ATI TEAS GUIDE TO ENGLISH & LANGUAGE USAGE | PUNCTUATION

ATI TEAS ENGLISH AND LANGUAGE USAGE REVIEW – PUNCTUATION

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QUIZ QUESTIONS LISTED AT END OF REVIEW

Punctuation questions address the correct use of punctuation in regular text and quotations. You must know the appropriate use of periods, questions marks, exclamation points, commas, semicolons, colons, apostrophes, hyphens, double quotation marks, and single quotation marks.

PERIODS, QUESTIONS MARKS, AND EXCLAMATION POINTS

Periods are used at the end of a complete sentence. Question marks are used at the end of a question, and exclamation points are used to mark the end of a forceful command or a statement that expresses strong emotions.

Amira went skating Sunday.                              Period

Did you know Amira went skating Sunday?               Question mark

I’m shocked that Amira went skating Sunday! Exclamation point




 

DEPENDENT AND INDEPENDENT CLAUSES

In order to understand the correct use of commas and semicolons, you must first understand the difference between a dependent and an independent clause. Clauses are groups of words that make up sentences. A dependent clause can’t stand as a complete sentence on its own, whereas an independent clause forms a complete sentence and can stand on its own.

She forgot her sunglasses at the library.

The clause in this example is an independent clause because it forms a complete or simple sentence. It can stand entirely on its own.

The clause in the following example, by contrast, is a dependent clause. It does not form a complete sentence; we need more information to understand the full meaning being conveyed.

Because she was rushing to get to school

Here are a few more examples of dependent and independent clauses.

After the football game ended                          Dependent

The committee voted against the bill                        Independent

You really should learn to tie your shoe laces  Independent

Although Laura drove all over town                           Dependent

COMMAS, SEMICOLON, AND COLONS

Dependent and independent clauses are important in understanding how and when to use commas and semicolons. A comma is a punctuation mark that shows a pause between ideas. Among other uses, commas can be used to separate items in a list and to join parts of sentences.

The following example of a simple sentence uses commas correctly to separate three items in a list.

Rashid bought school supplies, water, and a backpack at the store.

Now consider this sentence, which uses commas correctly to join parts of a sentence.

Even though it was cold outside, we went camping anyway.

Notice that here we have a complex sentence and the comma is being used to join a dependent clause – Even though it was cold outside – with an independent clause, we went camping anyways.

Commas can also be used to join two independent clauses in a compound sentence, but the comma must be followed by a connecting word such as and, but, for, or so. These connecting words are called coordinating conjunctions. There are seven coordinating conjunctions that can be used to join independent clauses.

Coordinating Conjunctions

  • for
  • and
  • nor
  • but
  • or
  • yet
  • so

Coordinating conjunctions can be remembered by using a memory phrase. The first letter of each conjunction spells out the word FANBOYS.

If you use a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses in a compound sentence, a comma must come directly before the conjunction.

A crowd gathered outside the building, and the protestors began to seem restless. Correct.

A crowd gathered outside the building, the protestors began to seem restless. Incorrect.

A crowd gathered outside the building and the protestors began to seem restless. Incorrect.

The first example uses the coordinating conjunction and, which is correctly preceded by a comma. The second sentence is incorrect because it omits the coordinating conjunction. The last example is incorrect because it omits the comma before the coordinating conjunction.

Semicolons can be used to join two independent clauses without a coordinating conjunction. The second example above could be corrected by replacing the comma with a semicolon as follows.

A crowd gathered outside the building; the protestors began to seem restless. Correct.

Semicolons are not used to join independent clauses with coordinating conjunctions, but they can be used with transitional words, such as however, nevertheless, and therefore. Whenever a semicolon joins two independent clauses with the help of a transitional word, a comma must follow the transitional word.

The evidence against the defendant was strong; nevertheless, the defendant was acquitted. Correct.

In the preceding example, the transitional word nevertheless is preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma. Without both of these punctuation marks, the sentence would be punctuated incorrectly.

The evidence against the defendant was strong; nevertheless the defendant was acquitted. Incorrect.

The evidence against the defendant was strong nevertheless, the defendant was acquitted. Incorrect.

Similar to semicolons, colons can also be used to join independent clauses. For a colon to be used, the second independent clause must expand upon the ideas in the first independent clause, as in the following sentence.

The evidence against the defendant was strong: the prosecution had gathered testimony from multiple eye witnesses. Correct.

Colons can also be used to introduce elements in a list.

Three items should accompany you on every rafting trip: a rain poncho, a waterproof lunch kit, and a sturdy life jacket. Correct.




 

APOSTROPHES AND HYPHENS

Apostrophes are used to show possession and to form contractions. To show possession, we normally add an apostrophe followed by an s.

Noun Form Possessive Form Example
the sun the sun’s the sun’s rays
a dog a dog’s a dog’s toy
our car our car’s our car’s horn

 

If the noun that is showing possession is a plural that ends in the letter s, normally only an apostrophe is used.

Noun Form Possessive Form Example
the families the families’ the families’ picnic baskets
the windows the windows’ the windows’ panes
your sneakers your sneakers’ your sneakers’ laces

 

Hyphens are used to separate some prefixes from the main part of the word, or root word. Hyphens should always be used following the prefixes all-, ex-, and self-. They should also be used after prefixes that precede a proper noun or a proper adjective.

Prefixes Proper Nouns and Adjectives
all-seeing trans-Siberian
ex-employer mid-Atlantic
self-supporting un-American

 

Hyphens are also used with compound adjectives that come before the word they modify.

Emma was strong-willed person.                               Correct

Treats are an often-used incentive at the vet’s office.        Correct

Sunday’s game was full of record-breaking plays.              Correct

 

Hyphens are not used, however, in compound adjectives that start with adverbs ending in -ly.

Incorrect Correct
a frequently-made error a frequently made error
a filmsily-built house a filmsily built house
an awfully-loud noise an awfully loud noise

 

In the left column in the table above, the words frequently, flimsily, and awfully are all adverbs ending in -ly. Hyphens should not be used following these words, as shown in the column on the right.

QUOTATION MARKS

Quotation marks can come in double or single form, each with its own specific uses. Double quotation marks are used to signal direct quotations.

Sarah said, “It’s a lovely day to go hiking.”

A comma should also follow the direct quotation if the phrase is a statement.

“It’s a lovely day to go hiking,” Sarah said.

If the quoted phrase is a question, it should end with a question mark.

“Would you like to go on a hike with me?” Sarah asked.

Question marks, periods, commas, and exclamation points should be placed inside quotation marks.

The detective asked the witness several times, “Are you sure”?                   Incorrect

The detective asked the witness several times, “Are you sure?”          Correct

Single quotation marks are used to denote a quotation within a quotation.

Mrs. Juarez replied, “Sam said that he would ‘need the car soon,’ so don’t keep it for too long.”

It is not correct to use single quotation marks to show direct quotations. Double quotation marks should always be used for this purpose.

The errand boy told his boss that he was ‘just going out for pizza run.’                  Incorrect

The errand boy told his boss that he was “just going out for a pizza run.”              Correct

Whenever quotation marks are used – either single or double – they should always precede and follow the quoted phrase. Both the beginning and ending quotation marks must be included.

Everyone yelled, “Go team! And cheered the players to victory.                   Incorrect

Everyone yelled, “Go team!” and cheered the players to victory.                           Correct

In this example, the first sentence is missing the quotation marks after team that close the quoted phrase. The second example corrects this error by including the opening and closing quotation marks.

ATI TEAS ENGLISH & LANGUAGE USAGE Punctuation

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