As used in the examples that follow, the semicolon
(;) separates phrases containing commas to avoid
confusion, separates statements of contrast and
statements closely related.
Examples: The party consisted of E. E. Wright; R.
J. Kelly, his secretary; Mrs. Jordan; Martha Bowen, her
nurse; and three accountants. (Without the semicolons,
that could read as nine persons.) The draperies, which
were ornate, displeased me; the walls, light blue, were
pleasing. Yes; that is right.
As used in the following examples, the colon (:)
precedes the final clause and summarizes previous
material; introduces listings, statements and texts;
marks discontinuity; and takes the place of an implied
Examples: States and funds allotted were as
follows: Alabama ,000, Arizona ,000. The
question came up: What does he want to do?
The colon also is used in the following reamers and
In clock time
Examples: 9:20 p.m., 10:30 a.m.
In Biblical and legal citations
Examples: Matt. 2:14, Missouri Statutes
The question mark (?) follows a direct question.
Occasionally, it is used to indicate uncertainty, as with
some dates or identifications. In the latter use, it is
enclosed in parentheses. Note the following examples:
Examples: What happened to Dean? Columbus, an
Italian (?) sailing for the Spanish crown, discovered
The exclamation point (!) is used to indicate
surprise, appeal, incredulity or other strong emotion as
in the following examples:
Examples: You are wonderful! What! He yelled,
The apostrophe () indicates the possessive case of
nouns, omission of figures and contractions. Usually,
the possessive of a singular noun not ending in s is
formed by adding the apostrophe and the s as in the
example that follows:
Example: The boys ball, but the boys bats.
The apostrophe is used in the following instances
After plural possessives
Examples: the girls coats; the marines rifles.
Examples: Ive, isnt, dont.
In omission of figures
Examples: 90s, Class of 22.
The s is omitted and only the apostrophe used in
for conscience sake or in a sibilant double or triple
s as Moses tablet.
As in the following examples, the apostrophe is not
used to form plurals unless it is in the context of the
Examples: MiGs, P-3s, B-52s, ABCs.
Exception: When a single letter is made plural, as
in mind ones ps and qs, the apostrophe is required.
Quotation marks ( ) enclose direct quotations,
phrases in ironical uses, slang expressions, misnomers
and full titles of books, plays, poems, songs, lectures,
speeches, hymns, movies, television, and so forth.
As in the next example, use quotation marks around
nicknames when a persons full name is used.
Example: Paul Bear Bryant.
Note the following examples in which the comma
and period are placed inside the quotation marks. Other
punctuation is placed inside quotation marks only when
it is part of the matter quoted.
Examples: Why call it a gentlemens agreement?
He asked, Is the interview completed?