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Why you should consider the importance of punctuation

In: How to

Previously, we have already spoke about grammatical aspects of English language: gerund, prepositions, basic grammar rules. Have you ever imagined that punctuation also plays a critical part in English?

Yes, punctuation really matters in English language.  It implies correct arrangement of small, sometimes hardly noticeable marks in the appropriate places in order to indicate the exact length and the meaning of the sentence.

Proper punctuation is a necessity in written English. It gives the reader an understanding of the meaning of the text and the idea revealed by an author. Proper punctuation is also important tool to make your written text logical and readable.

Even a small comma can greatly change the meaning of the sentence. For example:

Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.

vs.

Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats shoots and leaves. 

Which sentence makes more sense? 

Let us dwell on the basic rules of English punctuation.

Punctuation marks:

full stop

! exclamation mark

? question mark

, comma

: colon

; semi colon

' apostrophe

" " quotation marks

- hyphen

1. Apostrophe '

The apostrophe before or after letter ( 's) is used to show possession. For example:

This is Nick’s notebook.

We were invited to the Gibsons' house.

It is also used to show omissions in informal writing. For example:

I’d like to eat a sausage and an egg for a breakfast.

2. Comma ,

Commas indicate a short pause in a complex sentence or mark out individual items in long lists. Commas are used to split long sentences, but only in order to show a discontinuity and fragmentation that is essential for the human mind. You do not need to put a space before a comma, but it is required after comma. For example:

A lot of people gathered in the main hall: workers, managers, CEOs. The workers stood in the rows, managers sat at the tables on the left and CEO department took seats on the right.

Comma is often used in direct speech. For example: 

“That is not my fault!”, he claimed.

3. Full stop .

The full stop is placed at the end of affirmative sentences and indicates a complete thought. You do not need to put a space in front of the full stop, but it is required after it.

My name is Alex. I am a teacher.

The full stop can be used in abbreviations, such as p.m., vs., etc., Dec. For example:

They bought a lot of fruits, vegetables, pasta, wine, etc. for a birthday party.

4. Colon :

Colon precedes the list, explanation or example. It can be used in the following cases:

  • Colon is put between 2 main clauses in case if the 2nd clause explains the 1st clause. For example:

Our company has a motto: quality goes first!

  • Colon is used before enumeration/ list. For example:

The price of the standard twin room included the following: transfer from airport, breakfast and free Wi-Fi.

  • Colon is put before direct speech or quotation:

Many people came to the festival: from Canada, Europe, New Zealand.

5. Hyphen –

Hyphens are used to connect words or syllables or to separate a word into pieces. Usually hyphen is used in compound words. For example:

My father-in-law is going to visit me this summer.

6. Question mark ?

The question mark is placed at the end of the interrogative sentence.

What time are you going to work?

7. Exclamation mark !

It is often said that the exclamation mark serves to express exclamation. It is most commonly used to show shock, surprise, horror or pleasure. For example:

“Run faster!”, - he shouted to me.

Thank you so much for your help!

8. Semi colon ;

The semicolon is used to separate two sentences that could be connected by the following conjunctions: and, because, as, if or but. It is stronger than a comma, but not as strong as a full stop.

I cannot wait to see her on a prom; I’m sure she will be gorgeous.

9. Quotation marks " "

Quotation marks are used to indicate the direct speech. For example:

Take your pills twice a day”, - the doctor said.

And remember, the way you write shows the level of your intelligence. Do not neglect punctuation.

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