Let’s face it: Punctuation is hard. Even the most seasoned writers can get tripped up on the rules. Should that comma really be there, or is it just taking up space? Should this apostrophe go before or after the S? Where in the world does the semicolon go? Luckily, TED-Ed has gathered four lessons to help you perfect your punctuation.
Let’s start with the basics. It isn’t easy holding complex sentences together (just ask a conjunction or a subordinate), but the clever little comma can help lighten the load. But how can you tell when help is really needed? Terisa Folaron offers some tricks of the comma trade.
It may seem like the semicolon is struggling with an identity crisis. It looks like a comma crossed with a period. Maybe that’s why we toss these punctuation marks around like grammatical confetti; we’re confused about how to use them properly. Emma Bryce clarifies best practices for the semi-confusing semicolon.
It’s possessive. It’s often followed by S’s. And it’s sometimes tricky when it comes to its usage. It’s the apostrophe. Laura McClure gives a refresher on when to use apostrophes in writing.
If you read “Bob, a DJ and a clown” on a guest list, are three people coming to the party, or only one? That depends on whether you’re for or against the Oxford comma — perhaps the most hotly contested punctuation mark of all time. When do we use one? Can it really be optional, or is there a universal rule? TED-Ed explores both sides of this comma conundrum.
Looking for more lessons to improve your writing? Check out this TED-Ed Series on ‘Playing with language‘.