Punctuation

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Hyphens for Clarity

Hyphens within a word can make some words clearer. They are frequently used with prefixes ending with the same vowel as the root begins with to show pronunciation or emphasize meaning. They are also frequently used to distinguish between words. Examples: co-op (instead of coop, also prefix ending with same vowel as root beginning) re-elect

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Semicolons in a Series

When the items in a series themselves contain commas, separate the items with semicolons. Incorrect: We visited Erie, Pennsylvania, Buffalo, New York, and Toronto, Ontario. (Confusing. Semicolons needed to make clear distinctions.) Correct: We visited Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; and Toronto, Ontario.

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Commas After Introductory Clauses

Place a comma after an introductory adverb clause. An adverb clause shows time, place, degree, extent, cause, or condition. It is a subordinate clause which begins with a subordinating conjunction. Correct: Before the curtain fell, the actors bowed. Correct: If the next two nights are sellouts, the play will be extended. Note that if a

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Commas with Interrupting Expressions

In addition to the items covered in Commas with Introductory Words, conjunctive adverbs are also set off by commas. Conjunctive Adverbs are adverbs which join sentence parts. The following words are the most common conjunctive adverbs: also besides furthermore however indeed instead moreover nevertheless otherwise therefore thus Correct: John headed this way; however, he did

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Commas with Nonrestrictive Modifiers

A modifying word, phrase, or clause following a noun is set off by commas if it presents information which is not essential to identify the noun or the meaning of the sentence. This is called a nonrestrictive modifier, i.e., it does not restrict the meaning of the noun or sentence. Example: Any student not sitting

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