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Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar and Punctuation

Let's be straight about it, if you want to learn all the grammar basics and tricks you need to take buy an English language teaching book. And as a writer, you will need to do so at some point but only when you master the essentials.

But for now, you need to know about the simple rules to write content that is readable and free of goofy errors.

And yes, we all hate the proofreading part of the writing process when we have to learn about commas placement and sentences structure. But your content won't shine without a little struggle.

The serious problem with school grammar is that it could be outdated or out of the creative writing scope.

The basic blocks of the language

To start from a common ground, you need to get to know the basics of writing and be able to differentiate them from each other so when we refer to one of them in an example, you are able to relate.

We sometime might dive into really really basic things so you're free to skip those parts.


A noun is a person, place or thing. A noun functions as a subject, an object and a subject complement in a sentence. There are various types for nouns that include:

  • Proper nouns: names of people and places that always starts with a capital letter.
  • Common nouns: general naming words for people, places, things and animals.
  • Collective nouns: used to describe a group of persons, places, animals and things.
  • Possessive nouns: names who uses or owns something.
  • Number nouns: names that denote one or many.
  • Compound noun: a noun that is formed by joining two nouns together.
  • Countable nouns: nouns that can be counted.
  • Uncountable names: names that can't be counted.


Verbs are the action words which describe forms of doing and being.


Adjectives are used to further describe a noun.


Adverbs are used to further describe verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.


A preposition is used to show the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another element in the sentence.


Pronouns replace nouns. They shorten and simplify sentences.


A conjunction shows the connection between the elements of the sentence.


Interjections are stand-alone exclamations that act as conversational fillers, often expressing emotion.


Determiners are sometimes considered parts of speech and sometimes not. In either case, they are small words that introduce nouns.

The Basics of Punctuation

Punctuation was invented when there was a need for adding more clarity to speech. People didn't know when to continue reading and when to stop. That' why there was a need for marks that make people slow down while reading, feel the excitement of the writer! And stop because it's the end of a sentence.


  • When a sentence contains an introductory phrase, the comma tells us so by separating it.
  • Any time a brief pause is indicated, in fact, the comma should be used.
  • A comma will mysteriously appear whenever one main action happens at the beginning of a sentence, and then even more happens after a conjunction like or, and or but.
  • Commas also cheerfully separate lists of more than two items, such as a bunch of blogs, a parade of posts, a set of sentences and a party of paragraphs.

Of course if you’re using what is known as the serial comma or the Oxford comma, that would read “. . . a set of sentences, and a party of paragraphs.”

So should you use the serial comma or not? Either is fine. Just be sure you’re consistent about it one way or the other.

In fact, the best general rule of thumb for commas overall is that there is no general rule of thumb. Even the old guideline that says to “use a comma wherever you would pause in speaking” is misleading, because we all speak so differently.

One final note. Don’t overuse commas, but keep in mind that sometimes you really do need them to make your meaning clear.


The colon is used to signal that some very specific information is coming—most often a list. Sometimes it’s a bulleted or numbered list.

There are two types of people in the world:

  1. Morning birds
  2. Night owls

And sometimes it’s a list right there in a sentence.

There are few things you need to do before launching your article: checking grammar, adding substance, using sensory words.


The semicolon indicates a pause that’s a little longer than a comma but not quite as long as an end-of-sentence period. It’s an elegant way of joining two phrases or sentences that might otherwise stand alone.

This can be desirable when you’re at the editing stage of a post and you want to vary the pacing between shorter, crisper sentences and longer, flowing ones for the sake of variety and interest.


Apostrophes are very often used to indicate the omission of letters.

But the primary use of the apostrophe is to show possession. You already know the basic rule for this—use ’s when the possessor is singular and s’ when the possessor is plural.

However, if the plural form of a noun doesn’t already end in the letter s, you should add ’s rather than s’.

Hyphens and dashes

The three types of horizontal punctuation marks are:

The hyphen (the shortest one): –

The en dash (the middle one): –

The em dash (the longest one): —

Most people use the hyphen only, and most of the time that’s fine when blogging. However, if you want to be scrupulously correct, you should use the en dash between date ranges and page numbers.

And you should use the em dash when you want to indicate a sudden shift in thought or tone, give more information, or lend some extra emphasis.

When the compound word is a noun, hyphenate it when it’s clearly naming one single thing:

  • Fred gave his daughter-in-law a Jack-in-the-box.
  • Compound adjectives can be trickier. Here’s the rule—when it comes before the noun it modifies, hyphenate it. When it comes after the noun, don’t.
  • Note the exception that when the first word of a compound adjective ends in “-ly,” no hyphen should be used.

Quotation marks

They are used to show when someone words have been quoted.

They can also be used to indicate a technical jargon, slang or otherwise unfamiliar or non-standard terms.

They are used around the titles of short poems, songs, books, articles and program or presentation title.

And in dialogues, every time the speaker changes you should start a new paragraph and use quotation marks to help the reader keep track of who is saying what.

The biggest confusion about quotation marks is usually over where the punctuation at the end goes—inside or outside?

  • Periods and commas go inside the quotes.
  • Colons and semicolons go outside the quotes.
  • Question and exclamation marks depends on the context. If it is part of the quote itself, it goes inside but if it relates to the larger sentence, it goes outside.

Ellipsis points

These are the three spaced dots or periods used to show that something has been omitted from a quotation. (They are sometimes also used in a creative sense—but that’s a different story).

Note the spaces between the ellipsis points—this is technically the right way to do it. 

( . . . ) but it’s also fine to run them together instead (like…this) as long as you’re consistent about doing it all the time.

Parentheses and brackets

Parentheses tell us that something helpful but not absolutely necessary is being added.

If the parenthetical phrase is in the middle of a sentence (like this), punctuation like that comma goes outside the parentheses because it relates to the sentence as a whole.

If the parenthetical phrase ends the sentence, the punctuation still goes outside the parentheses if it relates to the sentence as a whole (like this).

But If the parenthetical phrase is a sentence all by itself, the ending punctuation goes inside the parentheses. (Like this).

Sometimes you can have both, which is correct even though it looks pretty weird (like this!).

Parentheses are often used as formatting devices to make information visually clearer.

The ideal person: (a) doesn’t smoke, (b) doesn’t drink, (c) doesn’t do drugs, (d) doesn’t swear, (e) doesn’t get mad, (f) doesn’t exist.

Square brackets are used to show when clarifying information within a quote is not part of the quote itself.

Square brackets have a handful of other specific uses, such as in dictionary definitions, but they can also be utilized as visual or stylistic devices in the same way as parentheses.


Finally, as a blogger, you are freer than writers in the more traditional forms of media to have a little fun with punctuation. So don’t be afraid to use it in creative ways that lend flavor and tone. And remember that writing is just like any art, it takes time to be excelled. Most importantly, don’t lose yourself along the process.