The Most Useful Punctuation and Capitalization Rules
-Use commas before or after speaker tags.
She said, “Call me at home.”
-Use commas to set apart appositives.
That man, the one with the hat, left.
-Use commas after each item in lists (except the last).
John, Jane, and Jose left early.
-Use commas after introductory words or phrases.
First of all, you should listen to me.
-Use commas between number dates and years.
It all happened on May 3, 1999.
-Use commas between geographical places.
She lived in Tampa, Florida.
-Use commas after greetings/closings in personal letters.
Dear Ralph, … Sincerely, …
-Use commas after nouns of direct address.
Kristin, leave some for your sister.
-Use commas before conjunctions to join two independent clauses.
I liked her, and she liked me.
-Use exclamation points for surprise or strong emotions.
The decision really shocked me!
-Use quotation marks before and after direct quotations.
Sue said, “I’m going to bed.”
-Use quotation marks before and after songs, poems, document titles, book chapters, magazine articles, and short story titles.
Whenever I hear “Clementine,” it reminds me of “Leaves of Grass” and “The Gettysburg Address.”
-Use colons after business letter greetings.
-Use colons to introduce lists.
The following: shoes, pants, and…
-Use colons between numbers in relationship.
-Use semicolons to join independent clauses without conjunctions.
Jamal went to school; Larry met him.
-Underline movie, television show, book, magazine, and work of art titles.
I saw the wonderful Fiddler on the Roof last night.
-Use apostrophes for contractions.
I can’t see what they’re doing.
-Use apostrophes for singular and plural possessives.
Tom’s and the girls’ coats were red.
-Use parentheses to explain or define.
The hombre (man) rode off alone.
-Capitalize proper nouns (a name that is given to special persons, places, or things).
Ryan visited Los Angeles to visit the Holocaust Museum.
-Capitalize holidays, dates, groups, organizations, and businesses.
Last Easter on March 24, 2002 the P.T.A. and McDonald’s helped out.
-Capitalize the first, last, and any important words in titles.
Prince Charles’s favorite book was Islands of Adventure.
-Capitalize the names of languages and peoples.
He spoke Spanish to the Indians.
-Capitalize special events and historical periods.
The New Year’s Day Parade celebrates the Year of the Dog.
Find whole-class diagnostic grammar and mechanics assessments, enabling 4th–12th grade teachers to differentiate instruction with 72 targeted worksheets in Teaching Grammar and Mechanics. The book has a full year of 15-minute sentence lifting lessons with standards-based mechanics, spelling, and grammar skills that teach all the conventions needed for successful writing.