Ok, I did not write this, I merely borrowed from several websites I found. I figured there were people out there like me who hadn't had English in a few years, and perhaps lost some of the grammar/punctuation rules that had been instilled. Or a lot, in my case, LOL!!

So, here are some potentially helpful examples for you.

Punctuating Quotations.

Oh, this is a tricky one. Bear with me as I try to explain.

Don't capitalize pronouns (or verbs!) that follow quoted dialogue, unless the quote ends a sentence. It's the punctuation at the end of the quote that tends to confuse people. (Of course, the only pronoun that's always capitalized is "I".)


"There's a problem with the warp core," she said. (Comma, no trouble.)

"Are you sure?" asked Captain Janeway. (The question mark doesn't mean the sentence ended! It ends with the period after Janeway. Don't capitalize the verb!)

"There's a problem with the warp core?" she asked. (Same as above--the sentence ends with the period, not the question mark. Don't capitalize the pronoun!)

"There's a problem with the warp core!" she exclaimed. (Same as above--the exclamation point does not end the sentence.)


(Ha--knew there was a catch, didn't you?)
If you let a quote stand alone, with a sentence after it that begins with a pronoun, that's a different story.

B'Elanna led the captain to the control panel. "There's a problem with the warp core." She indicated the suspect readings. "They've been fluctuating for hours," she continued.

See how that works?

And watch out for proper nouns, especially ranks and titles!

"What caused this problem?" Commander Chakotay asked.

Articles follow the pronoun rule:

"Can you help?" the lieutenant inquired.

Found at: http://members.aol.com/kipler/grammar.html

Punctuation is not optional!

Sentences begin with a capital letter and end with some form of punctuation.
That rule is not open to interpretation!
Do you understand?


The apostrophe is not used for making the plural. It's used for showing ownership and for making contractions.

The crickets are on the chairs. The agent's crickets are on the chairs. Sometimes, if both Mulder and Scully own them, they are the agents' crickets.


The official "ellipsis" (...) consists of three dots in a row. At the end of a sentence, however, a period added to the three dots may make four dots total. Generally, though, three dots is the most you'll need, because of the way an ellipsis is used.

Scully sat back and counted the number of times she'd been abducted. There was Duane Barry, and Donnie Pfaster, and that Unruhe guy, and...


You really shouldn't use too many exclamation marks! That habit is the punctuational equivalent of crying wolf ! You can't be excited all the time!


"Don't forget," Scully said, "that when you're writing dialogue, you have to follow very clear rules of punctuation."

"Yes," said Mulder, nodding appreciatively at his partner, who was not only beautiful (with her ice-blue eyes and auburn locks), but also aware of the importance of making each and every summary report a grammatical fortress, able to withstand the scrutinizing eyes of Section Chief Cassidy. "And don't you also have to start a new paragraph every time you introduce a new speaker?"

"Of course. Otherwise it gets too confusing to the reader."


There was only Dana. She was his life.
may become
There was only Dana; she was his life.
There was only Dana, and she was his life.
but is never
There was only Dana, she was his life.

A semicolon is used when you want to connect two short, related, complete sentences into one longer sentence. A comma may be used also - but it does not replace a semicolon, and usually requires the insertion of a conjunction such as "and" or "but".


If you want to use parentheses (and who doesn't?), punctuate the phrase inside the parentheses as if it stood alone - but leave off end punctuation except for question marks and exclamation points. Punctuate the surrounding sentence as it would be punctuated without the parenthetical phrase.

Mulder stood by the cringing, finger-flicking form of Donnie Pfaster (the bastard!), waiting for the local police to complete the arrest. He thought of Scully's open vulnerability (the tears, the shaking) and wished that he could get her out of here.


*%9%*So what are you saying, Mulder?*%9%* Scully questioned. *%9%*That these women in the midwest were killed by an Internet sociopath? That someone was so angered by computer gibberish that she drained the blood from anyone who dared to use SmartQuotes (tm)?*%9%*


Spell-Checkers Aren't Proofreaders

The following examples are from actual fanfic.
(No names. Forgive me for collecting these. It's a hobby.)

The kiss, at first, is gentile, but suddenly we reach the point in which neither of us can hold back our emotions.

Lying on his couch with a cold sweat, Mulder was in no shape to get the phone. He let it ring until it stopped, and then threw up into a bowel beside his couch.


She is careful about her emotions, dolling them out in teaspoons rather than bowels.

I... posted my very first vinigrette,

Without a word, the yogurt splattered on the tabletop.

(OK, so that one isn't a spelling error, but it's fun.)


Grammar and spelling count.

In formal writing, they are statements of effort. They express how much a writer cares about her work. Posting a sloppy story is like going to a job interview in sweatpants and a dirty t-shirt. If the writer doesn't care enough to put in a few hours of editing time, what is there to sell the reader on the story?


Grammar rules exist to serve the purpose of clarity. Every writer should know the rules if she expects to be understood. But a good writer also knows how to ignore the rules when it serves her purpose. That's called "style". When done effectively, active rule-violation gives an author her "voice". It produces an emotional reaction in the reader. It transcends grammar-snarking.


This is not an excuse for the lazy. A writer can't carelessly misuse words and then expect her readers to believe that the misuse was part of her stylistic intent. It is always clear whether an author is pushing the envelope of creativity or just not bothering to check for mistakes.

And be warned...

A writer who chooses to violate standard rules of grammar and spelling for dramatic effect (by ignoring capitalization, say, or substituting numbers 4 words) risks jarring her audience out of the narrative. Such stylistic devices can help a purposeful, skilled author establish tone and voice. They can also seem precious and self-important in the hands of a less-skilled author (who will often seem to be editorializing, in some cryptic way, by refusing to follow the rules). If there is no clear authorial purpose for stylistic mutations - if the mutations do not somehow further the plot or theme of a story - then they can safely be removed, and should be.