Never, ever use "you" or "your" in academic writing.
The rules about forming possessives probably cause the most apostrophe confusion. They vary a little bit, depending on what type of noun you are making into a possessive. Here are the rules of thumb:
For most singular nouns, add apostrophe+s:
Use whichever style matches the style guide you use for your writing. If you don’t have a style guide, it’s OK to just pick one of the methods, as long as you don’t switch back and forth within the same document.
Apostrophes can be tricky. Sometimes they form possessives. Sometimes they form contractions. Can they ever make something plural?
Apostrophe Use: Contractions and Omissions
A contraction is a shortened form of a word (or group of words) that omits certain letters or sounds. In a contraction, an apostrophe represents missing letters. The most common contractions are made up of verbs, auxiliaries, or modals attached to other words: He would=He’d. I have=I’ve. They are=They’re. You cannot=You can’t.
Some writers use less common contractions when they want to represent a particular style of speech. They might write somethin’ to represent the way people often don’t pronounce the final g of “something” in speech. Occasionally, you might see e’er (instead of ever) in poetry. And, of course, in the American South, you will probably encounter y’all (you all). Decade names are often contracted as well: the ’60s (the 1960s).
Contractions are usually considered to be relatively casual. If you’re writing something very formal, you may want to avoid using them except in cases like o’clock, where the full phrase (of the clock) truly is rare.
An ellipsis (plural: ellipses) looks like three periods in a row. There are two main uses for ellipses. One is to show that part of a quote has been omitted.
In the sentence above, the words “in the mind” have been omitted from the quote. Occasionally, you might need to leave out part of a quote because it’s irrelevant or makes the quote hard to understand in the context of the sentence. The ellipsis shows that you have left something out.
You can also use an ellipsis for literary effect, to represent a dramatic pause or a thought that trails off. Sometimes, this type of ellipsis is also referred to as “suspension points.”
This usage is fine in fiction, but you should avoid it in formal writing.
Periods and Parentheses
When a complete, independent sentence is entirely enclosed by parentheses, the period goes inside the closing parenthesis.
But, if the parenthetical material is nested inside another sentence, the period should go on the outside.
Periods and Quotation Marks
When writers get confused about periods, it’s usually because they aren’t sure where to put them in relation to other nearby punctuation. In American English, the period goes inside the closing quotation mark at the end of a sentence.
The period, called a full stop in British English, is one of the first punctuation marks we learn about when we begin reading and writing. Compared to commas or semicolons, the rules for using periods are blessedly simple.
What Does a Period Do?
The most common use of the period is, of course, to end a declarative sentence. Interrogative sentences (questions) end with a question mark.
I like dogs. My dog is named Charlie. Charlie is the coolest dog who has ever lived; that’s a fact and not just my opinion.
What Is a Semicolon?
Semicolons (;) are as basic as a period stacked on top of a comma. Does that mean you can use it like either one? Don’t get your hopes up. But don’t let this punctuation mark get you down, either. After all, that sly emoticon winky eye can’t be all bad. ?
How to Use a Semicolon Correctly
The most common use of the semicolon is to join two independent clauses without using a conjunction like and.
Do you use a capital letter after a semicolon? The general answer is no. A semicolon should be followed by a capital letter only if the word is a proper noun or an acronym.
Remember, semicolons are not interchangeable with commas or periods. Instead, they’re somewhere in between: stronger than a comma but not quite as divisive as a period. Sounds pretty cunning to us.
Here are the rules for using semicolons correctly; we hope you’re taking notes.
1. Semicolons Connect Related Independent Clauses
You can use a semicolon to join two closely related independent clauses. Let’s put that another way. The group of words that comes before the semicolon should form a complete sentence, the group of words that comes after the semicolon should form a complete sentence, and the two sentences should share a close, logical connection:
2. Delete the Conjunction When You Use a Semicolon
A semicolon isn’t the only thing that can link two independent clauses. Conjunctions (that’s your ands, buts, and ors) can do that too. But you shouldn’t use a semicolon and a conjunction. That means when you use a semicolon, you use it instead of the ands, buts, and ors; you don’t need both. Here’s a hint: if you used a comma and an “and” to link two related ideas, think of the period (you know, the top part of the semicolon) as a replacement “and.”
You need a comma plus something to avoid a comma splice. That something can either be the right conjunction or the period that turns a comma into a semicolon. If semicolons can link independent clauses that would otherwise have a period or a conjunction between them, that means they can demonstrate contrast, too. This is part of the same rule, but the conjunction in question is “but” instead of “and.” In other words:
To summarize, a semicolon links up two related ideas by narrowing the gap between the ideas of two separate sentences or by replacing a conjunction between two related ideas. That goes for showing contrast, too: just because two ideas are opposed or contradictory, that doesn’t mean they aren’t related closely enough to earn themselves a semicolon.
3. Use Semicolons in a Serial List
You can use semicolons to divide the items of a list if the items are long or contain internal punctuation. In these cases, the semicolon helps readers keep track of the divisions between the items.
Let’s recap: so far we’ve got semicolons for linking two independent clauses; replacing a conjunction (whether showing similarity, like “and,” or opposition, like “but”); and long, comma-loving lists. Yup, that was one now.
4. Use Semicolons With Conjunctive Adverbs
When you have a conjunctive adverb linking two independent clauses, you should use a semicolon. Some common conjunctive adverbs include moreover, nevertheless, however, otherwise, therefore, then, finally, likewise, and consequently.
These words sometimes show up in other parts of a sentence; therefore, the semicolon rule only applies if it helps the conjunctive adverb join two independent clauses. (See what we did there?) This conjunctive adverb rule is similar to the conjunction rule. In both cases, check that the two ideas are independent clauses that could stand on their own as sentences. If so, then you’re grammatically good to go as far as the semicolon is concerned.
5. Use a Semicolon to Give a Wily Wink
Emoticons will never replace a solid knowledge of the English language. But they can sure spice it up from time to time. ? The semicolon is a good punctuation mark to have in your back pocket. Or on top of your parenthetical smile. So whether you’re using it to whip up a good complex sentence or to give someone a wink, now you know how to do it right.
(Don't worry, you don't have to do the assignment at the end.)