Punctuation: Definition, Types and Usage Rules
Punctuation or sometimes also called point is the use of conventional symbols such as full stop, comma, capital letters and apostrophe etc in the orthographic language to make sentences flow smoothly and express meaning clearly. It mentions when to pause or add a certain feeling to our words; it separates different ideas so that sentences are clear, it points out titles, quotes, and other Paramount parts of the language. punctuation is important! They are called traffic signals of the language.
Punctuation: Definition, Types and Usage Rules
It is said that there was no punctuation in any languages of old times. With time slowly it was introduced in the written form of the language to help a reader distinguish words and ideas from each other and to mirror the natural rhythms of the spoken language. In this article, we cover the appropriate use of some of the basic punctuations marks.
End Marks: Full stop, Note of Interrogation, Note of Exclamation
The full stop, exclamation point, and question marks are used at the end of a sentence. The following post is intended to help your punctuation marks.
Full Stop (.)is also called period in America. A full stop declares the end of a sentence. It also separates the sentences so that the readers cannot mix up different sentences. A full stop is used at the end of a sentence which is complete and not a question or an exclamatory sentence.
Ali was a little boy when he first saw a person dying. He was so annoyed and panicked that he could not sleep for several days. He still fears the sight of someone’s death.
The period is also used in abbreviations.
Saint = St.
Exempli gratia = e.g.
Nota bene = N.B.
Note of Interrogation (Question Mark) (?)
The sign of interrogation is used to complete sentences that form an interrogative sentence. Indirect questions are regarded as statements, and they take a full stop, not question marks.
Have you had your breakfast?
Where are you going?
I don’t know where he is going. (A statement, not a direct question)
Do you know he was watching TV all day long while I was cleaning the house for the party that we want to throw on this weekend? (It’s a long sentence, yet it is a direct question.)
Did you once think about your family? Your career? Your future? Your life? (Series of questions using the same subject and verb)
What? – So? – Right? (Single word questions are used only in informal writing.)
Note of Exclamation (Exclamation mark/point) (!)
The note of exclamation expresses excitement, either positive or negative. It can also be used for giving additional emphasis to sentences, phrases, or single words, and especially to commands and interjections.
Wait! Don’t take another step!
I can’t believe she could say that!
What a gorgeous house!
Note: It is best to avoid using a note of exclamation whenever the excitement can be described in words. You should be meticulous in using this punctuation in any form of writing.
The comma is the most useful and common punctuation mark in English. It has many important roles in making a written form of English easy to read.
Commas usually add breathing scope for the readers in sentences, so that their thoughts cannot get all jumbled up. A comma has many uses.
i. Comma between Independent Clauses
Usually, a comma separates two independent clauses when they are connected by certain coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, or for). However, if the clauses are very short, no comma is needed.
They finished dinner in pin-drop silence, but Alex knew that he would have to apologize.
I wanted to watch a movie after dinner, but I could not tell her as I was confused about her reactions.
We had dinner and then I watched a movie. (No comma is needed between these clauses)
ii. Comma after Introductory Clauses, Phrases, and Expression
Commas are used not only between independent clauses but also after introductory clauses and phrases. Some expressions and connectors which are placed at the beginning of a sentence also require a comma after them.
If you take off your jacket, you’ll catch a cold. (If the subordinators are used at the beginning of the sentences, the comma marks the separation of the two clauses)
Being insulted, the piper went to the hill. (Participial phrases are always separated from the clauses by commas.)
Before start riding it, you should read the instructions.
When you came here, Alex was the general manager.
Well, I cannot play in the next match.
However, Ali will play in the next match.
In winter we usually stay at home most of the time. (Short phrases like “in winter” don’t need commas.)
Note: A good way to clear the confusion about commas is to read the sentence aloud to make sure whether there is enough pause taken or not for using a comma.
iii. Series Comma
Commas are shorter pauses than a full stop. They are used to separate multiple items of the same category in a series. These items can be a series of words, phrases, or clauses.
We brought pizzas, burgers, chocolate, and a chocolate cake on tour.
The batsman set up his pads put on his helmet and played a good knock. (verb phrases)
He is a player, a singer, an actor, and a director.
iv. Comma before Tag Question
Commas are used before a tag question which is usually a reassuring statement of a sentence’s overall idea.
They’re ready to go, aren’t they?
They’ll never do it, will they?
He loves you, doesn’t he?
v. Comma in Direct Address
Commas are used in vocative uses. Calling someone by name or directly referring to them requires separation by commas.
Hey, Joe, what are you doing?
Listen, Lee, you have to bowl well today.
You know, kid, when I was your age, I used to go out a lot.
vi. Comma for Adding Nonessential Ideas and Nonrestrictive Clauses
Commas can be used to add nonessential ideas or facts in the form of words, phrases, or clauses into a sentence. Usually removing these ideas from sentences does not affect the grammatical accuracy of the sentences.
There’s a palace in London, just across the river, where I visited last week.
The new player, you know him, scored a brilliant century.
I suggest if that’s okay, that you let him go.
vii. Commas in Names and Dates
Commas are used to separate names of places and dates.
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