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My last article on common punctuation errors was so popular (click here if you missed it) that I decided to make this topic into a series.

Of course, if you need some professional help making your writing flow smoothly and correctly, give me a call. I’m not just a writer, I’m also an editor…and I’m here for you!


Use Apostrophes to Indicate Possession
– Use an apostrophe when a word is possessive. When the word ends in an s (such as a plural), put the apostrophe after the s.

  • This is the Scout’s campsite. [One Scout has this campsite.]
  • This is the Scouts’ campsite.[More than one Scout has this campsite.]
  • This is Russ’ campsite.[Russ has this campsite, and his name ends in the letter s.]

Use Apostrophes to Make Contractions – When making a contraction, use an apostrophe to replace the letters that are being removed.

  • Wrong: Using “would’nt” for “would not,” as no letters were removed between the d and the n.
  • Right: Using “wouldn’t” for “would not,” as the letter removed was between the n and the t.

Use Commas after Introductions – Introductory clauses, phrases, and words provide background information or “set the stage” for the main part of the sentence. In most cases a comma should be placed after these types of introductions.

  • If she wants to get straight A’s, Becky must study every day.
  • A popular athlete, Tom was the top choice for Prom King.
  • Meanwhile, the basement filled with water.

Avoid Comma Splices – When two independent clauses (i.e. two sets of words that can each stand on their own as a separate sentence) are separated only by a comma, it’s called a comma splice. Comma splices are always incorrect. Independent clauses should be made into separate sentences, joined by a semicolon or joined by a comma plus an appropriate conjunction.

  • Wrong: It was a five-hour drive to Grandma’s house, Jenna got very bored.
  • Right: It was a five-hour drive to Grandma’s house. Jenna got very bored.
  • Right: It was a five-hour drive to Grandma’s house; Jenna got very bored.
  • Right: It was a five-hour drive to Grandma’s house, and Jenna got very bored.

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