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When NOT to Use Commas

With Compound Verbs Do not use a comma to separate the paired parts in paired compound subjects or compound verbs. Incorrect: She lets me watch her mom, and pop fight. (Compound subject. No need for comma with the word and already there.) Correct: She lets me watch her mom and pop fight. Incorrect: They would

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Underlining Foreign Words or Abbreviations

Underline or italicize foreign words or abbreviations unless they are regularly used in English. Because the English language is very flexible, it may sometimes be hard to tell whether some words are widely used. Check any word or phrase you have a question about in a dictionary. Clearly words like champagne or chimpanzee or an

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Apostrophes with Verb Contractions

Apostrophes generally show missing letters in contractions. In most formal writing such contractions should be avoided. The most common contractions involve verbs in five situations. 1. Verbs with not contracted, or shortened. Examples: aren’t don’t isn’t wasn’t can’t weren’t weren’t wouldn’t doesn’t hasn’t haven’t couldn’t Note: The word won’t is a contraction of will not–in

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Semicolons with Clauses

Semicolons are used to separate independent clauses in three different cases. 1. When there are no conjunctions separating the clauses. Incorrect: I like you, John likes you, too. (Semicolon needed) Correct: I like you; John likes you, too. 2. When the clauses are separated by a conjunctive adverb or other parenthetical expression set off by

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Underlining Items Which Name Themselves

Underline or italicize numbers, symbols, letters, and words which name themselves (or which are used as the figure or word). Incorrect: “Give me a C!” the cheerleader shouted. (The letter is used as a letter, it names itself.) Correct: “Give me a C!” the cheerleader shouted. Incorrect: His 2’s look like 7’s. (The numbers are

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