English Rules on Comas, Semicolons, and Colons

Created by mbpazdan 

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Use commas to separate items in a series

Always at a stop, look, and listen before crossing railroad tracks.

Use commas to separate 2 or more adjectives preceding a noun

The clever, cute terrier who stars in the show Wishbone is really named Soccer.

Use a comma before coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, so, yet) when it join independent clauses in a compound sentence

I enjoyed the "King and I" but "Oklahoma!" is still my favorite musical.

Use commas to set off an expression that interrupts a sentence

The applications, by the way, were mailed 3 days ago.

Use commas to set off nonessential participial phrases and nonessential subordinate clauses

This small turtle, crossing the street slowly, was in danger.

Use commas to set off nonessential appositives and nonessential appositive phrases

My best friend, Nancy, is studying ballet.

Use commas to set off words of direct address

Mrs. Clarkson this package is addressed to you.

Use commas to set off parenthetical expressions

In my opinion, the movie was to violent.

Use commas after certain introductory elements

Use a comma to set off a mild exclamation such as well, oh, or why at the beginning of a sentence. Other introduction words, such as yes, and no, are set off w/ commas.

Well, I think we should ask for help.

Use commas in certain conventional situations

Use commas to separate items in dates and addresses

I think Passover begins on Wednesday, April 14 this year.

Use a semicolon b/t independent clauses in a sentence when they are not joined by and, but, for, nor, or, so, or yet

Our parents settled the argument for us; they took us to both places.

Use semicolon b/t independent clauses that are joined by a conjunction adverb or a transitional expression

The popular names of certain animals are misleading; for example, the koala bear is not a bear.

A semicolon (rather than a comma) may lead to separate independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction when the clauses contain commas

Our strongest defensive players are Carlos, Will, and Jared; and Kareem and Matt are excellent on offense.

Use a colon before a list of items, especially expressions like as follows or the following

Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all endurance.

Use a colon before a statement that explains or clarifies a preceding statement

Luis felt that he had accomplished something worth while: He has written and recorded his 1st song.

Use a colon before a long, formal statement or quotation

Patrick Henry concluded his revolutionary speech before the Virginia House of Burgesses w/ these ringing word: "Is life so dear..."

Use a colon in certain conventional situations
*time
*business letter
*biblical verse

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