More Punctuation Rules
1. To set off adverbial clauses at the beginning of a sentence
When the door opened, I entered.
Although I love teaching, I don’t like correcting papers at night.
Because the sun was shining, people were happy.
I entered when the door opened.
I don’t like correcting papers although I love teaching.
People were happy because the sun was shining.
2. To set off introductory words and phrases
She comes from Vietnam. Therefore, she speaks Vietnamese.
As a result of the accident, she had to miss a lot of school.
Nowadays, I don’t move as quickly as I did as a young man.
He ate the vegetables. However, he didn’t want to.
Having smoked most of his life, he found it difficult to quit.
3. To set off inserters (Inserters are words inserted in the middle or end of a sentence to help clarify meaning.)
I want to go, but I can’t go, however.
He doesn’t want to do it, yet he, nonetheless, will certainly do it.
My sister smokes a lot. I, on the other hand, have never smoked.
I enjoy doing a lot of things. I love traveling, for example.
4. Direct quotations
“I love you,” he said.
She screamed, “Get out of my way.”
Speaking softly, she answered the phone and said, “How may I help you”?
“I want to quit smoking,” he said, “but I can’t.”
5. Coordinating conjunctions followed by a subject
I will take you to the park, and your mother will bring you home.
You haven’t done your homework, so you can’t go to the movie with Tommy.
It is raining out, yet the boys want to go to the beach.
6. Nonrestrictive clauses and phrases (Nonrestrictive clauses and phrases are used when referring to someone or something that is understood by both the writer and the reader. In other words, there is only one possibility of whom or what the writer is writing.)
My father, whom I loved dearly, died when I was a teenager.
I spoke to my sons, Alex and André, about going camping next month.
John F. Kennedy, who was the president when I was in college, was assassinated in 1963.
The Seattle Mariners, my favorite baseball team, plays in Safeco Field.
7. Tag questions
You speak English, don’t you?
He has a car, doesn’t he?
He can come, can’t he?
8. To set off participle phrases or reduced relative clauses
Agreeing to pay the fine, I wrote a check for $38.00.
The old man, stooping to pick up the book, winced because his back hurt him.
The dishes, washed and stacked next to the sink, still need to be put away.
9. Following conjunctive adverbs (transition words and phrases) in compound sentences
I have to teach every day; in addition, I have to correct papers every night.
My sons have drivers’ licenses; therefore, they can drive cars legally.
My mother was outgoing and loud; in contrast, my father was reserved and quiet.
B. Semicolons [;]
1. To connect compound sentences which are not connected by conjunctions
She comes from Vietnam; she speaks Vietnamese.
It was a beautiful night; the moon was full and the stars were shining brightly.
She cooks all kinds of food; for instance, she can cook Chinese food,
Indonesian food, Arabian food, Italian food, and Brazilian food.
2. To separate items in a series in a sentence when the sentence already contains a lot of commas for other punctuation reasons
My most enjoyable free-time activities include working in my garden, which always makes me happy; reading all kinds of books, which helps me pass the time as well as keep me interested and knowledgeable; and watch movies, which I do at theaters, on DVDs, and on TV.
C. Colons [:]
1. To introduce a list
You will need to buy the following items: books, pencils, notebooks, pens, and erasers.
People can get all kinds of materials from a library: books, videos, DVDs, CD, cassette tapes, magazines, professional journals, etc.
The following people came to the party: Lisa, Linda, Veleda, Roz, Willa, and Liza.
2. Formal salutation in a business or legal letter
Dear Mr. Bourret:
Dear Ms. Baldwin:
Dear Dr. Williams:
Dear Professor Johnson:
To Whom It May Concern:
3 To introduce an appositive or an amplification of what you wrote before the colon
The death of a child is a parent’s worst nightmare: there is nothing worse.
The man was a miserable excuse for a son: he often robbed from his parents and was known to hit his mother.
She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw: when I looked at her, she always made me forget what I was thinking.