Today, we’ll go through the use of punctuation. Some of you wanted to know more about this topic, so I’m going to explain different types of punctuation marks and when they are used.
The types of punctuation marks used in English are: full stop, question mark, exclamation mark, colon, semi-colon, comma, dash, hyphen, quotation marks, apostrophe.
A sentence begins with a capital letter and can end either with a full stop, a question mark, or an exclamation mark, depending on the type of the sentence.
· If the sentence is a statement, we use a full stop.
I got up early today.
· If the sentence is a question, we use a question mark.
Are you going to the cinema this evening?
· BUT We do not use question marks after indirect questions.
He asked me if I was going to the cinema.
· If the sentence is an exclamation, we use an exclamation mark.
Keep reading and learn MORE TIPS TO IMPROVE your English Grammar.
FULL STOP .
· Full stops are normally used in statements.
I met a new friend yesterday.
· We can also use full stops after abbreviations. This is more common in American English than in British English.
Dr. Jack Jones, M.A. (Dr Jack Jones, MA)
· A colon usually introduces an explanation or further details.
There was a problem with the computer: it was full of malware.
· A colon can introduce a list.
The three kinds of support we need are: economic, moral and political.
· Americans usually put a colon after the opening salutation (Dear …) in a business letter.
Dear Mr. Jones:
I am writing to…
· A long passage of direct speech may be introduced by a colon.
Introducing the plan for next semester, the professor said: ‘We need to work on your writing skills, as well as your vocabulary. You need to talk more. There’s no point of learning English if you do not use it…’
· A colon is used when direct speech is introduced by a name or short phrase (as in the text of a play, or when famous sayings are quoted).
ROMEO: She speaks. O, speak again, bright angel.
JULIET: O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
In the words of Blaise Pascal: ‘Love has reasons which reason cannot understand.’
· Semi-colons (;) are sometimes used instead of full stops, in cases where sentences are grammatically independent, but the meaning is closely connected.
Pluto was discovered relatively recently; it is the smallest planet.
· Semi-colons can also be used to separate items in a list, particularly when these are grammatically complex.
You may use the gym on condition that your subscription is paid regularly; that you take care of the equipment; that you do not make any damage;…
· Commas (,) generally reflect pauses in speech.
· Clauses connected with and, but or or are usually separated by commas unless they are very short.
She had so much money, but she didn’t know what to do with it.
· When a sentence begins with a subordinate clause, it is often followed by a comma.
If you ever come to Paris, come and see me.
· If an expression is embedded in a sentence, it is separated off by commas.
My sister, however, did not agree to my suggestion.
Mr Wilson, who lives next door, forgot to take his mail.
· After be and other ‘link verbs’, commas are always used between adjectives.
The man was tall, dark and handsome.
· Before a noun, we generally use commas between adjectives which give similar kinds of information.
This is an expensive, ill-planned, wasteful project.
· Commas cannot be dropped when adjectives or other modifiers refer to different parts of something.
I bought a white, black and gold carpet.
· We can use commas to separate items in a series or list. A comma is not usually used with and between the last two items unless these are long.
Last year I travelled to Spain, Italy, Portugal and France.
· A comma is generally used between a reporting expression and a piece of direct speech.
He said, ‘I want to go out with you’.
· If a reporting expression follows a piece of direct speech, we usually put a comma instead of a full stop before the closing quotation mark.
‘I don’t want to go home,’ said Jackie.
· Commas are used to divide large numbers into groups of three figures, by separating off the thousands and millions.
· Dashes are especially common in informal writing. They can be used in the same way as colons, semi- colons or brackets.
There are three things I like about you – your sincerity, thoughtfulness and positive thinking.
We had a great time in Italy – my sister really enjoyed the trip.
My sister – who is always cranky – was in a great mood.
· A hyphen shows that two words belong together.
· It is usual in compound expressions before a noun.
a no-win situation
a thirty-three-meters-high building
· We use a hyphen in compound numbers below 100.
four hundred and ninety-seven
· Some compound nouns are written with a hyphen.
· A hyphen is usually used after the prefix non-.
· Some other prefixes can also be followed by a hyphen, for example anti-, ex-, semi-.
· We use a hyphen when a word is divided between one line of print or handwriting and the next.
It is important not to under-
estimate the consequences..
QUOTATION MARKS ‘..’ “…”
· Quotation marks can be single (‘…’) or double (“…”).
· We use quotation marks (single or double) when we quote direct speech.
He said, ‘I want to go out with you’.
· For quotations inside quotations, we use double quotation marks inside single (or single inside double).
‘His last words,’ said Jackie, ‘were “I love you”.’
· We often put quotation marks (usually single) round words which are used in special ways – for example when we talk about them, when we use them as titles, or when we give them special meanings.
His next book was ‘No Country for Old Men’.