Welcome to our HESI A2 Grammar Study Guide.

This is the perfect supplement to your course notes and will help you as you prepare for these exams but should never replace them. 

CNM Nursing applicants must take the HESI A2 admissions assessment exam to be considered for admission.

A score of 75% on all subtests and a score of 75% on the composite is required to pass this exam.  

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There are 8 Modules in HESI A2 Study Guide. Here you can navigate all the HESI A2 Study guide modules.

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Parts of speech

HESI A2 Grammar Study Guide

These include: 

  • Nouns
  • Pronouns
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives and adverbs
  • Prepositions
  • Conjunctions and interjections


A noun includes when you talk about ideas, places, people, or objects. 

Nouns are broken into two main groups – common nouns and proper nouns but they can also be considered abstract (or general) and concrete (or specific). 

Common nouns

These are never capitalized and include examples of objects/things, places, or people. 

  • People: man, women, manager, worker 
  • Places: home, university, library, school 
  • Objects/things: Bus, bird, dolphin

Proper nouns

These are always capitalized and include examples of specific people, objects/things, or places.

  • People: Barack Obama, LeBron James, Madonna
  • Places: Africa, London, California
  • Objects/things: Sydney Opera House, London Bridge, Smithsonian Museum

General nouns

These are the names of ideas or conditions. 

Within general nouns, you can have specific nouns we can perceive via our senses.

Examples of general nouns:

  • Idea: War, lies
  • Condition: Strength, beauty

Examples of specific nouns:

  • People: mother, friend, baby
  • Places: local park, city hall, town
  • Things: oil, orange, rainbow, hiccup

Collective nouns

It includes people, objects, and places that can act together.

They include terms such as general public, class, team, group, squadron, and fleet.


Words that can stand in for a noun are called pronouns. 

They can have different classifications including personal, relative, intensive, demonstrative, interrogative, reciprocal, and indefinite. 


Pronouns and nouns that are the subject of a sentence are nominative. 

Pronouns and nouns that are the object of a sentence are objective.

Pronouns and nouns that convey ownership are possessive. 

Here are some singular examples. 

  • First person: Nominative = I. Objective = me. Possessive = mine, my
  • Second person: Nominative = you. Objective = you. Possessive = you, yours
  • Third person: Nominative = it, she, he. Objective = it, her, him. Possessive = its, hers, her, his

Let’s look at some plural examples. 

  • First person: Nominative = we. Objective = us. Possessive = ours, our
  • Second person: Nominative = you. Objective = you. Possessive = you, yours
  • Third person: Nominative = they. Objective = them. Possessive = their, theirs

Here are some examples from the other categories.

  • Reciprocal: one another, each other
  • Indefinite: several, one, some, neither, either, each, everyone, any, all
  • Interrogative: whose, whom, who, which, what
  • Demonstrative: those, these, that, this
  • Relative: whose, whom, who, which


All sentences will need at least one verb and this explains an action, for example, the movement of a subject, or the movement being carried out on them. 

Look at the various categories of verbs that you need to know about.

Transitive and intransitive verbs

Here the action of the verb points to a receiver. 

An example would be an action like jumping, pointing to the receiver, like a dog. 

In the case of intransitive verbs, there is no receiver that is being pointed to by the action.

Here are two examples:

  • Transitive verb: She plays the guitar. The guitar was played by her
  • Intransitive verb: She plays. Sally writes well.

In some cases, verbs can be both transitive and intransitive.

Linking and action verbs

When you look at a sentence, if the verb shows what the subject is doing, it is an action verb.

When a verb links the sentence subject to the pronoun, they are called linking verbs. 

A linking verb shows a condition and is followed by a pronoun, noun, or adjective describing its subject.

Appear, be, feel, grow, become, taste, sound, smell, and look are all examples of linking verbs that you will often see. 

Here are some examples of both:

  • Action verb: He reads. She sings. I play guitar with him every night
  • Linking: I am Candice. I smell bacon. I feel full of energy

We also need to mention phrasal verbs. Here the word  will be followed by a word that looks like it’s a preposition, for example, drop off or look down. 

These aren’t prepositions but are actually part of the overall verb as they contribute toward its meaning. 


When dealing with transitive verbs it’s important to note that they occur in both active and passive voice. 

This you can determine by seeing if the subject carries out the action or receives the verb’s action. 

With active voice, the subject will carry out the action, while with passive voice, the action is received by the subject. 

Tenses of verbs

When we talk of the tense of a verb, it points to a time of action by highlighting various forms of the verb. 

Here are some examples:

  • Present tense: I walk
  • Past tense: I walked
  • Future tense: I will walk
  • Present perfect: I have walked
  • Past perfect: I had walked
  • Future perfect: I will have walked

When present tense is used, it is at the current time that the action happened.

When past tense is used, it is in the past that the action happened. 

When the future tense is used, the action will happen later.

When present perfect tense is used, the action begins in the past and carries on in the present.

When future tense is used, the action will happen at a later date.

When present perfect tense is used, the action continues into the present having started in the past.

When past perfect tense is used, the action that happens second will have occurred in the past and the first action happened before the second.

When the future perfect tense is used, both the past and the future are used by an action. 

Conjugating verbs

When a verb is conjugated, the form thereof is changed. 

Verbs have key parts, for example, first person singular, present tense (walk); first person singular, past tense (walked); and the past principle (walked). 

A helping verb is needed to make a verb tense for a past participle, for example, I have walked today and I am walking on this day.

Let’s look at some first, second, and third-person examples of present tense active voice that is singular and plural. 

  • First person: Singular – I walk. Plural – We walk
  • Second person: Singular – You walk. Plural – You walk
  • Third person: He, she, it walks. Plural – They walk


In the English language, there are three moods and they are the indicative, the imperative, and the subjunctive. 

  • Indicative relates to questions, opinions, and facts
  • Fact: This is something you can accomplish
  • Opinion: I think you can accomplish this
  • Question: Do you think you can accomplish this?
  • Imperative relates to requests or orders
  • Order: You are going to accomplish this!
  • Opinion: Will you accomplish this for me?
  • Subjunctive relates statements that go against facts and wishes. 
  • Against facts: I would do this if I were you (this goes against fact because I can never be you, therefore I do not have the chance to do it)
  • Wish:  I wish I was able to do this 

Adverbs and Adjectives

A noun or pronoun is modified by an adjective.

A question is answered by using an adjective, for example, “How many?” or “ Which one”. 

While adjectives can be found after a linking verb on some occasions, for the most part, they will be before the word that they modify. 

Here are some examples:

  • Which one? The third dog is my favorite
  • What kind? The dog is a spaniel
  • How many? I own four motorcycles


An article is an adjective that marks a noun and there are three types:

  • Definite: Like “the”. This is a limited or fixed amount article
  • Indefinite: Like “an” and “a”. This is a no limit or fixed amount

Examples include:

  • Definite: I found the ring that belongs to me
  • Indefinite; Does anyone have a cantaloupe to share?

Comparisons with adjectives 

Adjectives can be relative or absolute. 

Those considered relative look at different things and show the comparison between them. 

While absolute adjectives also do this, they use a different way to show the comparison. 

Relative adjectives use different degrees which are positive, comparative, and superlative.

These are different degrees of someone/something compared to someone/something else. 

  • Positive degree: This is an adjective’s normal form, e.g. This work is easy 
  • Comparative degree: Here one person/thing is compared to another, e.g. Your work is easier than my work
  • Superlative degree: Here more than two people or things are compared, e.g. This is the easiest work I’ve ever done


A verb, adjective, or even another advert can be modified using an adverb. 

The question When? Where? How? And Why? Are usually answered through the use of an adverb.

The words not and never are also considered adverbs.

When adverbs modify other adverbs or adjectives, the words modified by them are either strengthened or weakened. 

For example:

  • She walks slowly through the crowd of partygoers
  • The waves break smoothly on the shoreline

While many adverbs end in the letters “ly” that’s not true for all of them. 

Words that end in “ly” could also be adjectives, however, so if you are confused, a dictionary can be a great help. 


These show the relationship between an object in the sentence and another word and are found before a noun or pronoun.

Here are some common prepositions that you will come across: on, under, during, about, before, of, to, by, at, down, but there are many more.

An example of prepositions includes:

  • The knife is in the drawer
  • The moon rotates around the earth

Interjections and conjunctions


These are words that help to describe an exclamation, for example, Hey, Wow, and Ouch!

They can be used as a piece of a sentence but often appear alone. 

When used in the middle of a sentence, their aim is to change an attitude or thought. 


These will show the connection between words, phrases, or clauses that they have joined. 

There are different types of conjunctions, however.

  • Equal parts of a sentence are connected through coordinated conjunctions
  • The connection between pairs is shown via correlative conjunctions
  • Dependent/subordinate clauses are joined with independent clauses using subordinating conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions include words such as so, for, nor, yet, and, but, or with an example of a sentence using them being:  “The dog was small, but it was heavy”.

Correlative conjunctions include words such as neither, either, nor, but also and not only with an example of a sentence using them being: “He swam not only 20 laps, but also cycled 10 miles”.

Subordinating conjunctions include words such as because, until, when, while, since, although, and others with an example of a sentence using them being: “I am hungry because I did not eat my lunch”.

Sentence structure and agreement

HESI A2 Grammar Sentence structure and agreement

Subjects and predicates


When we look at a sentence, we will always find two aspects, a subject, and a verb.

What the sentence is all about describes the subject. 

While for the most part, who the subject is directly stated, on some occasions, the sentence will imply who/what the subject is.

All the modifiers thereof as well as the simple subject itself form part of a complete subject. 

Simply ask Who or What to find the complete subject and then complete the questions by inserting the verb.

The complete subject is then the answer. 

Remove all modifiers (including any prepositional phrases as well as adjectives) to find the simple subject within the complete subject.

Many problems can be solved by locating a sentence’s subject including single-verb agreements and sentence fragments. 

Let’s look at an example.

  • The big brown horse is the one that he wants for his birthday. Here the complete subject is the big brown horse
  • The old musician is coming for lunch. Here the complete subject is the old artist

The verb’s subject is understood when it comes to imperative sentences but you won’t find it in the sentences. 

For example, the sentence, “Go to the bakery for me” sees the subject, which is “You” not in the sentence, but implied. 


We know that all sentences have a subject, but they have a predicate too, and this is what is left once you identify what the subject is.

While the subject of the sentence provides insight as to what it’s all about, the predicate will provide us with further information, either by describing it or what actions it is carrying out. 

Subject-verb agreement

A verb’s number is the same as its subject, and therefore, singular verbs will see singular subjects, while plural verbs relate to plural subjects. 

Here are some examples of number agreement:

  • Mary calls home: This shows both a single subject and verb as Dan is one person, so calls is the singular verb
  • Pete and Philip calls home: This shows both a plural subject and verb, as Pete and Philip are the subjects, and call is therefore a plural verb

Here are some examples of person agreement:

  • I am running: First person
  • You are running: Second person
  • He is running: Third person


These give more information about a subject or verb and take the form of nouns, pronouns, or adjectives. 

Direct objects

When it takes or receives the action of a verb, a noun or pronoun is referred to as a direct object.

Ask who or what when you have found the verb in a sentence to determine what the direct object is. 

For example:

  • I took the bottle. Who or what was taken? The bottle was taken
  • Frank likes hotdogs. Who or what likes hotdogs? Frank does

Indirect objects

These show how someone or something is influenced by an action. 

They are indirect objects and can be a single word or a group of them.

You will always find direct objects in sentences that contain indirect objects. 

Ask for to/for whom or what of the verb when looking for an indirect object.

For example:

  • We taught the young dog how to roll over. What or to/from whom was taught? The young dog

Predicate nominatives and adjectives

We’ve already covered that verbs can be classified in two ways: linking verbs or action verbs. 

Remember that linking verbs link the subject to words in the predicate.

In turn, the subject is defined or described by them. 

Note that if they are adjectives, these words are termed predicative adjectives and if they are nouns or pronouns, they are predicate nominatives. 

Here is an example:

  • My mother is a teacher. Mother is the subject, while the word teacher is then the predicate nominative

Usage of pronouns

A noun that has been replaced by a pronoun is the antecedent. 

When they have the same singular or plural number and gender, then a pronoun and its antecedent agree. 

Here are some examples:

  • Singular agreement; Bob came to town, and he cooked for us. Here, the word Bob is replaced by he. 
  • Plural agreement: Bob and Mark came to town, and they played for us. Here the words Bob and Mark are replaced by they. 

Try each pronoun by itself in the place of the sentence’s compound to determine which is the correct one. 

There will be no added noun in the sentence if a noun immediately follows a pronoun.

Here’s and example of how this might appear in the exam:

  • We/us girls played tennis last year. The obvious choice is “we” because “us” simply doesn’t work as it cannot be the sentence’s subject, but instead would be used as an object

The antecedent should be clearly pointed out by a pronoun.

In this example, you can see that this is not the case:

  • Mary and Matilda went to the butcher, and she bought a lamb chop. Who bought it? Well, the sentence doesn’t tell us. 

Due to where they are placed in a sentence, some pronouns can change their form. 

One that comes in the subjective case will be the subject of the sentence. 

Those that are in the objective case will serve as objects in the sentence. 

Lastly, those that appear in the possessive case are used as possessives in a sentence.

Here are some examples:

  • Subjective case: She is coming to the concert. Here the subject of the sentence is the pronoun she.
  • Objective case: John drove him to the harbor. Here the object of the sentence is him
  • Possessive case: The sweets are mine. Ownership of the sweets is shown by the pronoun mine

In some cases, a subjective-case pronoun, the word who being an example, can be used as the subject. 

An objective-case pronoun, like the word whom can be used as an objective-case pronoun.

Both of these are seen often in questions or subordinate clauses. 

Here are some examples:

  • Subject: She knows she wants to go to the show. Here, the verb is wants and who is therefore its subject
  • Object: She knows the woman whom we want at the luncheon. Here, whom is the object of we want


A subject and predicate (verb) will be found in a group of words called a clause and they come in two types: dependent and independent. 

A complete thought is found in an independent clause while a dependent clause, also called a subordinate clause doesn’t have this. 

Here, you will find both a verb and a subject and on some occasions, objects or complements as well. 

However, unless it is joined to an independent clause, it cannot stand as a complete thought. 

It’s as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns that dependent clauses operate within sentences. 

Here are some examples:

  • I am exercising (independent clause) because I want to get fit (dependent clause)

Dependent clause types

Let’s look at different types of dependent clauses.

First, there is the adjective clause which modifies either a pronoun or a noun and is a dependent clause. 

A relative pronoun, like whom, which, that, whose or who will begin an adjective clause but it could also be when, where, and why, which are relative adverbs. 

So that there is a clear connection to the independent clause, an adjective clause will appear after the noun that it is explaining or renaming. 

For example:

  • This is the place where I started my first business

When we speak of adjective clauses, they can be both nonessential and essential clauses. 

The person or thing in a sentence is defined or explained by the essential clause while more information is provided by nonessential clauses but isn’t required to define them. 

While essential clauses are not set off with commas, nonessential clauses are.

Second, we have adverb clauses. 

These modify an adverb, adjective, or verb and are dependent clauses. 

They are placed before or after independent clauses in sentences with multiple dependent clauses. 

Words such as before, as, although, after, while, where, so, unless, when, if, since, and because introduce adverb clauses. 

Here’s an example:

  • When you walked to the bar, I called the waiter. 

Third, we have noun clauses.

These can be a complement, object, or subject and are dependent clauses and start with words such as why, who, which, how, that, what, and whether and they can also come with an adjective clause. 

A noun clause should always come after the verb of the independent clause unless it is being used as the sentence’s subject.  

Finally, we look at subordination. 

When you have two related ideas that are not equally important and you want to combine them, the independent clause should be the idea that’s more important.

That leaves the less important idea as the dependent or subordinate clause. 

We call this subordination. 

Here’s an example:

  • Separate ideas: The soccer team had a perfect season. The soccer team lost the gold medal game
  • Subordinated: Despite having a perfect season, the soccer team lost the gold medal game


Groups of words that function as a single part of speech are known as a phrase. 

They are usually adverbs, nouns, and adjectives. 

In a sentence, a phrase will add detail or explanation, but it’s not a complete thought.

In some cases within a sentence, it could rename something. 

Prepositional phrases

This is the most common type of phrase which while always ending with a noun, will always begin with a preposition. 

The noun itself is related to the preposition because it’s always the object thereof. 

Usually, it is as an adverb or adjective that the prepositional phrase will function. 

Here are some examples:

  • Hidden among the grassy field flowers, Barry found a four-leaf clover
  • The fishing rod is on the blanket

Verbal phrases

While verbal phrases are formed from a verb, they don’t function like them and they can be used as adverbs, adjectives, or nouns, depending on their form. 

Note, however, that a verb can never be replaced in a sentence by a verbal phrase.

Verbal phrases come in three different types: participles, gerunds, and infinitives. 

Let’s look first at participles which always operate as adjectives. You will notice that -ing is the ending for all present participles while -d, -ed, -n, or -t end past participles. 

Here’s an example:

  • Let’s take the verb walked. The present participle is walking and the past participle is walked


Participles, which always operate as an adjective, is a type of verbal phrase. 

Note that -ing is always the ending for a present participle, while -d, -ed, -n, or -t is how past participles will end. 

Here’s an example:

  • Verb: dance. The present participle is dancing while the past participle is danced


Gerunds always function as nouns and are a type of verbal phrase. In much the same way that present participles do, -ing is always the ending for gerunds.

It can also be used as the subject of a sentence because of the fact that it acts as a noun. 

That’s not all, because gerunds can be used as the predicate nominative, as well as the object of a verb or preposition too. 

Here are some examples:

  • Used as a subject: Teaching these musicians is the best job of my life
  • Used as an object of verbs: We like practicing our instruments in the basement


This can function as an adverb, adjective, or noun and is a type of verbal phrase. 

It comprises the word to along with the addition of the verb’s basic form. 

It will include the verbal as well as any modifiers or complements thereof.

Here’s an example:

  • As a noun: To join the music team is my goal in life
  • As an adjective: The boys have enough food to eat for the day
  • As an adverb: People go to the gym to exercise their muscles

Appositive and absolute phrases

An appositive explains or renames a noun or pronoun

They include noun phrases, gerund phrases, and infinitive phrases and they can be both essential and nonessential. 

When a noun is followed by a participle, we have an absolute phrase. 

These phrases are independent, bringing context to what is being described although they do not explain or modify a word. 

Sentence purpose

Sentences come in four different types: declarative, imperative, interrogative, and exclamatory.

  • Declarative sentences end with a period and will state a fact
  • Imperative sentences will generally end with a period and will tell a subject to do something
  • Interrogative sentences will end with a question mark because, as their names suggest, they ask a question
  • Exclamatory sentences end with an exclamation mark and convey strong emotion

Sentence structure

Based on the type and number of clauses found in them, sentences can be classified by structure. 

Sentence structure comes in four types: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. 

Simple sentences 

While this type of sentence will include one independent clause, you won’t find any dependent clauses although it can include compound elements.

Here’s an example:

  • Matt mowed the lawn. The single verb here is mowed, while the subject is Matt
  • Joe and Matt mowed the lawn. The single verb is mowed, while the compound subject is Joe and Matt
  • Matt mowed the lawn and cleared weeds. The compound verb is mowed and cleared weeds, while the single subject is Matt
  • Joe and Matt mowed the lawn and cleared weeds. Here both the verb and the subject are compound

Compound sentences

While there are no dependent clauses in a compound sentence, there are two or more independent clauses. 

Either a comma or semicolon will join the independent clauses together. 

Here’s an example:

  • I went to bed at dusk; the sun was just going down

Complex sentences 

With these sentences, you will have one independent clause. 

They will, however, have one (or more) dependent clauses as well.

Here’s an example:

  • Philip got married after he finished high school. 

Compound-complex sentences

In these sentences, you will find one dependent clause and two (or more) independent clauses. 

  • Matt is my friend, who went to Bermuda, and he brought back a bottle of rum

Sentence fragments

When we talk of sentence fragments, we are dealing with sentences that are not complete.

Remember, in order for a group of words to be considered as a sentence, there should at least be one independent clause.

If this is not the case, it is a sentence fragment. 

A run-on fragment sees independent clauses that are not joined correctly.

There would have to be two or more of them, however.

Depending on the type of fragment, there are various ways for fixing a sentence fragment.

For example, by removing a subordinate word from the beginning of the fragment (like if, because, or when), a fragment that is a dependent clause can be fixed.

An alternative is to incorporate a dependent clause into a neighboring sentence that is closely related. 

Should a missing verb or subject be causing a sentence fragment, adding it will solve the problem.

Dangling/misplaced modifiers

Dangling modifier

When there is no clear logical connection to the words in a sentence, a dependent clause or verbal phrase is known as a dangling modifier. 

Here’s an example:

  • Since childhood, my aunty has visited me for my birthday

Here, the modifier needs to be clarified, because what the sentence is saying is that their aunty has visited them for their birthday since their aunty’s childhood, which is not possible. 

  • Ever since I was a child, my aunty has visited me for my birthday. This is the correct way to construct the sentence

Misplaced modifier

Modifiers can be added to various places within a sentence’s structure due to their grammatical versatility. 

Sometimes, however, they can be misplaced and when this happens, the wrong word can be modified. 

For example:

  • He read a book to the children that was filled with pictures of trees

The children weren’t filled with pictures of trees as the sentence suggests, but the book is. 

Here’s the correct way to write this sentence:

  • He read the book that was filled with pictures of trees to the children

Sometimes modifiers can be ambiguous.

  • Peter saw a car nearly hit a man on his way to the bakery

So who was on their way to the bakery?

Was it the man or Peter?

You can see that this sentence is ambiguous.

Here’s the correct way to write it:

  • On his way to the bakery, Peter saw a car nearly hit a man


HESI A2 Grammar Punctuation

End punctuation


All sentences except exclamations and direct questions end with a period. 

In a declarative sentence, a statement is made, or information is given.

Here’s an example:

  • The boat left three hours ago

In an imperative sentence, an order or command is given

For example:

  • Bring me my guitar

With abbreviations, periods are often used and it’s important to note where they are placed.

For example:

  • 2 A.M.
  • Jersey Ave.
  • Dr. Martens

Question marks

When a direct question is asked in a sentence, it will end with punctuation in the form of a question mark. 

Polite requests, however, do not need to use a question mark and can end with a period. 

Exclamation marks

After a word or group of words in a sentence, these are used to convey feeling or special importance. 

Exclamation marks should always be saved for exclamatory interjections and should never be overused. 


In grammar, commas help readers understand sentence connections, but not all sentences need them.

It should always be put in the right place, should it be needed, however and there are rules that guide this. 

These rules include:

  • A comma should be placed before a coordinating conjunction that joins independent clauses. An example of this is: Pete picked three apples, and I picked two apples. 
  • After an adverbial clause or an introductory phrase, a comma should be used. An example of this is: After the match ended, we went to Mcdonald’s for a burger.
  • Items in a series will need a comma between them. An example of this is: I will bring the beer, the hotdogs, and the cool drink. 
  • When coordinate adjectives are not joined together by and a comma should be used. An example of this is: The kind, loyal dog followed me to the bus stop.
  • Interjections will need commas and so will yes and no responses. An example of this: Oh, I wasn’t aware of that (interjection). Yes, I will take the dinner plate away (Yes and no).
  • Nonessential appositives and modifiers should be separated using commas. Here’s an example of a comma used in a nonessential modifier: Peter Murphy, who is the lead singer of the band, went to the hospital. 
  • Nouns of direct address, interrogative tags, and contrast all need commas. Here’s an example of an interrogative tag: This is your bag, right?
  • Commas should be used with titles, dates, and geographical names.
  • Separate expressions should be separated with a comma when they come between a sentence or a quote.


Pieces of equal value are connected through the use of semicolons. 

They have some rules for their use which we are going to look at now.

  • Closely connected independent clauses that do not have a coordinating conjunction connecting them will use a semicolon
  • Independent clauses that have a transitional word linking them will use a semicolon
  • Items in a series that has internal punctuation will use semicolons


To emphasize words that follow it, a colon is used, however, it must be placed following a complete independent clause. 

There are several rules that govern the use of a colon.

  • After an independent clause, when making a list, place a colon, for example, I want to learn three languages: French, Spanish, and Hungarian 
  • They can be used to both give a quote and for explanations, for example, She started her speech: “Friends, Romans, countrymen…”
  • In a formal letter, and after a greeting, a colon is placed, for example, Dear Madam: For your consideration
  • Colons are used to show time (hours and minutes), for example, 01:30 A.M. 
  • Colons are used to separate titles and subtitles, for example, America: Home of the Brave


These are used in sentences as a way to provide extra information but can also be used for letters and numbers as a way to label them.

They aren’t something that should be used too often, however as they can prove to be a hindrance, rather than helping sentence construction. 

Quotation marks  

A person’s spoken or written words as direct quotations will appear with quotation marks. 

They should never, however, be used for indirect quotes as that doesn’t use a person’s exact words to pass on a message. 

To close off a quotation inside a quotation, you need to use single quotation marks.

Quotation marks can be used when speaking of short work titles, for example, a magazine article, website, book subdivision, radio programs, TV episodes, and more. 

They can also be used to draw attention to irony. 

It’s on the inside of quotation marks that periods and commas will need to be placed but that doesn’t apply to colons and semicolons as they are placed on the outside. 

When forming part of a quote, question marks, and exclamation points are put on the inside.

They are placed on the outside, however, when they go with the whole sentence. 


These are used in two ways.

First, for the deletion of letters in contractions.

Second, to show possession.

His, yours, hers, its and other possessive pronouns do not need apostrophes. 

Here are some examples:

  • Apostrophes in singular nouns: Mike’s baseball bat
  • Apostrophes in plural nouns: Boys’ tennis ball
  • Plural nouns without -s: Women’s department


Compound words are separated by hyphens. 

They can also be used in the following examples:

  • Writing out compound numbers like twenty-five
  • When used as adjectives, hyphens are needed in written-out fractions such as one-fourth
  • When adjectives come before a noun, hyphens are present
  • Words that are confused with other words make use of hyphens, for example, re-sort
  • Hard to read words can make use of hyphens

Dashes and ellipsis marks

A break or change in thought in a sentence can be shown by a dash.

They can also act as parentheses. 

In the case of ellipsis marks, they indicate that a quotation has had words removed from it but can never appear at the start of one.


When using brackets, there are two main reasons for doing so.

First, they are used to place parentheses inside of parentheses.

Secondly, if a quotation needs clarification or details, this is added in brackets if it doesn’t form part of said quotation. 

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