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Rated: E · Article · Educational · #1259296
A comparison between American and British punctuation usage.
A Guide to Punctuation


Punctuation of British English is not much different from the practice of punctuation in the United States. It is important here to note that British writers and editors use single quotation marks ('/') where Americans use double quotation marks ("/"), and double quotation marks where Americans use single quotation marks.

Two examples will show this:

UK: 'I will consider him the best candidate we can choose', the prime minister said.

US: "I will consider him the best candidate we can choose," the president said.

*Note2* Notice that in British punctuation, the quotation mark after choose precedes the comma. In American punctuation, the quotation mark after choose follows the comma.

Guide to North American Punctuation


*Note3*Symbol/Name: . period
Use:
(1) Placed at end of statements.
(2) Used after initials.
(3) Used after abbreviations.
Example:
(1) Grandfather is old.
(2) J.F.K., T.S. Eliot
(3) Ph.D.

*Note3*Symbol/Name: ? question mark
Use:
(1) Placed at the end of sentences that ask something.
(2) Used in parentheses to express doubt.
Example:
(1) Is your grandfather very old?
(2) Chaucer, born in 1340(?), died in 1400.

*Note3*Symbol/Name: ! exclamation point
Use: Placed at end of statements that show strong feelings.
Example: Wow! Grandfather is old!

*Note3*Symbol/Name: , comma
Use:
(1) Used to separate items in a series.
(2) Used to separate two clauses of a compound sentence joined by a coordinating conjunction.
(3) Used to set off parenthetical information.
(4) Used to set off appositives.
(5) Used to set off an introductory modifier.
(6) Placed after or before the name of someone being addressed.
(7) Used before an exact quotation or to conclude a statement in quotation marks.
(8) Placed after yes, no, oh, and well, and also after interjections.
(9) Used in dates to separate the day and year.
(10) Used to separate the name of a city and state or province.
Example:
(1) My mom is young, witty, and attractive.
(2) My dad is old, but he is in good health.
(3) Fred, who is quite old, is still in good health.
(4) Grandfather, a most generous man, is well regarded in our town.
(5) Despite all her hardships, she remains optimistic. (5a) Hurt by her taunts, he left abruptly. (5b) Politically, his future is not rosy.
(6) Jane, please come here. (6a) We'll miss you, Emma.
(7) "We'll miss you," he said.
(8) Well, the food finally arrived. (8a) Yes, food is what we need.
(9) My grandfather was born on May 7, 1910.
(10) Duluth, Minnesota. Toronto, Ontario.

*Note3*Symbol/Name: " " quotation marks
Use: Used to set off someone's exact words.
Example: "Grandfather is old," Dad said.

*Note3*Symbol/Name: ' ' Single quotation marks
Use: Used for quoted speech within a quoted sentence.
Example: "Using the words attributed to Caesar, 'Et tu, Brute,' John expessed his deep dismay."

*Note3*Symbol/Name: ; semicolon
Use:
(1) Used to separate independent clauses closely related to each other.
(2) Used to separate items in a series when the items include commas.
Example:
(1) Grandfather is old; his face is very wrinkled. (1a) Grandfather is old; however, I'm not sure when he was born.
(2) He has traveled to London, England; Paris, France; and Munich, Germany.

*Note3*Symbol/Name: : colon
Use:
(1) Used before a list.
(2) Used to separate independent clauses when the second clause provides additional information about the first.
(3) Used before a character's lines in a play.
(4) Used to separate the hour from the minutes when writing the time.
Example:
(1) You will need the following items: a pen, a pencil and an eraser.
(2) I now have time to travel: I visit Italy to see Renaissance art and I visit England to see my grandmother.
(3) Peter: We'll fly away.
Wendy: But, Peter, I can't fly.
(4) 6:30

*Note3*Symbol/Name: - dash
Use:
(1) Placed before a sudden break in thought or an interruption.
(2) Used to add emphasis to part of a sentence.
Example:
(1) I want to finish-- but first I must tell you how it all began.
(2) Anne was influential in our community-she was the leading physician and an inspiring speaker -- and could be counted on to lead us to victory.

*Note3*Symbol/Name: ' apostrophe
Use:
(1) Used to indicate a missing letter in contractions.
(2) Used to show possession.
Example:
(1) He's no friend of mine. (1a) She's running for office.
(2) Peter's father treats us badly. (2a) The Smiths' station wagon was damaged.

*Note3*Symbol/Name: ( ) parentheses
Use:
(1) Used to set off additional information from the rest of a sentence.
(2) Used to set off sentences that are separate from the main sentence.
Example:
(1) He has traveled to two cities (London and Paris) and enjoyed them both.
(2) The President campaigned vigorously. (In fact, he made appearances in all 50 states. According to most reports, he was well received.)

*Note3*Symbol/Name: [ ] brackets
Use: Used to set off information inserted to clarify quoted material.
Example: "Nothing was left for him [the president] to do but await word from his ambassador."

Guide to British Punctuation


*Note2*Symbol/Name: . full stop
Use:
(1) Placed at end of statements.
(2) Used after initials.
(3) Used after some abbreviations.
(4) Used to separate the hour from the minutes when writing the time.
Example:
(1) Grandfather is old.
(2) T.S. Eliot
(3) Ph.D., but BBC
(4) 6.30

*Note2*Symbol/Name: ? question mark
Use:
(1) Placed at the end of sentences that ask something.
(2) Used in parentheses to express doubt.
Example:
(1) Is your grandfather very old?
(2) Chaucer, born in 1340(?), died in 1400.

*Note2*Symbol/Name: ! exclamation mark
Use: Placed at end of statements that show strong feelings.
Example: Grandfather is really old!

*Note2*Symbol/Name: , comma
Use:
(1) Used to separate items in a series.
(2) Used to separate two clauses of a compound sentence joined by a coordinating conjunction.
(3) Used to set off parenthetical information.
(4) Used to set off appositives.
(5) Used to set off an introductory modifier.
(6) Placed after or before the name of someone being addressed.
(7) Used before an exact quotation or to conclude a statement in quotation marks.
(8) Placed after yes, no, oh, and well, and also after interjections.
(9) Not used in dates to separate the month and year.
(10) Used to separate the name of a city and state or province.
Example:
(1) My mom is young, witty, and attractive.
(2) My dad is old, but he is in good health.
(3) Fred, who is quite old, still works a full day.
(4) Grandfather, a most generous man, is well regarded in our village.
(5) Despite all her hardships, she remains optimistic. (5a) Hurt by her taunts, he left abruptly. (5b) Politically, his future is not rosy.
(6) Jane, please come here. (6a) We'll miss you, Emma.
(7) He said, 'We'll miss you.' (7a) 'We'll miss you', he said.
(8) Well, the guests finally arrived. (8a) Gosh, a glass of lager is always welcome.
(9) My grandfather was born on 7 May 1910.
(10) London, England. (10a) Banbury, Oxfordshire.

*Note2*Symbol/Name: ' ' quotation marks or inverted commas
Use: Used to set off someone's exact words.
Example: 'Dobbin is old,' Dad said.

*Note2*Symbol/Name: " " Double quotation marks
Use: Used for quoted speech within a quoted sentence.
Example: 'Using the words attributed to Caesar, "Et tu, Brute," John expessed his deep dismay.'

*Note2*Symbol/Name: ; semicolon
Use:
(1) Used to separate independent clauses closely related to each other.
(2) Used to separate items in a series when the items include commas.
Example:
(1) Grandfather is old; his face is very wrinkled. (1a) Grandfather is old; however, I'm not sure when he was born.
(2) He has traveled to Madrid, Spain; Paris, France; and Munich, Germany.

*Note2*Symbol/Name: :colon
Use:
(1) Used before a list.
(2) Used to separate independent clauses when the second clause provides additional information about the first.
(3) Used before a character's lines in a play.
Example:
(1) You will need the following items: a pen, a pencil and a rubber.
(2) I now read only my favorite novelists: the entire group comprises Hardy, Greene, Drabble, and Cary.
(3) Peter: We'll fly away.
Wendy: But, Peter, I can't fly.

*Note2*Symbol/Name: - dash
Use:
(1) Placed before a sudden break in thought or a change of direction in a sentence.
(2) Used to add emphasis to part of a sentence.
Example:
(1) Grandfather is now-What are you doing here?
(2) He said-quite confidently-that everything was fine. (2a) Anne was influential in our community-she was the leading physician and an inspiring speaker-and could be counted on to lead us to victory in the election.

*Note2*Symbol/Name: ' apostrophe
Use:
(1) Used to indicate a missing letter in contractions.
(2) Used to show possession.
Example:
(1) He's sure to fail. (1a) My mum's not at home.
(2) Peter's father is quite sick. (2a) The Smiths' estate car was damaged.

*Note2*Symbol/Name: ( ) parentheses or round brackets
Use: Used to set off additional information from the rest of a sentence.
Example: He has traveled to two cities (Dublin and Munich) and enjoyed them both.

*Note2*Symbol/Name: [ ] square brackets or braces
Use:
(1) Used to set off sentences that are separate from the main sentence.
(2) Used to enclose words or figures.
Example:
(1) Burton was widely known in his time. [He travelled all over Africa.]
(2) He supplied the names of eleven (11) candidates. Eleven [11] candidates. Eleven candidates.




Source: The Volume Library - A Modern, Authoritative Reference for Home and School Use.
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