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I have always had issues with writing, I never understood…

Good morning, I have always...
Good morning, I have always had issues with writing, I never understood how to use punctuations in a sentence. Can you please break down when is the proper time to use them. I do know quotation marks and periods.
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1/14/2018
Mary Baker
Mary Baker, Consultant
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 62
Experience: Owner at Solid Communications
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Hello, my name is*****'m a professional freelance copywriter, journalist and editor. I can certainly help you with this request! Please allow me a few moments to compose my answer and I'll be right back. :)

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thanks for your response.

I know most punctuation websites are overly technical and hard to understand, so let me try to break it down for you.

You've said you are familiar with periods and quotation marks. I'm guessing you are also familiar with question marks. So let's tackle some of the trickier ones, and I'll try to keep it simple.

------------------------------

Commas: Commas are used to separate items in a list, create a natural break or pause, or insert a related thought. For instance, commas are used like this to cordon off an intro clause. See what I did there? I see in your original question you used a comma correctly, so I'm going to assume this is also an easy one for you, although some uses may occasionally trip you up. Fortunately, if you are an avid reader of high-quality journalism and fiction, you'll soon pick up on their uses. I often think of them as like a "breath" in a song--they're a sort of logical thought-pause.

Exclamation Points (!) and Ellipses (...): My rule is simple--don't use them. These are two of the most overused and badly used marks. I will occasionally use them in casual emails, private messages and texting, but I almost never use them in professional writing.

Colon: Like this example, colons are used to announce the beginning of a list, whether it's a bullet-point list like this one, or within a sentence. Two or three items in a sentence can be separated by commas, but longer lists are usually announced with a colon.

Semi-colon (;): This one trips a lot of people up, but it's actually pretty easy to learn when you consider that it has just one main use, and one minor use. Its purposes are entirely different than the colon (:), so it always annoys me when books or websites pair it with the colon. It's main use is to separate two long but related clauses in one sentence. In that way, it is often used instead of 'and' or 'but' or even 'because'; it's a cleaner way to connect two long thoughts into one. It's often used in this way by more advanced writers. When in doubt, just separate the two clauses into separate sentences. How simple is that?

Its second purpose is useful when you have a long list of stuff, but each item has commas in it, so using commas to separate the items is just terribly confusing. In that case, you can go back and insert semi-colons between each item so the list makes sense.

Parentheses (): These are used to insert a private note to the reader about something in your sentence. Usually it's a note that would be awkward to turn into a followup sentence. Typically used for just a quick thought or important point about what you are saying. You don't find these much in fiction anymore--they are typically found more in instructional texts. Parentheses are like whispered comments in the middle of a conversation.

Long dash (--): I love the long dash, and am probably guilty of over-using it. It can be used like a semi-colon to separate two related thoughts that you want in the same sentence. It can also be used to insert a related clause right into the middle of a sentence. It's cleaner and more professional looking than parentheses.

The one thing I like to emphasize to students of punctuation is that the marks are there to serve YOU. You are not a slave to them. Play with the rules, experiment, find out how to use them to make your personal voice and writing style shine through.

------------------------------

Some sites I recommend:

Grammar Revolution - Punctuation Rules

The Punctuation Guide - Top Ten Tips

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
basically, when writing a sentence using a breath I can use a comma instead of a period?

Yes, exactly. Commas are very versatile, and can be used to create pauses like a breath. When in doubt, imagine you are on TV and reading from a teleprompter that shows you only a few words at a time. Where would you break the sentence naturally? Those are the spots that may or may not require a comma.

For instance, your question above is okay, but it would read better and make more sense to me if it looked like this:

"So basically, when writing a sentence using a breath, I can use a comma instead of a period?"

That's because you could have simply asked, "So basically, I can use a comma instead of a period?" But you wanted to be very specific, so you inserted a qualifier clause in the middle of the sentence.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you I was going to put a comma after the word breath. Now I'm thinking comma after you correct?

No, you were correct the first time--the comma goes after breath.

"So basically, when writing a sentence using a breath, I can use a comma instead of a period?"

You see? Your instincts are already good!

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Nervous but I need more practice. I turned down alot of office job because of this. Thank you.

You are most welcome! I'm sure your attentiveness to this issue will be appreciated by any employer.

Please remember to rate my service! :)

Mary Baker
Mary Baker, Consultant
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 62
Experience: Owner at Solid Communications
Verified
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