.
Example: AlthoughMr.Johnsonhasseenoddhappeningsonthefarm,hestatedthatthespaceship
"certainlytakesthecake"whenitcomestounexplainableactivity.
4.Ifadirectquotationisinterruptedmidsentence,donotcapitalizethesecondpartofthequotation.
Example: "Ididn'tseeanactualalienbeing,"Mr.Johnsonsaid,"butIsurewishIhad."
5.Inalltheexamplesabove,notehowtheperiodorcommapunctuationalwayscomesbeforethefinal quota
tionmark.ItisimportanttorealizealsothatwhenyouareusingMLAorsomeotherformof
documenta
tion,thispunctuationrulemaychange.
Whenquotingtextwithaspellingorgrammarerror,youshouldtranscribetheerrorexactlyinyourowntext.
However,alsoinsertthetermsicinitalicsdirectlyafterthemistake,andencloseitinbrackets.Sicisfromthe
Latin,andtranslatesto"thus,""so,"or"justasthat."Thewordtellsthereaderthatyourquoteisanexactre
productionofwhatyoufound,andtheerrorisnotyourown.
Example: Mr.Johnsonsaysoftheexperience,"it'smademereconsidertheexistenceofextraterestials[sic]."
6.Quotationsaremosteffectiveifyouusethemsparinglyandkeepthemrelativelyshort.Toomanyquotations
inaresearchpaperwillgetyouaccusedofnotproducingoriginalthoughtormaterial.

Sources:
1

Prof.RosellaTorrecampo
ResourcePerson,BasicOnlineWritingTraining
iSchoolsProject
VisayasStateUniversity,Babay,Leyte
2

SeanM.Conrey,KarlStolleyHyphenUse
PurdueOWL:Hyphens,PurdueOnlineWriting
Lab
Onlinearticle,lastmodified17April2010
Accessedon25March2011
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/576/01/

Philippine Content Development


2011

Darlington,RogerHowtoUsePunctuation
Onlinearticle,lastmodified15February2007
Accessedon20March2011
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/576/01/
4

ColumbiaUniversityTheDash
WritingCenterHandouts
Onlinearticle
Accessedon25March2011
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/ssw/write/handouts/dash.htm
l