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The misuse of punctuation marks in eats shoots leaves a book by lynne truss

Eats, shoots and leaves… January 15, 2014 Like bad grammar, misused punctuation in writing is distracting, can confuse meanings and make the author look either careless or like he or she slept through 6th grade. Here are the most often misused forms of punctuation: The possessive for it is its.

Quotation marks The first issue with quotation marks is where the heck do they go? Place quotation marks outside periods and commas but inside all other punctuation unless the punctuation is part of the quotation. Notice that the quotation marks are inside the semi colon and question mark.

Up the colon

The other use of quotation marks is to note alleged or a non-literal use of a word. I always make the mistake of adding a period at the end of a sentence using quotation marks after the quotation marks.

That is a major no-no! Never put the period outside the quotation marks, always put it inside. The other question I have is whether to use single or double quotation marks. The rule is that double quotation marks should be used when quoting written or spoken words. Single quotation marks can be used inside a quotation. Parentheses These are always used in pairs.

Eats, shoots and leaves…

I know you knew that but I felt obligated to say it. They are used to add extra information in sentences or an aside if that makes it easier to visualize. There are no commas before the first parenthesis.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves Quotes

If the sentence ends with a parenthesis put the period outside. Hyphens and Dashes Hyphens are used in between two or more words being used as adjectives to modify a noun as in Nancy ate super-sweet chocolate marshmallows. Hyphens have no spaces on either side. Dashes set off and emphasize a part of a sentence. For example Nancy thought Ginny used too many dashes — turns out she was wrong! They can be used in place of colons and parentheses but not for lists of multiple items. Dashes can be used either singularly or in pairs.

The difference is that the colon joins two clauses that are connected when the second expands on the first as in Nancy ate three desserts: The semicolon separates two independent clauses that can each stand alone as complete sentences.

In other words, a period could be substituted for the semicolon, but the connection between the two parts would be lost. Commas People go haywire with commas. Commas are very useful to separate information into readable bits. A single comma can separate a long introduction from the rest of the sentence. A pair of commas can separate a nonessential section of a sentence in place of parentheses. A way to test for this is to remove the section from the sentence. If it does not change the essential meaning of the sentence it should be set off with commas.

For example, My business partner, Ginny, has traveled around the world. Many people want to add commas where none are needed.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.

  1. Place quotation marks outside periods and commas but inside all other punctuation unless the punctuation is part of the quotation.
  2. Commas are very useful to separate information into readable bits. There may be something in that argument — I was subjected to an old-fashioned education that included laborious lessons in figures of speech as well as grammar, with several years of Latin thrown in for good measure.
  3. But I can't help feeling that our punctuation system, which has served the written word with grace and ingenuity for centuries, must not be allowed to disappear without a fight.
  4. Place quotation marks outside periods and commas but inside all other punctuation unless the punctuation is part of the quotation. A shaken barman asks why.
  5. If it does not change the essential meaning of the sentence it should be set off with commas. I'm sure it says more about them - poor, unenlightened souls - than it does about me; for some reason, in particular, very few people understand what a wonderful punctuation mark the semi-colon is, and that it can, and very often should, be used to replace the period.

Eats, shoots and leaves.