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In this paper, we analyze the symbol-error-rate (SER) performance of decode-and-forward (DF) cooperative communications over Nakagami-m fading channels. For the classical three-node cooperation model, which includes a source, a relay and a destination, the exact SER expressions for M-phase shift keying (PSK) and M-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) are derived. For easy usage, we provide asymptotic approximations for the SER as well. In addition, optimal power allocation is investigated based on the derived asymptotic SER expressions. Simulations are finally provided to verify the correctness of our analysis.