The following sections identify common punctuation usage within the English language. While each subheading identifies widely accepted rules for practical application, it must be noted that there are always exceptions and alternatives. To ensure that punctuation does not overwhelm a text, individual ideas must be considered in terms of a thought progression and should allow for pauses and transitions as they would in natural speech.
Apostrophes are used for a variety of purposes in modern text. One instance is with contractions where the apostrophe is placed at the spot where the letter(s) has been removed. This will drastically improve your essay writing process. Additionally, apostrophes show ownership and are placed prior to the (s) at the end of a word to demonstrate singular possession. Plural nouns demonstrating possession use an apostrophe prior to the (s) in cases such as womens and after the (s) in cases such as pitchers.
Brackets or parentheses are used for several circumstances including demonstration of clarity or addition, reference to other authors, and enclosure for numbers in a series of listed items. Falling at the interim or at the end of a statement, brackets highlight the authors aside, additional text, or clarify a statement. When referencing external works, brackets recognize the authors, identifying the source of data. To clarify a number sequence, each number should be placed inside of its unique set of brackets prior to the item that it represents.
Colons represent a transitional punctuation, often indicating the presence of a list or as a semicolon replacement. Colons will precede the list and will always follow a complete sentence unless used in conjunction with subsequent bullet points. When replacing a semicolon with a colon, two independent sentences are joined, oftentimes highlighting the relationship between clauses. Colons are also used to introduce quotations in text which are more than three lines in length or following the salutation in a business letter.
Semicolons join two independent clauses in which a conjunction has been excerpted. Transitioning between clauses using words such as however, therefore, namely, etc., the semicolon links the two thoughts without using a period. When the subsequent text after an independent clause is a list, semicolons may be used in conjunction with the aforementioned transition words to complete the thought. Semicolons are also important in a series series where one or more of the units contain a comma. Finally, semicolons can be used prior to a conjunction in which independent clauses border either side.