Hello everyone! Sorry for the lateness of this month's lesson, but once you have a look at it you can probably guess why. NoirGrimoir has written a fantastic piece for us on punctuation, something that requires a lot of commitment to read it but will be well worth the read! Thank you to him for providing this, it is truly amazing!
Hey, writers! It's NoirGrimoir here to inform everyone who cares to know about this magical thing called punctuation. Now I've personally seen quite a few fanfics posted lately that were having some problems with this particular aspect of writing, and it's no wonder as punctuation can be kind of complicated. It has quite a lot of rules, and even if you've been writing a long time, it's not always easy to get them right. But why worry about punctuation anyway? What even is punctuation? Well, your friend NG is going to discuss that with you right now.
What Is Punctuation? Why Do I Care?
Punctuation is the use of certain recognized marks in writing in order to give said writing more clarity. Writing is a form of communication and punctuation is one of the tools writers use to communicate more effectively. To a writer of any kind—as many of us who hang around The Writer's Block are—knowledge of punctuation is something that is required to meet standards of professionalism and/or basic coherency, but it's more than that. It is what is going to help you, as a writer, get your thoughts, feelings and ideas across to your readers. It's not a hoop you have to jump or a dumb thing you have to memorize, the proper use of punctuation is what is going to make your work shine!
In this article I will discuss the proper use of various punctuation marks that are most common in fiction writing. Some of it is wrote memorization, while some of it requires a little more thought and consideration to determine which to use, if to use one, and recognize what it is doing to your sentences. It might seem hard at first, but with some practice, it'll soon become instinct. We'll start with the most basic information: what is each mark for?
But NG, What Does it All Mean?
Some marks have a single use, some have more than one. What they all have in common is that they frame words to increase clarity, but in this section I'll get into the nitty-gritty of each mark's specific uses.
Marks that typically go at the end of a sentence:
- A period ends a sentence, signalling the completion of one idea and the beginning of a new one. It doesn't carry any particular inflection, like it's friends the exclamation point and question mark.
- It's also used in common abbreviations, like Mr. and Dr.
- Certain acronyms that are pronounced as one word (like SCUBA and LASER) also require periods, while others don't. You'll have to look them up individually to be sure.
Exclamation point (!)
- Unlike our other marks, this one is unique in that rather than simply signalling the end of a sentence, it is also a sign of emphasis, telling us a statement or interjection is being said with a lot of force.
Question mark (?)
- Oh, what would we do without the question mark? Without it, it would be pretty difficult to tell when someone was asking a question. That's its purpose, after all.
Marks that join or break up words:
- Apostrophes are used for common contractions like can't, don't, won't and such. They are also used to make a word possessive. They are not the same thing as single quotes, though in some fonts the two are near indistinguishable in appearance.
- Also called en-dashes, hyphens are used to join shorter words together, making compound words. Not all compound words require a hyphen, though so its a good idea to look it up if you aren't sure.
- Hyphens are also used when writing out double digit numbers like twenty-two and in fractions like six-eighths.
- Sometimes hyphens also affix prefixes to some words, especially proper nouns (uber-cool, un-squirtle-like.)
Marks that mostly join clauses to create more complex sentences:
- A comma's primary purpose is to separate multiple clauses within a complex or compound sentence (a clause being a group of words with a subject and some kind of action).
- Another common purpose is separating words in lists of three or more things.
- The comma is used for so many more things, it's not even funny. This includes setting off parenthetical elements, separating multiple adjectives describing the same noun, separating quotes and dialogue and the narration, separating introductory phrases from the main clause and basically if it will avoid confusion, you can literally slap one anywhere for any reason. That's how ubiquitous the comma is.
- This funny symbol that looks like a period perched atop a colon is used to join related clauses or sentences. To be honest, it's starting to fall out of use as other punctuation marks can be used in it's place in almost all cases. Still, there are plenty of writers and readers alike who find it charming.
- Another use is more for visual purposes, if more rare. If you have a giant list of phrases which include commas and you want to separate them, then the semi-colon is your go-to mark.
- While not the most commonly seen mark in literature, the colon has its uses. Most people know that a colon is great for signalling the start of a list.
- What some people might not realize, is that it can also signal the start of an explanation.
Marks that mostly break up and modify parts of sentences:
Quotation marks (")
- A writer's best friend! Double quotation marks go around spoken dialogue or quoted material.
- Parentheses set apart parenthetical elements. Interestingly it also serves to de-emphasize the content within in, signally it's less important, or maybe private, perhaps even communicated in a whisper behind a hand. Some writers love 'em (like me, can you tell?), while some think they belong only in formal papers and science journals (that's crazy talk!) Personally, I find them awesome, but it's all up to you whether they fit your story and your style.
- While an em-dash might look like an overgrown hyphen, it isn't! It's a useful mark to set apart parenthetical elements, that is the same stuff you would put inside parentheses. Unlike parentheses however, an em-dash will usually emphasize what is within it.
- It's also great in dialogue to signal breaks in thought and shifts in tone.
- An em-dash can also fulfill the functions of a colon or semi-colon, especially in dialogue, where it would look funny to use something else.
- Ellipses look like three periods, and they usually signal a pause, moment of quiet or a trailing off into silence, especially in dialogue.
- It pretty much never comes up in fiction writing, but ellipses also indicate an omission from a quotation in formal papers and such.
And in case that is not enough for you, here are some great sites to read more about each punctuation and a few that I've omitted:
- Grammarbook.com has both punctuation and grammar rules, with sample sentences and even free interactive tests for both subjects, if you're that hardcore.
- Dictionary.com isn't the most obvious site to look up when you're having punctuation troubles, but it's extremely useful to look up which acronyms need periods or which compound words have hyphens. And of course it's good for just looking up word definitions and finding synonyms.
- Grammar.about.com also has great pages describing both the uses of various punctuation marks, as well as their history.
- Grammar.yourdictionary.com, is another great site that goes even more into depth on some of the more fringe aspects of punctuation, like italics, underlining and single quotation marks, which you notice I hardly even mention because they aren't that common in fiction writing.
- 14 Punctuation Marks You Didn't Even Know Existed is a just a fun article to look over that has the most obscure punctuation marks that are basically never used, for anything, anymore, ever.
Phew! Now that we know what every punctuation mark is called and what it's used for, we're ready for more advanced stuff. But since there is so much to talk about, and I've also listed some pretty great sites which do a perfectly fine job of describing the basics, should you need help in them, I'm going to jump into addressing some punctuation blunders for fanfiction writers, and what to do instead. Some of these are taken from 'top most common punctuation mistakes' lists while others are included from personal experience on this site and in other fanfiction communities, and a few I threw in because they are complicated and I could imagine that some people just avoided said situations if at all possible, just to avoid screwing them up. All of them can be verified by the links provided above and more which I will include later. Now, these aren't in any particular order, but let's jump right in.
Punctuation Blunder #1: Plural and Possessive Problems
Now, this is sort of a grammar issue as well, but I'm going to talk about it because it is so common and because it involves our good friend the apostrophe. The first thing that I'm going to do is lay down some rules.
Rule #1: For possessives (that is to say, with words implying ownership) we add an apostrophe and 's' to the end of the noun that owns the following noun, whatever it may be (unless it's my, mine, his, hers, ours or yours, in which case we simply use that word).
Rule #2: For plurals (words implying multiple objects or individuals) we add simply a 's' to it, no apostrophe. Or if the word already ends in an 's', you add 'es' (kiss becomes kisses). There are even more rules about what words get what to make them plural but probably these are the only two you might accidentally make possessive.
Unfortunately, sometimes writers put apostrophes in plurals and omit them in possessives all the time. For a correct example, see here:
In this sentence, Sabrina has an apostrophe and an 's' added to it, indicating that Sabrina owns whatever follows, which in this case is a kadabra. But what would it mean if we followed plurality rules instead? If Sabrina's was written as Sabrinas? Now that would indicate that somehow there were multiple Sabrinas and then after that would be the word kadabra, which just plain wouldn't make sense. It's likewise in the reverse: Sabrina's kadabra looks ridiculous in that hat.
In this sentence, carrot is followed by an s which indicates it is a plural, so we are talking about more than one carrot here, or carrots as a whole. But if we added an apostrophe 's' instead, then carrot's would become a possessive, so whatever followed it would be owned by this carrot. Now, aside from a carrot owning 'to be incredibly stereotypical' not making any sense at all because it's not a noun, now the word these is also incorrect, because it doesn't agree in number with carrot's, which is still referring to a single carrot, while these is used to refer to more than one of something. I find the fact that my lopunny loves these carrots to be incredibly stereotypical.
As you can see in these examples, mixing up our possessives and plurals can be a big problem! It completely changes the meaning of what you're writing. So the moral of the story is, don't mix up your plurals and possessives.
What you might call a subcategory of this is the Its vs. It's question which pops up all the time and really can be confusing. By our normal rules, It's appears to be possessive, since it has the apostrophe 's', but if you thought as much you would be wrong! It's is actually the contraction of it and is. The possessive form is actually plain old its with no apostrophe. Darn you English! Why must you be so confusing? Oh, because you're an amalgamation of French, Greek and German with Latin via the French, Arabic and Sanskrit via the Greek and any other word we might want from anywhere else thrown in for good measure. Yeah...
- Sometimes we want to talk about something owned or shared by more than one person. In that case, the apostrophe and 's' go only after the last name mentioned, (for example: Brock and Forest's geodude).
- If we are talking about multiple of something which more than one person has, it's written the same, but the object will be plural (Koga and Janine's Venomoths). If we are talking about multiple of the same object which are jointly owned by multiple people, well, that all comes down to context, as its written the same as the last example.
- Yeah I know I said to make somethign plural you add and 's' or or if it ends in an 's' you add 'es' but that isn't always the case. There are a bunch or wierd ones like mouse becomes mice and and goose becomes geese and sheep just stays sheep. Animals specifically tend to be irregular. You really just have to know them.
Punctuation Blunder #2: Questionable Quotations
We already know that quotes are used to indicate dialogue (though some people will use single quotes instead of the proper double quotes, which in English is wrong, and you shouldn't do it!) But where it starts getting tricky is when we throw in all those other punctuations. Which goes first? Which goes last? Some people just guess and get it wrong, but you don't have to. Problems with punctuation around dialogue are rampant but NoirGrimoir is here set the record straight.
Let's begin with the obvious. Dialogue goes inside the two quotations, and everything else outside is called a tag (remember this as tags will be important), and usually describes either who said the dialogue, or the way in which the dialogue was said. A piece of dialogue can have no tag, a short tag before or after, with little more than "she said," or it can be long and elaborate on either side or bisecting in the middle, but it's more common for there to be short tags or no tags. Dialogue with tags can be tricky, but I have some nice easy rules for you, and they work pretty much no matter where the tags are.
Rule #1: A period is always after the last word in a sentence, so if you have some words written after your dialogue, then it's not the end, is it? So don't put a period after dialogue followed by a tag, put a comma.
Rule #2: Assuming it isn't the last word in the sentence, the last word before a tag or dialogue begins or ends, is always followed by a comma. Here are some examples of the rules in action:
Okay, so here the dialogue is,This punctuation article is really stupid, and the tag is, the reader said. The dialogue ends in the middle of the sentence, therefore it has a comma after it, and the sentence as a whole is appropriately finished with a period. Pretty simple. Onto the next example: "
This punctuation article is really stupid,"
the reader said.
You'll notice that this is the exact same example as the previous one except that now the tags and the dialogue have switched places. This being the case, now said, as the last word before the tag switches to dialogue, is the one being followed by a comma, and the period is now after stupid, as this word is now the last word in the sentence. Now that wasn't too awful, was it?
The reader said, "
This punctuation article is really stupid."
But NG, you may ask, what about when the tag is bisecting the sentence? What then? I that case, the same rules still apply. For example in this sentence:
Here, stupid is both the last word of dialogue and the last word of the sentence, so it gets the period. In the area where the the quotation marks separate the dialogue from the bisecting tag, are commas, just the same as they would be if there was no preceding or following dialogue. The only thing that is notably different, is that the and is not capitalized. I repeat, it's not capitalized. This is because outside of proper nouns, only the first word in a sentence is capitalized, and and is not the first word of the sentence, merely a continuation of the sentence of dialogue being spoken, rather than a new idea. The sentence begins with I, which is appropriately capitalized as the first word, and because I is always capitalized anyway. It's just the rule.
"I was reading your punctuation article,"
the reader said, "
and I thought it was really stupid."
- Quotations marks should curve or angle inwards toward the dialogue elements. In some fonts, the quotation marks resemble tick marks, and so appear to be straight up and down, so this isn't an issue. In other fonts however, it will look a little silly when you have two right- or left-facing quotations instead of the proper one on each side. Most word processors should automatically make the quotation mark the correct one.
- If you're American, all punctuations go inside the quotation marks, in all cases, even when the mark isn't attached to the dialogue, but instead to the other part of the sentence. (For example: I hate that you say "pok-ee-man," instead of, "po-kay-mon!") Yeah, it's weird. If you're British or Australian, the punctuation goes on the outside if it isn't part of the dialogue.
- While ! and ? can be placed at the end of a sentence, they are for the most part marks indicating tone, which is why in certain instances you can find them elsewhere. This being so, they can be used instead of a comma to end a piece of dialogue that isn't at the end of a sentence, while a period cannot. ("Commas are super cool!" she said.)
Punctuation Blunder #3: Complications with Compound and Complex Sentences and Comma Splices
Compound sentences are sentences with more than one clause. After hearing this, you are probably thinking, "Ugh! Clauses? What the heck, NG?! That's more grammar stuff! I don't even know what that is!" Yeah, sorry, but I'm going to delve into a little more grammar stuff. It's necessary though, since fixing the problem requires the use of commas and/or semi-colons, and this is a very common mistake among writers.
First let's define a clause. A clause is basically just a phrase that can stand alone as a sentence if you wanted it to. It has at least a subject (what it's talking about) and a predicate (what the subject is doing). So at its shortest, a clause is usually at least two words, though it is usually more and has nice things like description about the subject, and what it's doing and what it is doing stuff to or with. Anything missing either a subject or a predicate is a sentence fragment, and needs to be attached to a proper sentence to give it that missing word right-quick, at which point it becomes a dependent clause, which is a clause that only works once it's been attached to an actual clause. When a sentance has both an independant and a dpendant clause, it is called a complex sentance. Okay? Okay. Now, let's get into the punctuation, and for that I'll give you some more rules.
Rule #1: A compound sentence must be separated by a semi-colon, unless a comma and appropriate linking coordinator is used.
Let's look at some examples:
In this example, we have two independent clauses that are standing on their own: Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore City and She wants to the see the lighthouse. We know they are independent clauses because they both have a subject (Jasmine and She) and a predicate (is visiting and wants to). Now what we have here is perfectly reasonable, but it's true they are kind of short, as well as being related, so it might be pertinent to put the two sentences together, making a compound sentence, which could look like this:
Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore City. She wants to see the lighthouse.
In this example, since the sentences are now one, the first period has been replaced with a semi-colon, and the following word is now lower-case. This is now a compound sentence, and a compound sentence is the only time you can use a semi-colon. Do not use it for anything else! But even so, the truth is that semi-colons are falling out of fashion in the writing world, since this is the only time you use them and there are so many other things you could use instead. You could seriously even use a colon here, since the second sentance could be implied to be an explanation of the first one, like so:
Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore City; she wants to see the lighthouse.
It's not the most appropriate punctuation, but it isn't grmmatically infcorrect. Still, if you like being a bit anachronistic then go ahead and use semi-colons, but there are some additional things you should know about them as well. One of them is that you shouldn't use them in dialogue. Also, don't use colons in dialogue. If you come across this situation, then either leave the two sentences separate, use a comma, or use an em-dash instead, like this:
Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore City: she wants to see the lighthouse.
Instead of using a semicolon, it's now considered much more appropriate to use a regular old comma. When using commas however, one needs to watch out for the dreaded comma splice, which is basically the lazy (and usually incorrect) way to perform alchemy on two sentences and chimera-them into one. This isn't as big of an issue in dialogue and first-person writing since we don't always do this correctly when speaking, and speech is what is being imitated, but when writing narrative and formally, it's necessary to fix these situations. Here is an example of the common but incorrect way to do this:
Volkner said to Flint, "Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore City—she wants to see the lighthouse."
In this example, the two sentances have been stitched together solely with a comma and this is wrong-o! The correct form is to use a comma along with a coordinator to link the sentence together, as so:
[Incorrect Form] Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore City, she wants to see the lighthouse.
In this particular sentance however, a comma doesn't seem like the way to go. So it might be pertinant to write out the punctuation altogether, like this:
[Correct Form] Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore, for she wants to the see the lighthouse.
In this example, now we don't need any punctuation at all because we have the linking subordinator because. Doing this makes the sentence look less complicated and also makes the flow better. It adds additional information as well, because now we know that to see the lighthouse is the reason why she is visiting Sunyshore. Written in other ways, we don't get that additional info. What it does, however, is make the second part of the sentance into a dependant clause, or sentance fragment. The clause because she wants to see the lighthouse can no longer stand on its own without removing the because again, since it no longer makes sense by itself. Rather than a compound sentance, it has become a complex sentance. But this isn't the only way this sentance can be written. It's common and sometimes useful or interesting to flip the two clauses. In said situation there is a rule however.
Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore City because she wants to see the lighthouse.
Rule #2: When you begin the sentance with subordinator, the dependant clause must be followed by a comma.
Here's an example of the flipped version:
In this example, because she wants to see the lighthouse is now at the begining of the sentance where it used ot be on the end. When it's on the end it's perfectly fine without a comma, but when it heads a sentance, we now have to add one. Why you might want to do with is to increase sentance variety or maybe because speaking about the information in the dependant clause is a better segue into the independant clause than the reverse would be, which increases flow.
Because she wants to the see the lighthouse, Jasmine is visiting Sunyshore.
And that's what is up with compound and complex sentances and the common, but incorrect, comma splice.
- Coordinator words include for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so. These are all the linking words for sentances when you need a comma to use them to join two sentances, and the words themselves aren't optional.
- Subordinators words include because, since, after, when and although. These are the ones that don't need a comma uinless they begin a sentance.
- In place of coordinators, one can also use relative pronouns who, whom, that and which, but they can't begin a sentance when performing this function.
- ESLBee.com has a great article about this that actually points out which words are the subject, prepositions and coordinators in its examples, which is something a lot of articles don't do.
- GrammarGirl has a pod cast—yes, a pod-cast—on complex and compound sentances, but also one on comma splices, if you'd rather listen than read about it. You can also just read there too, though. She gives quick rules and tips, like I do.
- GrammarTips has an article about comma splices that talks about when you actually can use them.
Punctuation Blunder #4: Perplexing Parentheticals
Oh parentheticals, my favorite.
What to do with parenthetical content is a big question, and I'm addressing it precisely because it is such a big question and there are so many options. But what are parenthetical elements you ask? Well, parentheticals are that stuff that isn't part of the main sentence or narrative, but is inserted for explanatory purposes or to provide additional information. Basically it's for 'and by the way...' parts of your writing. When you think of parentheticals, you probably think of parentheses, and while you can definitely use parentheses for such things, it's not the only option you have. Em-dashes and commas are also viable options. I'll go over the different marks you can use, when to use them, and why you might chose to do so.
Probably most people set off non-essential information with commas, and it is one of the countless jobs that commas can do (no, seriously, is there anything they can't do?) We pretty much already know how to use commas, and there's only one rule: attach commas to the tail of the previous word, followed by a space and then continue with the next word. The real problem when it comes to understanding when to use commas for parentheticals is the same problem you have to deal with when using any other mark for this, and that is the incredibly confusing world of essential vs. nonessential information.
Essential information is the information we need to understand the sentence, while nonessential information is everything else, aka parenthetical content. Sounds simple enough, and it is in theory, but sometimes what the experts consider essential and nonessential can seem a bit strange, at least to this writer, as well as not properly explained. Luckily for you, I went to the trouble of figuring out some quick and easy rules. We'll use some sentences to help us illustrate the difference.
In this sentence, the subject is Morty and the action or predicate is that he has something, which happens to be three gengars—this is the essential information. The non-essential information is neither of which are named, and it is appropriately set off by a comma. But why is this non-essential information? Yes, on the surface we can perhaps guess that the fact that Morty's gengars aren't named might be non-essential, especially since it's already being set apart, but is there a rule to follow so we'll know for sure? Yes, yes there is.
Morty has three gengars,
neither of which are named.
Rule #1: phrases that do not directly describe or refer to the subject of the sentence, are not essential.
Can information referring to the subject still be unessential? Yeah, but we'll worry about that later. Basically, we can tell that neither of which [of the gengars] are named is nonessential because it addresses the gengars (which is an object), and not the subject, which is Morty. Now lets look at another example.
Huh? But this is just the same sentence flipped around! What is this madness NG!? Shouldn't what is essential and nonessential be the same, since it pretty much has the same information?
Morty's gengars, of which Morty has three, are not named.
Wrong! See, this is why I said this subject is confusing, because what is essential and what isn't is not necessarily based on the information itself, but rather on the structure of the sentence. In this particular sentence, for example, the subject is the gengars, in particular they are Morty's gengars (words that further define what exactly the subject we are talking about is, are definitely essential), the predicate or action is are, and what they are is note named. The nonessential information is of which Morty has three, because as per our rule, this information is about Morty and not about the gengars which happen to belong to Morty. So in the previous example, the subject was Morty, but in this one its the gengars, and that is the reason that different information is now nonessential, even though both sentences contain the same information. Got it? Okay, moving on.
Now lets deal with one that is even trickier. For example:
Okay, now in this sentence the subject is Morty's three gengars. The non-essential information has already been blocked off with commas by yours-truly, but as we can see, it doesn't qualify as non-essential under our first rule. All of which know the move shadow ball is a phrase that still refers to the subject of Morty's three gengars. So how can we tell that it is nonessential? This is where the next rule comes in.
Morty's three gengars, all of which know the move shadow ball, are not named.
Rule #2: If additional words or phrases are required before the action word of a phrase or clause in order for the whole sentence to make any sense, then it's probably nonessential information.
In our example here, the action word of the essential information is are. Morty's three gengar are not named. Extra, non-essential information has been inserted between the action and subject, however. In the nonessential information, the action word is know, but before it has been written the phrase All of which, because without it the sentence wouldn't read properly (Morty's three gengars know shadow ball are not named—yeah, definitely a problem.) There are ways to reorder the information so that both pieces of information are equally essential (for example: Morty's three gengars know the move shadow ball and are not named), but when worded in this manner, the phrase all of which know the move shadow ball is nonessential, and is therefor parenthetical, requiring commas. And that's all I'm going to talk about essential vs. nonessential phrasing.
Here are some links that just describe how to differentiate essential from non-essential information, since it's so difficult:
Commas however, aren't the only punctuation you can use for this, however. Em-dashes work great, too. For example:
When using em-dashes to segregate parentheticals, the placement is exactly the same as with commas. All you need to know is that the em-dash essentially becomes the space between the words, so you don't add any additional spaces before or after it. You write it word-em-dash-word with no spaces in between, as if they are cut marks for you to just yank that information out, if you cared to. You might especially prefer to use em-dashes in long, complex sentences that already have a great deal of commas, or when the nonessential information itself has commas within it. Like this:
Morty's three gengars—all of which know the move shadow ball—are not named.
In this particular example, if we were to use more commas where the em-dashes are placed, that would just flood the already comma-rich sentence with more commas and increase confusion, and as we said earlier, punctuation is all about decreasing confusion! So this is a perfect place to use em-dashes.
Morty's three gengars—which are extremely bad tempered, have bad breath, and probably have rabies—are not named, which is fine, because he never uses them anyway.
Parentheses are great for the same reason, for example:
It has quite a few more rules, though. The first bar of the parentheses acts like a comma, so you don't place a comma after gengars, you just put the parentheses in front of the following word. At the end though, things are different. You put the parentheses after the last word of the parenthetical information and then the comma shows up. Yeah, it's weird. The best way to make sure you get it right, is to imagine the sentence without the parenthetical information, throw that new information in there wrapped in the parentheses and then slap a comma right after it.
Morty's three gengars (which are extremely bad tempered, have bad breath, and probably have rabies), are not named, which is fine, because he never uses them anyway.
- In windows, the code to produce a hyphen is Alt+0151. In a Mac it's Shift+Opt+hyphen key. Two hyphens (--) can work though, if you're lazy. In most word processors, typing two hyphens, a word, and then a space will automatically convert the hyphens to an em-dash.
- Parentheses have a lot more rules dealing with which punctuation goes inside it or outside it and what not. The important thing to know is that you can't treat them like quotation marks when trying to figure out what goes inside or outside. If you do, you'll be wrong more often than not.
- Commas and em-dashes can both be used in dialogue without problems, but if you use parentheses it will look really weird, so don't.
- Here's another Grammar Girl pod cast on dashes, parentheses and comma usage.
- Grammar-Quizzes.com has some info, some flow charts and quiz on this ifnormation and talks about how marks create or take away emphasis.
- Here's a pdf that also has some info on colons, along with what we talked about here.
And that's it! Hopefully this article was useful to you guys and will help you out whenever you have questions regarding punctuation. Happy writting, NG, signing off! I'll leave you with some Top Punctuation Mistake articles to peruse at your leisure.