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Brush Up On Your Punctuation Rules for the ACT

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Commas

Commas are used to separate a list of itemsaada4

Example

We had ice cream, chocolate, jellies, Rseeand marshmallows

Commas are used to separate two adjectives when the adjectives are interchangeable.

Example

It was an exciting, electrifying show

Commas are used when starting a sentence with a dependent clause,

Example

When John walked in to the room, it got very quiet.

Commas are used to separate nonessential information from the rest of the sentence

Example

The woman, who was very strong, won the shot put competition

Apostrophes

Commas are used to show possession

Tom’s thumb (Singular Possessive-comma before the “s”)

The kids’ gloves (Plural Possessive-comma after the “s”)

Commas are used to form contractions.

Example 1

There is a giant elephant (Without the Contraction)

There’s a giant elephant (With the Contraction)

Example 2

You would like that

You’d like that

Colons

Colons are used after an independent clause when it is followed by a list

Example

There was a variety of desserts: pie, cheese cake, ice cream, and cake

Colons are used after an independent clause when it is followed by a quotation

Example

Yogi Berra said it best: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Colons are used after an independent clause when it is followed by an appositive

Example

Irish chefs are supposed to know how to prepare an Irish stew: meat cubes cooked with potatoes, carrots, and pearl barley.

Colons are used after an independent clause when it is followed by an idea directly related to the independent clause.

Example

The vote was unanimous: the older candidate had won.

Semicolons

Semicolons are used to join two independent clauses together when the second clause restates the first.

Example

I’m not sure how to do it: let’s get help

Semicolons are used to join two independent clauses together when the second clause begins with a conjunctive adverb (however, therefore, etc.) or a transition (in fact, for example, etc.).

Example

The cave is dark; therefore, I do not want to go in there alone.

Dashes

Dashes are used to emphasize the content enclosed within dashes

Example

Upon discovering the errors—all 200 of them—the publisher immediately recalled the books.

End Punctuation

Periods are used at the end of a sentence that makes a statement.

Example

He will do it again.

Questions marks are used after direct questions.

Example

Who are you?

An exclamation point is used at the end of a sentence to show strong emotion.

Example

Don’t do that!

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