Grammar- Punctuation

Apostrophes

Possessive- Michael‘s watch. (Michael) + (‘s)

Plural- I love cantaloupes! (No apostrophe, add (s) to pluralize)

It’s is the one instance where the apostrophe always means “it is”

Its is correct when speaking of possession.

Did you see the dog wagging its tail?

It’s Jonny‘s dog. (note the contraction for ‘it is’, then the possessive (‘s))

Other contractions:

Let‘s (let us)

*Who‘s (who is) *see Who/Whose

What‘s (what is)

What if the plural or plural possessive form is needed and the word ends in (s) like “Jones”?

(This is not a universally agreed upon rule, but it is commonly accepted and I personally endorse it.)

That’s Mr. Jones’ house. or That’s Mr. Jones’s house. (both indicate that the house belongs to Mr Jones.)

That’s the Joneses’ car. or That’s the Jonese’s car. (both indicate that the car belongs to the Jones family.)


Commas

The comma should be used to separate clauses. You might say “I went to buy milk, but the store was closed.” There are two clauses here, we could consider each a thought. 1. (I went to buy milk) 2. (the store was closed.) Almost always, words like “If, But, Yet, Or, And” indicate a comma. Examples below:

“We can buy milk, if they have some.”

“I would like some milk, but the store doesn’t have any.”

“Yet, they have no milk.”

“May I buy a gallon of milk, or has the truck still not arrived?”

“I really wanted a glass of milk, and now I’m sad.”

When listing/describing things:

“Jack, Mary, and Sue went to market” This indicates that three separate people went to the market.

“Jack Mary and Sue went to market.” This implies that one person named Sue, and one person named Jack Mary went.

“The night was warm and muggy, and the mosquitoes were out.” Warm and muggy both describe the night and can get away without adding a comma unless you added a third descriptor. (…warm, muggy, and dark, and the mosquitoes…”As it sits with two descriptors, there is no question what the words ‘dark and muggy’ are describing. The comma here is placed to separate the second clause, a separate thought.

A good rule of thumb is that any time there is an implied pause, a diversion of thought, a list, or a description taking place before the subject, check to see if you need a comma.


Hyphens

A hyphen is used to join a modifier.

When an adjective comes before a noun, it can be hyphenated, when it comes after the noun, it is typically not. When the description is not used in the form of an adjective, it is usually not hyphenated.

Side-by-side trees sometimes need trimming.

Trees growing side by side sometimes need trimming.

A self-motivated employee is a hard-working employee. ( Note how both are hyphenated, as each describes one instance of the word employee)

As an employee, it’s good to be self motivated.

As an employee, it’s good to be a hard worker.