More Punctuation Tips: Use The Apostrophe and Quotation Marks Correctly For Clear Writing.


Continuing our punctuation review, today’s blog covers two more important marks, the apostrophe and quotation marks.


a. An apostrophe should be used in a contraction (the shortening of a word, syllable, or word group by omission of a sound or letter; see Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed., p. 271),  where a word is omitted.

don’t do it

we won’t

we’ll do it

he’ll be there

you’ll be sorry

it’s all yours

b. Don’t use an apostrophe where personal pronouns form the possessive.

its, his,  hers, ours, yours,  theirs

c. Where nouns are concerned,

for nouns not ending in s add  ‘s  (men’s shoes)

for nouns ending in s add  ‘ (ladies’ shoes)

d. For proper names ending in s (John Adams’ papers, Jones’ house, Morris’ book).  When there is a possessive plural to write:  we rode in the Adamses’ car to the Joneses’ house.

e. Where joint possession is involved, use an apostrophe only for the last name in the series.  (Smith and Jones’ golf lessons are the best in the club).

f. For plurals of letters of the alphabet or numbers, add ‘s. (His 5’s and E’s are hard to recognize.)

Quotation Marks.

a. Use quotation marks to enclose exact words of a direct quotation but not an indirect quotation.

Direct quotation – As they trudged up the hill Emily remarked, “What a beautiful view.”

Indirect quotation –  It’s a beautiful view she said.

Single quotation marks are used to enclose a quotation within a   quotation.

Joey laughed and said, “You may be right.  But I remember     Ben Franklin’s crack at the Continental Congress, ‘If we don’t hang together we’ll surely all hang separately.'”

Note that punctuation marks such as a period or comma go inside the closing quotation marks; colon and semi-colon are placed outside.  Other marks such as an exclamation point, dash, or question mark are placed inside the quotation marks if they apply to the quotation alone; otherwise they are placed outside.  Here are some examples:

Bruce yelled out as loud as he could, “Fore!”

The trouble with Dickson is that he thinks he’s General Patton  when he shouts “Let’s go now!”

Donna inquired anxiously, “Do you think we’ll ever get out of here?”

The list was posted conspicuously, listing the “household grievances” as follows:  dirty floor, clothes strewn around, unwashed windows, and unmade beds.

Whoever wrote that the U.S. Government should be run “like a business,” including a president with “business experience,” and an “experienced board of directors,” was absolutely right.

Jack hit the nail on the head when he said, “What made this  country great is one thing and one thing only: free enterprise!”

Note:  The next blog will be posted on Friday, May 25, and will commemorate Memorial Day.  The subject will be Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history.

Copyright© 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

Published 5/18/12.  485 words.


Filed under clear writing, punctuation, Writing Improvement

2 responses to “More Punctuation Tips: Use The Apostrophe and Quotation Marks Correctly For Clear Writing.

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