Elementary rules of usage

  1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.
    Charles's friend

    Burns's poems
  2. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.
    He opened the letter, read it, and made a note of its contents.

    Red, white, and blue gold, silver, or copper.
  3. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.
    January 12, 1977.

    My brother you will be pleased to hear, is now in perfect health.
  4. Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause.
    The situation is perilous, but there is still one chance of escape.

    The early records of the city have disappeared, and the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed.
  5. Do not join independent clauses with a comma.
    If two or more clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.

    Mary Shelly's works are entertaining; they are full of engaging ideas.

    It is nearly half past five; we cannot reach town before dark.
  6. Do not break sentences in two.
    In other words, do not sue periods for commas.

    She was an interesting talker. A woman who had traveled all over the world and lived in half a dozen countries.

    I met them on a Cunard liner many years ago. Coming home from Liverpool to New York.
  7. Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a list of particulars, an appositive, an amplification, or an illustrative quotation.
    Your dedicated whittler requires three props: a knife, a piece of wood, and a back porch.

    Understanding is that penetrating quality of knowledge that grows from theory, practice, conviction, assertion, error, and humiliation.
  8. Use a dash to set off an abrupt break or interruption and to announce a long appositive or summary.
    His first thought on getting out of bed - if he had any thought at all - was to get back in again.

    The rear axle began to make a noise - a grinding, chattering, teeth-gritting rasp.
  9. The number of the subject determines the number of the verb.
    Everybody thinks he has a unique sense of humor.

    Although both clocks strike cheerfully, neither keeps good time.
  10. Use the proper case of pronoun.
    Who knocks?

    The culprit, it turned out, was he.
  11. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.
    Walking slowly down the road, he saw a woman accompanied by two children.

    He saw a woman, accompanied by two children, walking slowly down the road.
Card Set
Elementary rules of usage
Elementary rules of usage