Links and learning materials covering English punctuation rules

As a tutor I have generally relied on outside resources covering punctuation rather than developing my own. A wealth of information about rules of English punctuation, as well as exercises, can be found on the websites listed on the main Grammar page on this site. My personal favorite source is Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), so for the time being I have listed a number of specific links here. As I have time to develop this page, I may add other resources.

OWL Punctuation Resources

General rules of punctuation: OWL’s Brief Overview of Punctuation page is a fairly basic but solid introduction to general rules of punctuation. OWL also has a Basic Punctuation Exercise and a Quotation Marks Exercise so you can practice applying the rules explained on this page.

Commas: Correct use of commas presents some difficulty for a lot of people. OWL’s comma-related pages are very helpful:

Commas: Quick Rules
Commas: Extended Rules

For a more extended treatment of specific comma-related issues, refer to these pages on OWL:

Commas After Introductions
Commas vs. Semicolons
Commas with Nonessential Elements

OWL also features a comma slide presentation called “Conquering the Comma“; the PowerPoint file can be downloaded directly here.

OWL also has extensive exercises on comma use.

Apostrophes: Difficulty with apostrophes (in particular, using apostrophes in plural nouns) is quite common, but most people can learn to correct these common mistakes fairly easily when the rules are spelled out for them. See OWL’s The Apostrophe handout for a clear explanation of contemporary rules about apostrophe use. (I say “contemporary” because some of today’s standards are different from traditional standards.) There is also an accompanying apostrophe exercise.

My extensive and carefully researched List of Common Errors in English Usage handout has an explanation of the differences between “its”/”whose” and “it’s”/”who’s.”

Hyphens: See OWL’s Hyphen Use page.