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English: Common Punctuation Errors.

Discussion in 'Hall of the Elders' started by Kaede, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. Kaede Trophy Hunter

    Nov 7, 2015
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    Here are 10 of the most common punctuation errors people make and how you can avoid making them.
    By: Kristin Mateski

    1. Extraneous Apostrophes
    The Problem: People putting apostrophes where they don’t belong.

    Example: It’s all your’s.

    How to Avoid: Simply add an “s” to anything you want to pluralize. Only add an apostrophe if you want to use the possessive form, such as: my wife’s.

    2. Unnecessary Quotation Marks
    The Problem: The use of quotation marks when nothing’s being quoted.

    Example: We offer the ‘best price in town’!

    How to Avoid: If you’re not quoting something, don’t use single or double quotation marks. If you want to emphasize a specific part of your message, use a bold or italicized font, but keep it short.

    3. Missing Commas
    The Problem: Without commas, sentences become run-on blocks of text without any breaks.

    Example: I went to the store but they were closed so I went home.

    How to Avoid: Speak the sentence aloud and take note of any breaks in your speech. Insert commas when you pause or when you change gears within a sentence.

    4. Too Many Commas
    The Problem: Just the opposite of missing commas, it’s possible to include an excessive amount of commas in one sentence.

    Example: I went to the store, but they were closed, so I got in my car, then I turned my radio on, then I backed out, and then I went home.

    How to Avoid: While there’s no set rule for how many commas constitutes too many, your eyes are the best judge of overuse. If you think you have too many in a sentence, try replacing a comma with a period and see how the sentences flow. Odds are good that you can make two or three sentences from your one comma-filled discourse.

    5. Excess Exclamation
    The Problem: Too many exclamation points in a body of work overwhelms the reader and devalues each individual exclamation point.

    Example: Our products are the best! They really work! Get yours today!

    How to Avoid: Be tasteful with your exclamation points. Save them only for the big points and for the ends of paragraphs, leaving the reader on a high note.

    6. It’s vs. Its vs. Its’
    The Problem: It’s all too easy to misuse one of the three forms of it’s.

    Examples: I don’t know who its going to hurt more, you or me. Look into it’s eyes.

    How to Avoid: “It’s” is short for “it is” or “it has.” “Its” is when you’re talking about something or someone. “Its’” is always incorrect and should never be used. If you can read your sentence out loud and correctly substitute “it is,” then “it’s” is correct. If not, then “its” is correct.

    7. The Oxford Comma
    The Problem: The lack of a consistent method for using commas in lists is infuriating for grammar pros and casual readers alike.

    Examples: My favorite foods are pizza, spaghetti and steak. I like to roller skate, exercise, and watch TV.

    How to Avoid: There’s no right or wrong when it comes to the Oxford comma. It’s a matter of personal preference. That said, stick to one or the other, and keep it consistent in everything you write.

    8. Hyphen (-) vs. Dash (--)
    The Problem: All horizontal lines in text are not created equal.

    Example: I prefer light beer - it’s a little lighter than regular beer.

    How to Avoid: Use a hyphen, or a short line, to bridge two like concepts in a sentence. Use a dash (a long line) to indicate that you’re moving onto a separate idea or train of thought. If you have a sentence where you want to use lines on either side of a middle section, use dashes. If the thought flows between the line, use a hyphen.

    9. Semi-colons
    The Problem: Semi-colons are often misused, particularly where a colon should be used.

    Examples: I brought three things; a toothbrush, a blanket, and a pillow. I was glad to be going on vacation; I need the rest from work.

    How to Avoid: Use a colon if you want to set off a list of items. If you want to include punctuation to separate two related but distinct thoughts, use a semi-colon.

    10. Quotation Mark Placement
    The Problem: Sentence-ending punctuation marks often go outside of quotation marks rather than inside, which is where they belong.

    Example: “I had a great day at work today”!

    How to Avoid: The punctuation is part of the passage you’re quoting. Think about it that way, and it will help you to remember to keep the punctuation inside the quotation marks. Also note, in American English, the punctuation goes inside the quotation marks, while the British punctuate outside of the quotation marks.

    #1 Kaede, Apr 2, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016

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