(.) PERIODS (also called a full stop in British English)
A period is like a red traffic signal. It signals the end of a sentence.

If you put a period too soon, you create a sentence fragment. A sentence fragment is like stepping on your car brakes too soon and stopping short. If you do not a period soon enough, you create a run-on sentence. A run-on sentence is like forgetting to put on your brakes and going through a traffic light.

We like shorter sentences in English than you do in Italian.

Example of sentence fragment: I never got.
Example of a run-on sentence: I am doing my Master’s thesis in molecular biology and even if it is difficult I never give up because I am a determined person just like my mother used to always tell me if at first you don’t succeed try try again.

Periods are used after abbreviations, like the one for junior.
Example: John Jr. was John Kennedy’s son.

(?) Question Marks
Just like in Italian, we use question marks to signal that a direct question as been asked.
What is your name?

(!) = Exclamation Marks
Exclamation marks add drama for when there is strong emotion. They often follow interjections of surprise or frustration or commands.

Tell me your name!

Wow! That is a beautiful name.

Commas are like a yellow traffic signal. They create a small pause where a reader can take a breath.

Commas are used in a list to separate a series of three or more words, phrases or clauses. The oxford comma is the one used between the last two items of the list. We do not use a comma between the last two items only in the case that they have a special relationship like nutella and bread.

We need to buy juice, milk, and soda.

We need to buy juice, milk, soda, bread and nutella.

Commas must be used before the f.a.n.b.o.y.s conjunctions – for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so – to create a compound sentence out of two independent clauses. One exception is the conjunction “because.” We do not put a comma before it, and it is not one of the fanboys.

I love your new hair color, and you should never go back to blond.

We use a comma to surround names in a sentence when we are directly addressing someone.

I want to tell you something, Giovanni, and you are not going to like it.We use commas to separate coordinate adjectives.

Cardi B. is a dynamic, determined individual.We use commas to separate dependent clauses at the beginning of a complex sentence.

Although I tried to resist, I could not help falling in love with you.We use commas to separate non essential/parenthetical parts of the sentence from the rest.

However, if you refuse to negotiate, which is not a smart choice, I will have no other option, but to call the authorities.We use commas with dates.

His birthday is actually on Tuesday, February 14, 1993.We use commas in big numbers.

The winning lottery ticket is worth $1,595,000.We use commas to separate city and state names.

Michelle Obama was born in Chicago, Illinois.

We use commas after the abbreviations i.e and e.g.

The course entails several possiblities for international travel i.e., internship placements.We use commas to introduce quotations.

He said, “I never meant to hurt you.”We use commas in conditional statements after the “if” clause when the “if” clause comes first.

If you betray my trust, I will kill you.We use commas to separate question tags from the rest of the sentence.

It is a genius idea, isn’t it?We use commas to separate contrasting parts of a sentence.

Despite all her efforts, her sister ended up in prison.We use commas to separate introductory words or phrases or certain transition words from the rest.

Today, I am not going to take no for an answer.

Semicolons are stronger than commas. They represent the kind of pause that happens right when the yellow traffic signal is about to turn red. It is a stronger pause than a comma.We use semicolons to join two independent clauses when they share related themes and we do not want to use a conjunction.

Parma is a vibrant city; the food and the people cannot be beat.We use semicolons to make a list when the other items of the list are longer phrases and possibly already have commas in them.

The authors of bestselling novels, poetry, and biographies; painters of every description; and singers from every edition of San Remo all attended the gala.

We use colons after an independent clause – a complete sentence -to introduce one of the three following things:
– a list
– a quotation
– a definition or defining statement

The film was full of many types of symbolism: religious, literary, and historical.

The painting reminded me of a Beyonce lyric: “I woke up like this.”

Chance the Rapper has a lyrical style all his own: His cadence, rhymes, and story-telling are nothing like anyone else’s out there.

( —_____—_____-_——___- ) EM DASHES
We use EM dashes (the width of a lowercase m) to add emphasis to a part of the sentence. Dashes add variety when we have already used a lot of commas or parentheses. They can take the place of commas, semicolons, or a colon.

If you have already used a bunch of commas, and you find yourself in difficulty — a dash can be just what you need.

His charm lies in the fact that – despite his terrible character – he never gives up on his dreams.

When we use a little line to join words serving as a single adjective like big-mouthed, or with numbers like twenty-five, that punctuation mark is called a hyphen.

Unlike Italian or even British English, American English dictates that we almost always put the final period inside the quotation marks.

Maria said, “Please, do not leave me like this.”

“Do not leave me,” said Maria to her boyfriend.

In the words of Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?”

( ‘) APOSTROPHES are usually used to show possession. It is necessary to understand some spelling rules to use them properly. (see Possessives)


When we use parentheses in bibliographical notation, the periods go inside the parentheses.
We mostly save parentheses for mathematical and scientific notation in academia; when possible, it is better to use commas.
If you have a full sentence within the parentheses, the period goes within it.

(The treasure has never been found.)

If you have a partial sentence within the parentheses, the period goes outside it.

Bring your laptop to tomorrow’s class (where you can work on your individual project).

(…) Ellipses are to show where a citation is missing some words or where there is a continued thought.

Use the acronym MINTS to remember that we capitalize
M – The names of months and days of the week, but not seasons.
I – We capitalize the subject pronoun “I.
N – Names of people, places, and all proper nouns.
T – Titles of books, films, and people should have all major words capitalized.
S – Sentence Starters.
We capitalize the first word in a sentence, especially in an email after the initial salutation.
The first word in the closing of a letter or email should also be capitalized. (see email writing)
The first word in a direct quotation should be capitalized.