A Basic Spelling &
Punctuation Review
An English/Reading MiniWorkshop to Help Student
Support Services (SSS)
Participants Improve their
English language skills
Some Basic Usage Problem Areas
• Spelling Errors
Word division
• Punctuation Errors
Why not just
tell the whole
world that I
have problems?
Why is it important to pay
attention to spelling or
punctuation usage?
• To write clear Standard American English
(SAE) messages.
• To meet proofreading expectations of
and communication demands on college
• To meet your personal writing standards
or your need to write well in your
academic, business and personal lives.
• To teach you to assess and evaluate your
own writing strengths or deficits.
Supplemental Study Material
and Optional
Practice Exercise 1
• Carefully read the supplemental study
materials (“Proofreading Tips”), if they
are supplied to you. If you do not have the
supplements, don’t worry. Continue to next
• See if you can locate at least four errors on
the page.
Back to Basic Grammar
First, Spelling.
Spelling Rules
Put i before e
Except after c
Or when it sounds like a
As in neighbor or neigh.
Line 1:mischief (i before e)
Line 2:receiver (except after c)
Line 3:weight (as in neigh)
Some i before e Exceptions:
Source: http://www.mc3.edu/aa/lal/workshops/wksp_spelling/spellingrules.html
Spelling Rules (Cont.)
If the suffix or verb ending begins with a vowel, drop the final e.
amuse + ing = amusing
creative + ity = creativity
If the suffix or verb ending begins
with a consonant, keep the final e.
measure + ment = measurement
definite + ly = definitely
Source: http://www.mc3.edu/aa/lal/workshops/wksp_spelling/spellingrules.html
Spelling Rules (Cont.)
If the word has a consonant before the y, change the y to i.
Example: mercy + less = merciless
If the word has a vowel before the y, keep the y.
Example: deploy + ed = deployed
Words that end in ss, sh, ch or x add -es.
Example: stitch = stitches; box=boxes
For words that have a consonant before a final y, change the
y to i before adding -es.
Example: summary = summaries
Source: http://www.mc3.edu/aa/lal/workshops/wksp_spelling/spellingrules.html
Spelling Rules (Cont.)
Short Vowels
1. To spell a short vowel sound, only one letter is needed:
Examples: combat
Long Vowels
2. To spell a long sound you usually must add a second vowel, or you may
use the consonants y or w in place of the vowel.
Examples: reach
loose soup
Now, pick out the short and long vowel sounds in this word:
Spelling Rules (Cont.)
“There are two kinds of suffixes, those that begin with a vowel
and those that begin with a consonant. [Usually] spelling
problems . . . occur with vowels.”
Vowel Suffixes
Consonant Suffixes
- - - age
- - -ist
- - - ness
- - - cess
- - - ant
- - - ish
- - -less
- - -ment
- - -ance
- - -ing
- - -ly
- - -ty
- - - al
- - -ar
- - -ful
- - -ry
- - -ism
- - -o
- - -hood
- - -ward
- - -able
- - -on
- - -wise
- - -an
- - -ous
- - -or
- - -es
- - -ual
- - -ed
- - -unt
- - -er
- - -um
- - -est
- - -us
- - -y
- - -ive
Source: http://www.dyslexia.org/spelling_rules.shtml
Spelling Rules (Cont.)
Homonyms & Homophones
HOMONYMS – words that sound similar, but have different meanings and spellings
Example: affect-effect; they're-their-there; fell-fail
Hint: Often, you can use affect as a verb.
Verb: His rowdy behavior negatively affects (influences) many people.
Hint: The word effect is used as a noun or verb.
Noun: Researchers are studying the effects of the war on children.
Verb: Only the president can effect (bring about or cause) positive changes.
HOMOPHONE – a word (type of homonym) that is pronounced the same as another
word. The words may be spelled differently or the same.
foul (odor) / fowl (bird) or rose (flower) / rose (past tense of “rise”)
Spelling Rules (Cont.)
CONTRACTION -- A word or phrase
that has been shortened by leaving
out some of the letters is called a
An apostrophe is used to show that
the letters have been omitted (won’t
- will not), (o’clock - of the clock).
Source: http://www.splashesfromtheriver.com/spelling/spelling_rules.htm
List of Homonyms / Practice
 Review the list.
 When you use the wrong homonym, you change the entire meaning of
a sentence.
Practice Examples (Which ones are correct and why?):
(1)It’s time that people stop fighting.
Its time that people stop fighting.
(2)The cat hopped because it’s paw hurt.
The cat hopped because its paw hurt.
(3)Their heads appeared pointed and large.
There heads appeared pointed and large.
They’re heads appeared pointed and large.
Spelling Rules – Capitalization
Unless rules of capitalization are followed, a word can contain all of the
correct alphabets in the correct order, yet still be wrongly spelled.
The names of holidays are capitalized (Christmas, Valentine’s Day).
The names of the months of the year and the days of the week are capitalized
(January, Monday).
The names of countries and continents are capitalized (United States, Antarctica).
When you write the name of a particular avenue or street, capitalize the words
avenue and street (Fifth Avenue, Oak Street).
The abbreviations Mr., Mrs. and Ms. are always capitalized and followed by a period
(Mr. Smith, Mrs. Woods, Ms. Day).
The names of deities are capitalized (God, Allah, Buddha, Saviour).
The word republican is capitalized when it refers to the Republican party (The
Republicans won the election.).
When words like senator and general are used as titles with a person’s name, they
are capitalized (General Powell)
Capitalize the words capitol, senate, building, supreme and court when referring to
the Capitol Building, the Senate, the Supreme Court of Canada.
Source: http://www.splashesfromtheriver.com/spelling/spelling_rules.htm
Spelling Rules (cont.)
Compound Words are made by writing two small words
together to make one larger word. (news+ paper =
newspaper; some + body= somebody)
A root word is the root, or beginning word, from which
another word is made. Play is the root word of plays,
played and playing. Knowledge of roots can cue you
into correctly spelling some words.
(Remember the list of vocabulary roots I handed at the
Writing Descriptively workshop.)
Derived words are words that come from other words.
Suitable is derived from suit; advertisement from
advertise. Sometimes the spelling of the root word is
slightly changed in the derived word.
Source: http://www.splashesfromtheriver.com/spelling/spelling_rules.htm
General Spelling Rules
Spell small numbers out in sentences.
Small numbers, such as whole numbers
smaller than ten, should be spelled out.
Examples and Exceptions:
1.Ten students passed the exam.
2.Only 1000 students passed the exam.
3.One thousand students took the exam. (Spell out any
number if it starts a sentence.)
4.Of the 1000 students that took the exam, only 25
passed it with at least a grade of D and only 9 students
scored a grade of C or better on it. (Be as consistent as
Slides info source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
Graphics: Microsoft
End of Spelling section
This way to Punctuation
A Presentation to Help
Student Support Services
(SSS) Participants Learn
Proper Punctuation
Placement and Avoid
Punctuation Pitfalls
Relevance & Purposes
Relevance: * “Some people write well, yet allow
themselves to be disabled by a fear of punctuation
and grammar. They know how to pre-write,
organize, and revise, but proofreading for
punctuation and grammar causes them difficulties.
There’s no need to fear these conventions of
standard written English. In fact, these
conventions can help you become a more effective
communicator.” – Gary A. Olson
Purpose: This PowerPoint Presentation is to
provide you with a review of proper punctuation
*Quote retrieved at: http://lilt.ilstu.edu/golson/punctuation/intro.html
Commonly-applied Punctuation Marks
•Period (.)
•Question Mark (?)
•Exclamation Point (!)
• Apostrophe ( ’ )
•Comma (,)
• Parentheses ( )
• Brackets [ ]
• Semicolon (;)
• Colon :
•Hyphen • Dash -• Quotation Marks “”
Note: Periods,
Question Marks,
and Exclamation
Points are END
Slides info source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
Graphics: Microsoft
What is an end mark
An end mark is punctuation that
comes at the end of a sentence to let
you know when the sentence ends.
Punctuation supports reading by
helping readers know when the writer
has fully expressed an idea or point.
Slides info source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
Graphics: Microsoft
The period is the most famous end mark. It comes
at the end of statements and commands.
It is raining today.
Do not interrupt while I am talking.
A question mark means something is being asked.
Are you going to lunch?
An exclamation mark shows excitement or strong
That is a huge dog!
Source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
The period is also used as more than just an end mark.
It is used in abbreviations, too:
 1290 College Rd
. .
Ms. White
Dr. Atchley
E B White
Slides info source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
An end mark comes at the END of a
sentence, and lets you know when to . . .
Now, there are several other members of the punctuation family.
Please continue to next slide . . .
Slides info source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
Graphics: Microsoft
The Colon
Not This one . . .
The colon is made with two periods.
It is used for time, and it comes before a list.
Example: 11:35pm
I will need the following items from the store:
bananas, grapes, watermelon, and lemons.
The Semi-colon
The semi-colon is made with a period over a comma. It is
a punctuation mark (;) used to separate parts of a sentence or list and
indicating a pause longer than a comma, but shorter than a period. In a
sentence, a transition word may follow the semi-colon.
Example: Latte is strong; however, he is no match
for the heroic energy of the sun.
A dash is a punctuation mark that writers use to
denote a sudden break or shift in thought.
(One dash = Two hyphens)
I can -- no,
I must -- I
must dash
toward the
finish line.
Use the dash:
(1) to indicate a break or shift in thought: For example:
Example: Do we -- can we--dare we ask for more money?
(2) to introduce a word or group of words which you wish to
emphasize. Example: What he needed most he never
3) to set off strongly distinguished parenthetical material:
Example: I think--no, I am positive -- you should go.
4) to indicate omission of letters and words: For Example:
Senator S-- was from my hometown.
Mark Of Separation Used Between Parts Of A Word.
1) To Separate (Join) The Parts Of Compound Words: Examples: fast-moving;
sister-in-law; half-asleep; X-ray; know-it-all; forty-seven; three-fourths
2) To Indicate The Division Of A Word Broken At The End Of A Line:
Examples: know-ledge, ste-no-gra-pher
Never divide a monosyllable: Example: strength, laughed
Do not divide a syllable with a silent vowel: Example: climbed, yelled
Do not divide a word with only 4 letters: Example: also, only, open
Divide two consonants standing between vowels: Example: struc-ture, alternative, exis-ten-tialism
Do not divide sums of money.
Do not divide initials in a name or in proper names.
Do not divide units of time.
To enclose every direct quotation and each part of an interrupted quotation:
Example: “What will my starting salary be?” I asked the manager. “Well,”
he replied, “I’m not sure.”
2) in a dialogue. Use a separate paragraph for each change of speaker. Example:
“Dad,” cried Neil.
“There, there, everything will be just fine,” his dad said.
3) to enclose words with a widely different level of usage: Example: The person
who has “had it” so far is his mother.
4) to enclose chapter headings and the titles of articles:
Example: Grant wood’s famed painting, “American Gothic,” was recently
reproduced in American Gothic Journal.
USE SINGLE QUOTATION MARKS (‘) to enclose a quotation within a quotation.
Example: The coach said, ”when you say, ‘I’ll be there on time,’ I expect
you to mean what you say.”
Slides info source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
. . . looks like a single quotation mark, but is used for a different purpose.
To form a possessive. EX: Joe’s
mother’s brother
To indicate a contraction. EX: It’s,
which translates to It is.
To indicate omission of a letter from
words or a figure from numerals. EX:
Yes, ma’am.
To indicate the plurals of letters,
numerals, symbols, abbreviations.
EX: Only A’s, B’s and C’s are considered
passing grades at the Art institute.
Slides info source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
Graphics: Microsoft
1) And s to form the possessive case of a noun not ending in s:
Ex: Children’s; town’s
2) To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending in s:
Ex: Boys’ and ladies’ classrooms
3) Alone or with s to form the possessive of nouns ending is s:
Ex: Robert Burns’ or Burns’s (rule: words of one syllable)
4) and s in the last element of compound nouns:
Ex: My son-in-law’s boat; King Henry IV’s funeral; somebody
else’s ticket
5) To show that letters of figures have been omitted:
Ex: Aren’t; shouldn’t; the civil war was fought 1861-’65.
6) And s to indicate the plurals of numerals, letters, etc. Ex: Uncrossed
t’s look like 1’s. He uses too many and’s and but’s in speaking.
Slides info source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ppt
Graphics: Microsoft
The Comma
The comma is used to separate a list.
Example: My favorite animals are giraffes, dogs, cats, and birds.
It is also used between the date and the year.
Example: Today is March 6, 2007, and I plan to enjoy today.
A comma can also tell you where to pause in a sentence.
Example: All is well, but not necessarily forgotten.
Parenthesis -- One of a pair of shallow, curved signs
(, ) used to enclose an additional inserted word or
comment and distinguish it from the sentence in
which it is found. Parentheses (plural) – [Definition from
Microsoft version of Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)]
Parentheses are round brackets: ( )
Riva (Her name means “one who captivates or
possesses an “ensnaring beauty.”) wandered off into
the forest and was lost for three days and two
Bracket – (1) one of a pair of symbols, often [ ], used in
keying or printing to indicate the insertion of special
commentary, such as that made by an editor; (2) an
alternative to parentheses. Brackets (plural)
[Definition from Microsoft version of Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)]
Riva [Her name means “one who captivates or
possesses an “ensnaring beauty.”] wandered off into
the forest and was lost for three days and two
Different Kinds of
box brackets or square brackets: [ ]
curly brackets or braces: { }
angle brackets or chevrons: < >
parentheses or round brackets: ( )
Source: Retrieved at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brackets
Practice Exercise 3
Please complete punctuation
practice handout, if available.
Please make use of any supplemental study materials
provided to you.
Source information provided on individual slides.
Please complete an evaluation form before you leave.
SSS hopes this presentation has given you some useful
 Have a great learning experience here at Troy
Contact Information
Troy University
Troy, Alabama 36082
Student Support Services
109 Shackelford Hall Annex; Troy University; Troy, AL 36082
Phone: 334-670-5985
Rebecca C. Money, English/Reading Specialist
109 Shackelford Hall Annex; Troy University; Troy, AL 36082
Phone: 334-670-5985; [email protected] / PPT Developed 2007/08-02

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