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Punctuation Rules

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Punctuation marks are devices used for structuring and organizing contents in writing. They are used to create sense and clarity and sometimes mood, in sentences.
Punctuations are like flavors required to make sense of a sentence like recipe is to cooking..

Some common examples of why punctuations are important in English language can be seen in the following sentences:

1. “A woman, without her man, is nothing.”
2. “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

While these two sentences have the same words, they mean entirely different things. Now, you can see how important punctuations are in writing.

The most important punctuation marks are:
1. The comma (,)
2. The semi- colon (;)
3. The colon (:)
4. The full stop or period (.)
5. The question mark (?)

In this article, we are going to be looking at each of the punctuation marks for better understanding of how to use them

1. The comma: The comma marks the slightest possible pause and is the most important of all the stops. Its uses are as follows:

(a) Three or more words of the same part of speech ought to be separated by commas.
‘‘They bought fruits like Mangoes, Oranges, Apple and Pawpaw.

(b) Phrases in a sentence should be separated by the use of a comma.
”America, the land of the free, the home of the brave”.

(c) We also use commas after words or phrases that go in pairs.
The poor and the rich, the weak and the strong, the young and the old, have the same God.

2. The semicolon: We use the semicolon for longer pauses than the comma.
(a) The semicolon separates two closely linked clauses and shows the link between them.
(i) All were against him; he still stuck to his idea.
(ii) He will die some day; he is mortal.

(b) The semicolon as well separates items in a complex list.
(i) We had ten candidates in total: three from Manchester; two from Birmingham, four from Stamford; and one from Bristol.

3. The colon: it is the longest pause in a sentence after the full stop.
Its usage is governed by the following rules:
(a) Introducing direct quotations in a sentence.
(i) The king said: “Let the games begin.”

(b) Introducing a second sentence to buttress the point being made in the first sentence
(i) “Some things we can and others we cannot do: We can walk but we cannot fly like birds.”

4. The full stop: The full stop or period marks the close of a thought and so, of the sentence. It is wiser to err on the side of too many full stops rather than too few.
(i) The end is near. We all have to be conscious of this.

The full stop is also used in abbreviations and contractions.
(i) M. A.
(ii) B.Sc.
(iii) Ph.D.

Albeit it is important to note that it is not commonplace to use full stops in abbreviations.

5. The question mark: We use the question mark at the end of every direct question where the sentence stands as an independent unit.
That is, the sentence is able to stand alone.
It is important to note that the question mark is not used for indirect question.

Example of indirect question:
The officer asked me if I had seen the thief.

Examples with question mark are:
(i)Who is he?
(ii)Where is the man?

It is important for students of English language to learn about this punctuation marks as one cannot write a proper speech without them.

Other punctuation marks are:
(7) The exclamation mark (!)
(8) The hyphen (-)
(9) The apostrophe (‘)
(10) The ellipsis (…)
(11) The bracket ()

I shall write about these other ones some other time.
So, subscribe to Newsletters from this website and be on the lookout.

Do you know of other punctuation marks and their uses?

Tell us about them in the comment box below.


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One Response to Punctuation Rules

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