Ampersand Symbol

Rules and Examples


Punctuation marksThe ampersand symbol ( & ) is a symbol that can be used for the word "and."

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The ampersand symbol should only be used in very informal writing unless it is being used in a formal company name.

On the keyboard:

On most keyboards, you can make the ampersand symbol by pressing the SHIFT key + the number 7 on the top number line.

Rules for using the ampersand symbol

1. Use the ampersand symbol in sentences in place of the word "and."

The ampersand symbol should only be used in very informal writing such as a friendly letter or email, texts, tweets, memos, rough drafts, class notes and journal writing.

Examples:
  • Bill & I would like you to come to our house for supper on Sunday.

  • At the zoo we saw lions, zebras, bears & monkeys.

  • Combine the ingredients, then stir & pour into a large pan.
    cooking

2. The ampersand symbol is used in some formal company names and titles.

Examples:man with dog

  • AT&T

  • Barnes & Noble

  • Procter & Gamble

  • Abercrombie & Fitch

  • Marley & Me (movie)

  • Turner & Hootch (movie)

3. You can also use the ampersand symbol when addressing letters to a couple.

Examples:
  • Mr. & Mrs. Johnson

  • John & Sally Smith

    husband and wife

Origin

The symbol ( & )

In Latin, "et" stands for "and."

The ampersand symbol ( & ) originally looked like a cursive "E" and "T" put together for the word "et."

The symbol was at the end of the Latin alphabet and the 27th letter of the English alphabet.

The symbol has changed over time to look more stylish.

There are many different ways to make an ampersand symbol. The symbol looks slightly different when using different fonts on the computer.

Examples from Microsoft Word:

& (Californian FB)

& (French Script MT)

&
(Goudy Stout)

& (Lucida Handwriting)

& (Maiandra GD)

& (Poor Richard)

student

The word "ampersand"

The word "ampersand" comes from the phrase "and per se and".

And per se and = and the symbol which by itself is and.

the letter AThis phrase was used in English-speaking schools when saying the alphabet.

Students would say "per se"(meaning "by itself") before any letter of the alphabet that could stand for a word by itself. ("A" and "I" are two modern examples.)

The ampersand sign was at the end of the English and Latin alphabets.

At the end of the alphabet, students would say,

"X, Y, Z and per se and."

When it is said quickly, it sounds like,

"X, Y, Z ampersand."

"Ampersand" was added to dictionaries in 1837.


These were the uses of the ampersand symbol. Now that you know them, it is time to practice! Read and do exercises.

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