The trouble with punctuation
.. is that I can never work out how it works. Below are a few questions I constantly ask myself and am never able to attain the answer to. My writing is one big contradiction because of the issues of comprehension (or lack of) that I have about the way punctuation really works.
1) In speech
Does the question mark remove the need for the comma?
“How many time do I have to tell you?” she shouted.
Or is a comma necessary after the speech?:
“How many times do I have to tell you?”, she shouted.
The comma, inside or outside of the speech marks?
“I heard you the first time,” he replied.
“I heard you the first time”, he replied.
And what about the full stop?
“Fine, but don’t make me tell you again.”
“Fine, but don’t make me tell you again”.
And how do you know if a comma or full stop is necessary at all?
“Whatever you say” he droned.
2) In lists
Which to use – the semi-colon or the full colon?
I saw him standing before me: his eyes burned, his lips trembled.
I saw him standing before me; his eyes burned, his lips trembled.
Do you need the comma, or do you list with a semi-colon all the way?
I saw him standing before me; his eyes burned; his lips trembled.
3) In plurals
When do we distinguish between ” Jess’ ” shoes and ” Jess’s ” shoes?
Oh punctuation, you do baffle me.