Some Punctuation Tips, Just for You

In my last article, I described how to use commas correctly. Here are some more tips, which will improve your punctuation. These tips give a standard to punctuate elements like etc., e.g., i.e., etc.

As I said in the comma rules article, you should always have a comma after these elements:

“Exempli gratia (e.g.),” Latin meaning for example
“Id est (i.e.),” Latin meaning that is
“Et cetera (etc.),” Latin meaning and so on

All of these take a comma after the period. This should be followed, though so many occasions makes it difficult to follow the rule. Let’s analyze the exceptions.

1. When it ends a sentence, the appropriate punctuation is always a period (or exclamation mark or question mark according to the type of the sentence). Hence, you can’t obviously put a comma after etc when it ends a sentence.

If you are using parenthetical elements, you normally put the element separated from the main sentence by commas. However, if you have yet another element, parenthesized within the parenthetical element, containing an etc, then you needn’t put the comma outside the closing parenthesis, as etc itself takes a parenthesis. For instance:

Mark, who sold John his pets (a mongoose, a parrot, etc.,) found John in the library. (Notice, the comma is placed with etc within the closing parenthesis.)

2. Needn’t use the comma when etc appears before a semicolon.

At the park there were friends of Harry—David, Tim, Mary, etc.; they were having a heated discussion.

On all other occasions, it is recommended that you use commas. If any exception arises, that will be updated here. The comma usage with the other elements also takes the same rules. Also, don’t forget to include commas when you refer to the titles like Jr., Sr., etc.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

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