Does The Question Mark Come Before Or After The Em-Dash Learn When to Use the Lesser-Used Punctuation Marks

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Learn When to Use the Lesser-Used Punctuation Marks

Everyone is familiar with the more commonly used punctuation marks: the comma, the period, and the question mark. However, many people, in their writing, don’t use the semicolon, the colon, the dash, the parentheses, the bracket, the ellipsis, and the slash as much as they do other punctuation marks. One reason could be not knowing when to use these lesser-used punctuation marks. Another reason could be that there are other punctuation marks that can function basically the same way, if not better, in a sentence. Still, a third reason may be that it is just easier to avoid these punctuation marks to avoid using them incorrectly.

Whatever the reason, here are some simple and easy to remember tips for knowing when to use these lesser-used punctuation marks:

Semicolon:

The semicolon is used to join two independent clauses. (Independent clauses are just two complete sentences that are closely related in meaning.)

The semicolon is used to join two independent clauses when used with a conjunctive adverb such as however, consequently, furthermore, moreover, meanwhile, or otherwise; or with a transitional phrase such as for example, as a result, in fact, or on the other hand.

The semicolon is used to join two independent clauses that contain a comma.

The semicolon is used to join a series of phrases or clauses that are long or that contain commas.

Colon:

The colon is used to introduce a list, an appositive, or a quotation, when the words before colon are an independent clause.

The colon is used after phrase such as the following or as follows.

The colon is used to separate a title and a subtitle.

The colon is used with hours, minutes, and seconds.

The colon is used in chapters and verses of the Bible.

The colon is used in memo formats and for salutations of formal business letters.

Dash:

The dash is used to interrupt a sentence to add information and draw attention to a to the information.

The dash is used to highlight a definition, an appositive, an example, or a contrast.

Parenthesis:

The parentheses (always used in pairs) are used to interrupt a sentence to add information but not draw emphasis to what the parentheses enclose.

The parentheses are used to enclose letters or numbers of listed items in a sentence.

Bracket:

The bracket is used to enclose changes made in quoted material or to add explanations and clarifications to quoted material.

The bracket is used to enclose brief parenthetical material within parentheses.

Ellipsis:

The ellipsis (a set of three spaced periods) is used to show omitted words or punctuation from a quoted source. Use a sentence-ending period after an ellipsis when it falls at the end of a sentence.

Slash:

The slash is used to separate lines of poetry from a quoted source.

The slash is used to indicate fractions.

The slash is used to separate and/or.

Anyone who has found ways to get around using these lesser-used punctuation marks because there were other punctuation marks that worked better, knowing when to use them correctly was troublesome, or they were just easier to avoid, will find that these simple tips will help make writing easy and trouble-free. No more avoiding punctuation marks that could make your writing a powerful means of communication.

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