When writing, consistency of punctuation is very important.
So, you never want to alternate punctuation. So, say you started a phrase with a comma, you wouldn’t want to end it with a dash.
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Now it’s also important to use these types of punctuation in pairs, such as dashes, parentheses, or commas.
You always want to use those in pairs, because if a section of text has an opening, dash, parenthesis, or comma at the beginning of a phrase, then there should be a matching closing dash, parenthesis, or comma at the end of the phrase.
So, we’re going to take a look at some examples of the use of dashes, commas, and parentheses. So, you always want to use parentheses in pairs. So, here we see this sentence:
“After removing the fence (wear gloves), feed the pigs.”
So, notice we have parenthesis here and here. We wouldn’t just use one by itself, or we wouldn’t use parenthesis here and a dash or a comma over here. The reason we have a comma here has nothing to do with the parenthesis. It’s just because we need to put a comma after this phrase “After removing the fence“. So, we always use parenthesis in pairs.
Now, we also always use dashes in pairs.
Now, say we had two words like:
Here, we would hyphenate “long-term“, we put a hyphen right there. So, a hyphen is different than a dash, but to us, they often look the same, and we kind of get them confused. So, right, with the hyphen, you’re just going to use it by itself there, but with a dash, you’re always using it in pairs. But, I just wanted to point that out so I didn’t confuse you.
So, here, we have the sentence: “The two guys wearing hats – Bryan and Andrew – play football.” So, we have a dash here, setting off “Bryan and Andrew“, and then we have another dash to end it.
And then, with the use of commas, sometimes you need to use them in pairs. As a general rule, we do use them in pairs.
“After the game, we went to eat.”
Notice we only have one comma, but let’s go ahead and look at this sentence.
“My friend, the guy in the green shirt, plays baseball.”
So, right here, we see a comma, and we see another comma because it’s setting off this phrase right here. So, we need two commas, because commas often set off certain phrases that don’t have to be there, because we could just say “My friend plays baseball“. But, we use two commas here. Now, the reason we only use one is that technically, the other comma would go before “After“, because we could just say “we went to eat“, but we’re adding in “after the game“. But it would be still, need to put a comma at the beginning of a sentence. It works the same way if this sentence was reversed, and we said: “We went to eat, after the game.”
We put a comma before “after“, we just put a period after “game” instead of another comma.
So, usually, you’re going to use it in pairs, but there are exceptions. Many times, you use commas for items in a series, like:
“I enjoy playing basketball, baseball, football, and soccer.”
I put a comma after all of those different sports. Well, in that case, I’d only end up with three commas instead of four. It’s an odd number, so they’re not always going to be used in pairs when you use them for items in a series.
So, again, make sure you don’t alternate punctuation, and make sure that if you’re using dashes, parentheses, or commas, that you have the punctuation to open up the phrase, and you have the punctuation there to also close the phrase.