Punctuation in English Rules and recommendations.
Introduction. • In writing, we can use punctuation marks to emphasize, clarify, … what we mean. • Meanwhile, in speaking, we can make a pause, stop, change our tone of voice… • That’s why in writing, we make use of Punctuation marks as signals to our readers.
1. The full stop. • The full stop is used: • a. at the end of a complete statement (or utterance) which is neither an exclamation nor a question. • e.g. He saw a UFO among the trees. He asked me if I had seen it. Yes. A UFO.
1. The full stop. • b. After abbreviations. • B.A. ( Bachelor of Arts ). • e.g. ( exempli gratia, for example ). • N.B. ( Nota bene, note well ). • Note: It is often the practice to omit the full stop if the last letter of the abbreviated word is given: e.g. Mr Dr
1. The full stop. • The full stop is the most important of the punctuation marks. • Its omission, when its use is undeniably required, • will confuse the reader; • ideas will be mixed up and • the meaning intended by the writer will not be probably communicated to the reader.
2. The comma. , • A comma is a punctuation mark that indicates a pause is needed in a sentence. • Itseparatesthestructuralelementsofsentencesintomanageablesegments. • Commas are both an aid to sense and to ease of reading. • They are sometimes used in long sentences to break up words into sections where the sense allows a pause to be taken. It is better to underuse them than to overuse them.
2. The comma. • Commas are frequently overused. It is as well always consider the effect on the sense and construction of a sentence that their inclusion or omission would have. Consider the following: e.g. I saw my friend John. I saw my friend, John.
2. The comma. • The first sentence implies that I have several friends, but the one that I saw was Tom. The omission of the comma allows Tom' to define which friend it was that I saw. • The second sentence may imply that I have only one friend and that his name happens to be ‘Tom'. The inclusion of the comma allows the word ‘Tom' merely to qualify the word friend. It might also mean that the speaker is addressing Tom when he or she says, "I saw my friend".
2. The comma. • Conventional uses of the comma. • To separate two descriptions, set side by side, of the same object or person; The second of the two descriptions adds to the meaning of the first and is parallel to it. (Technically, the second statement is said to be 'in apposition to' the first.) • e.g. Mr Brown, the grocer, sells butter.
Conventional uses of the comma. 2. To separate the items or elements in a list. e.g. At the grocer's I bought some eggs, bacon, sugar, tea and biscuits. • Note: Some writers would not insert the comma before the final and but others would argue that because it separates 'tea' from 'biscuits' as elements in a list it should be there. Look, however, at the final coma in the following list, where it is essential: For breakfast I ate some cereals, toast, and eggs and bacon. The final pair of items here (eggs and bacon) may be seen as a single element; to have omitted the comma after 'toast' would have obscured the sense by running 'toast' and 'eggs and bacon' together.
Conventional uses of the comma. 3. To mark off the name or title of a person being addressed. e.g. Mr Smith, what is the trouble ? I'd much rather, James, you told me the truth. Doctor, I have had a pain in my back for quite a time.
Conventional uses of the comma. 4. Following introductory words which introduce direct speech or a direct question. e.g. He said, 'I know that I should not have said that.' The policeman asked, 'why did you hesitate?'
Conventional uses of the comma. 5. To separate short clauses which list actions, events, and so on. e.g. The man rose, left the room, slammed the door, and made his way into the street.
Conventional uses of the comma. 6. To indicate a statement interpolated within a sentence. Commas here effectively bracket off the interpolation. e.g. It was obvious, all things considered, that he had done the wrong thing.
Conventional uses of the comma. 7. To separate, or mark off, a phrase which stands apart from the rest of a sentence. • e.g. The decision taken, there was no going back.
Conventional uses of the comma. 8. To indicate where the words have been deliberately omitted but need to be understood. e.g. The professor could pursue his own ideas; I, mine.
Conventional uses of the comma. 9. To mark off a series of statements in the same sentence. • e.g. He knew what he had to do, where he had to go, and when he should take the next step.
Conventional uses of the comma. 10. To mark off a statement which qualifies the meaning of a word. (The omission of the comma here would alter the sense by changing the qualification into a clear definition.) • e.g. He stumbled into the house, which was his home. • (This implies that there was only one house and this house happened to be his home.) • Use commaswhereveryouthinkthey are are necessarytopreventpossibleconfusionormisreading.
Conventional uses of the comma. • The comma in a compound sentence is placed before the coordinating conjunction. Andy built a sand castle, and Joe played with his dog. SVconj. Andybuilta sand castle,and Joe played with his dog. SV
Conventional use of the comma When a dependent clause is located after an independent clause, DO NOTplace a comma between the two. S.Agustín is a good team but Natación is better. SVDCMS V Ibecame very sick when the SVDCM roller coasterzoomed upside down. SV
3. The semicolon. • The semicolon marks off one part of sentence from another much more sharply than a comma. • It is particularly useful to divide a long sentence into self-contained sections. The semicolon is used:
3. The semicolon. • To separate a series of complete statements which, nevertheless, belong to a longer whole statement. e.g. He was ill; he now knew it; he would go to the doctor's. Note: The semicolons here give to the three short statements a dramatic note which would not be present if the first were replaced by a comma and the second by a conjunction, such as and; indeed, to change the statement in this way would weaken it so much that it would become almost meaningless.
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