Punctuation Rules for American English

Apostrophe

Apostrophes show possession, plurality, and contractions.
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Brackets [ ]

Brackets enclose changes or additions made to quotations.
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Colon :

Colons introduce different types of grammatical elements.
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Comma ,

Commas separate main clauses within sentences.
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Ellipses . . .

Ellipsis points indicate an omission from a direct quotation.
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Em Dash

Em dashes are for emphasizing parts of a sentence.
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En Dash

En dashes are used to indicate a range of numbers.
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Exclamation Point !

Exclamation points end emphatic statements.
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Hyphen

Hyphens are sometimes used to form compound words.
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Parentheses ( )

Parentheses enclose supplemental information within sentences.
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Period .

Periods are used to end most sentences.
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Question Mark ?

Question marks are used to end direct questions.
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Quotation Marks ” “

Quotation marks are used to enclose direct quotations.
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Semicolon ;

Semicolons join related main clauses within sentences.
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Slash /

Slashes indicate options and unindented lines of poetry.
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