Punctuations

Punctuations in English

Punctuation Marks are very useful to make a sentence meaningful. If not correctly punctuated a sentence can be misleading conveying completely different meaning than what it actually intended to convey. For instance go through the below paragraph which has no punctuation marks at all-

Punctuation Marks in a sentence make it meaningful and understandable without proper punctuation reading a paragraph could be real torture with no inference Oh my God is it not true if you are reading this and could still make it through you are a genius it doesn’t take a genius to read an unpunctuated paragraph but only a genius can understand it wishing you Good Luck.

Now, we will again go through the above paragraph punctuated properly as below-

Punctuation Marks in a sentence make it meaningful and understandable; without proper punctuation, reading a paragraph could be real torture, with no inference. Oh my God! Is it not true? If you are reading this and could still make it through, you are a genius! It doesn’t take a genius to read an unpunctuated paragraph, but only a genius can understand it. Wishing you Good Luck!

Punctuations therefore, make a sentence or a paragraph more meaningful and organized.

List of Punctuations

English Grammar has 14 Punctuation Marks as given below-

  • Period
  • Exclamation
  • Question Mark
  • Comma
  • Semicolon
  • Colon
  • Dash
  • Hyphen
  • Parenthesis
  • Brackets
  • Braces
  • Apostrophe
  • Quotation Marks
  • Ellipsis

Below we will go through them one by one, with explanations on how they should be used.

1) Period or Full Stop (.)

The single dot that we use to end a sentence is commonly called a full stop and is also called a period in British English. A full stop is used to terminate a sentence and in abbreviations as show below-

 

To Terminate Sentences-

  • I am going home.
  • President is the highest constitutional post.
  • Please, do as I say.
  • It is up to you, either take it or leave it.
  • Narendra Modi is the 15th Prime Minister of India.

A Full Stop is always used to terminate a declarative statement; it cannot be used to end either a question or an exclamation. It is used when a sentence seems logically concluded and sounding complete. Please note that the word written immediately after a period (.) starts with a capital letter.

To Indicate Abbreviations-

Many abbreviations like Mr, Mrs, a.m., p.m., etc are indicated with a period, as shown in sentences below-

  • X will be chairing today’s meeting.
  • The train leaves at 7 a.m. in the morning.
  • Narendra Modi is the 15th Indian P.M.
  • C. is an abbreviation for British Columbia as well as Before Christ.
  • The New Year 2019 begins on Tue., Jan. 1.

Abbreviations like Mr, Mrs, Dr and Ms, do not require a period in British English, but is ok to complement them with a period in American English. You are advised to use your own discretion for that matter.

 2) Exclamation (!)

Exclamation Mark is used to express various emotions like- astonishment, joy, hurt, sorrow, surprise or to put stress on a short phrase or a comment. For Example-

  • God help me! (plea in sorrow)
  • I don’t believe it! (surprise)
  • Hurray we won! (joy)
  • Ouch that hurts! (pain)
  • Get off my way! (short warning or objection)

 

 

The number of Exclamation Marks could be increased to put more stress on the sentence i.e. more exclamation marks indicate stronger emotions, as shown in sentences below-

  • God help me!!! (strong plea or request)
  • I don’t believe it!! (strong surprise)
  • Hurray we won!!! (extreme joy)
  • Ouch that hurts!!! ( tremendous pain)
  • Get off my way!! ( strong objection or warning)

The number of Exclamations Marks is to be decided by the writer, though in an informal writing a maximum of three Exclamation Marks together, can suffice the purpose and in a formal writing, more than one exclamation should be avoided.

Exclamation Mark can also be used to end an ironic statement; where the speaker is actually taunting a particular, event, thing, place or behavior. Go through the below sentences for example-

  • What a nice party! (When the party isn’t actually nice)
  • What a nice car! (when the car isn’t nice)
  • It is a really nice house! (when the house isn’t actually nice)
  • What a noble gesture! (when the gesture isn’t noble at all)
  • It hurts! (sarcastically, when it doesn’t hurt at all)

All the above comments are sarcastic and are made as taunts.

In an informal writing, an Exclamation Mark can also be used with a question mark to express both surprise and uncertainty. Go through the examples below-

  • They are buying a new car!?
  • She must be enjoying!?
  • That’s strange!?

The above statements express both surprise and confusion.

3) Question Mark (?)

Use Question Marks to end direct Questions, as shown below-

  • What is your name?
  • Where do you live?
  • You speak Kannada, don’t you?
  • Do you know the exact time of meeting?
  • Where did she go?

A Question Mark should never be used to end an indirect question, as shown below-

  • He asked me where I was living.
  • He asked me what my name was.
  • She asked me whether I knew exact time of the meeting.
  • He asked if I speak Kannada.
  • They asked me about where she went.

Long questions are still required to be terminated with a Question Mark, as shown below-

  • How is it that even though we are the world’s fastest growing economy, we still have 20 crore Indians going to sleep hungry?
  • Isn’t it true that the incessant population growth is the prime factor responsible for unemployment, poverty and deteriorating law and order situation of the nation?

Though the questions are unusually longer, but nevertheless they are Questions and a Question must end with a Question Mark (?).

Usually the next word to a Question Mark is capitalized it starts a new sentence, but it need not to be so if it is the continuation of the sentence as shown below-

  • We all must agree, shouldn’t we? that the religion is opium of masses.
  • Why didn’t she reply? asked the manager.
  • Isn’t it surprising? that those who supported the cause are absent for the seminar.

4) Comma (,)

The most general purpose of a Comma that we all know is to provide breathing space between sentences. They have many uses other than that and are also used for a more organized and effective writing. Commas are used to separate any consecutively appearing noun, pronoun, adverb verb or any other representation of same type. We will go through the various uses of Comma (,) with suitable examples.

Between Consecutive Nouns

Comma is used to separate two or more consecutive nouns or pronouns in a sentence as shown below-

  • Oliver, Martha, Samantha and John are going to the fair well party.
  • In breakfast we had sandwich, pastry, juice and dosa.
  • Calcutta, Mumbai and Madras are metropolitan cities.
  • Dogs, cats, cows, horses and bulls are domestic animals.
  • Schools, offices, institutions and hospitals must have proper emergency exits.
  • Car, bus, bike or train is one of the preferred modes of travel.

The last two items in the series are separated by ‘and’ or ‘or’, preceded by a final comma know as the oxford Comma.

Between Independent Clauses

Comma should be used between a series of independent clauses as shown in the example sentences below-

  • He was there, we saw each other, and later joined for dinner.
  • You are good, you may also win, but there is a difference between a win and a victory.
  • She is exhausted, and looking for rest.
  • They came, they saw, and they conquered.

The comma in the above sentences separate independent clauses, mainly with a purpose to provide breathing space.

Between A Series of Adjectives

Comma is also used to separate a series of adjectives as shown in sentences below-

  • The man was tall, dark, bearded, and handsome.
  • The car we saw was new, big, clean and beautiful.
  • Oliver is gentle, obedient, calm and polite.

The last set of adverbs however have to be separated by ‘and’.

Between A Series of Verbs

The same rule has to be applied to a series of verbs. As shown-

  • A good journalist has to investigate, formulate, edit and print the news.
  • I shouted, screamed, yelled for help, when I was locked.

Between A Series of Phrases

Comma (,) can also be used for separating a series of phrases as shown in examples below-

  • The cat jumped on the wall, ran through it, jumped on the roof, and finally on the tree.
  • The ball bounced on the field, hit the entrance, and finally smashed the window.

Enclosing Information

Comma (,) is also used to separate two or more related clauses, concealing an information as shown in examples below-

  • India, one of the world’s most populous nations, has surpassed China in economical growth.
  • Nepal, which has a Hindu majority, is bordered to North by china.

Before Tag Questions

Comma (,) has to be used before tag questions as shown in the examples below-

  • Kalam was a genius, wasn’t he?
  • It’s scary to see a snake, isn’t it?
  • He could have called me, couldn’t he?

5) Semicolon (;)

Between Phrases

Semicolon (;) is somewhat a mix of both a comma (,) and a period (.). It is used to separate two related phrases without having to use a conjunction. Go through the below given example sentences-

  • Nice car you have got; I would love to drive it.
  • The dog was scary; he growled furiously.
  • The birds were chirping; the cricks were calling.

Before Conjunctive Adverbs

Semicolon could be used before Conjunctive Adverbs- therefore, however, moreover, consequently, furthermore and unfortunately. However the semicolon should end an independent clause, beginning a new one with Conjunctive Adverb. In this case the Conjunctive Adverb must be preceded by a Comma (,). Please go through the example sentences given below-

  • He has experience; therefore, he got selected for the job.
  • We were running late; however, we reached the venue on time.
  • She was running late; moreover, she forgot her bag.
  • The manager wanted to meet him; unfortunately, he wasn’t at the desk.

6) Colon (:)

A colon (:) is used to separate a sentence with its explanation. The colon is placed after a statement and is preceded by the more elaborate explanation of the statement; as show in examples below-

  • Illiteracy has many effects: unemployment, poverty and increase in crime are only few of its manifestations.
  • This shop sells all the items: jugs, mugs, cloths, soaps and groceries.
  • She has many responsibilities: cooking the food, taking care of the children and her ailing mother in law.

Colon (:) is also used in the representation of time, as shown in the examples below.

  • Let us meet at 4:00 P.M. today.
  • The meeting is scheduled at 15:15 Hours.

7) Dash (-)

A dash (-) is used similarly as a colon (:), but is less formal than a colon. It is advisable to avoid a dash in a formal writing. A dash (-) on the other hand, must have space on both sides. Go through the example sentences below.

  • The song of birds, the smell of soil, a cool breeze – the reason why I love to visit my village.
  • She is considerate – feeds the kids, care for her parents and cooks for the family.
  • He may skip the meeting – he is unpredictable.

8) Hyphen (-)

A hyphen (-) looks similar to a dash (-), but the two are used differently. Unlike the dash, a hyphen has no space on either side and is used to separate two or more words together. For Ex-

  • Run-down
  • Up-to-date
  • Single-handedly
  • Single-minded
  • Rent-a-cab
  • Freeze-dried
  • Sun-dried
  • Salt-and-pepper

There is no space on either side of the Hyphen (-).

Hyphen (-) can also be used before prefixes as shown in the examples below-

  • Co-ordinate
  • Co-operate
  • Bell-shaped
  • Pro-nationalist
  • Anti-nationalist
  • Pre-school
  • Father-in-law
  • Sister-in-law

In representing numbers and fractions. For Ex-

  • Twenty-two
  • Sixty-two
  • One-fourth
  • Three-fourth

9) Parenthesis ( )

Parenthesis refers to round bracket, which we are more accustomed to use – (). A round bracket is used to enclose information related to the sentence. Please go through the following example sentences on Parenthesis and its use-

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 – 1948) is a revered freedom fighter of India.
  • Last time we met (June 2016); she was suffering from flu.
  • Please find my C.V. (attached with the mail), as requested by you.
  • Many young children (below 5 years) are malnourished.

Removing a Parenthesis from a sentence doesn’t change its meaning at all and a parenthesis in many cases could be replaced by a comma (,). Please go through the below modifications-

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1869 – 1948, is a revered freedom fighter of India.
  • Last time we met, June 2016; she was suffering from flu.
  • Please find my C.V. attached with the mail, as requested by you.

All the above sentences still make sense; therefore, many times a round Bracket ( ) can be replaced by a Comma (,).

10) Bracket [ ]

The square bracket [ ] that we rarely use is used mainly in mathematical expressions. It can be used to add personal comments. The contents of a square bracket cannot be merged with the rest of the sentence like the round bracket ( ). For Ex-

  • She [the class teacher] yelled loudly at the students.
  • The student said: She [the class teacher] scolded them.
  • His [writer’s friend] relationship with the writer cannot be explained in words.

Removing the square brackets doesn’t form meaningful sentences-

  • She, the class teacher yelled loudly at the students.
  • The students said: she the class teacher scolded them.

Therefore a square bracket [ ] cannot be merged with the sentence like a round bracket ( ).

11) Braces { }

Braces are also known as curly bracket. Braces are most commonly used in mathematical expressions, as representation of a universal set, like in the examples below-

  • { 22 x [44 – 10(2)] – 12}

In English literature however, Braces are used in poetry or to create a list of choices as shown in the examples below.

  • Choose a color: {yellow, indigo, pearl white, coal black, parrot green} for your car.

A curly bracket or braces { } are also used in a poetry at the end of a triplet.

12) Apostrophe (‘)

An apostrophe (‘) has much significance in English Literature. It is used when a noun and a verb combine or even to show possessiveness. We will understand the use of apostrophe with the help of suitable examples as given below-

To Combine “Not”

Apostrophe (‘) is used to combine “not” with the preceding noun or pronoun as shown below-

  • Is not – Isn’t
  • Cannot – Can’t
  • Could not – couldn’t
  • Has not – hasn’t
  • Should not – shouldn’t
  • Would not – wouldn’t

The “o” of the “not” is dropped and is replaced by the apostrophe (‘).

To combine “is”

Apostrophe (‘) is also used to combine “is” to a noun or a pronoun as shown in below examples-

  • He is – He’s
  • She is – she’s
  • There is – there’s
  • It is – it’s
  • Who is – who’s

To combine “will”

T combine “will” to a noun or pronoun as shown in examples below-

  • I will – I’ll
  • He will – he’ll
  • She will – she’ll
  • They will – they’ll

In the above cases the Apostrophe (‘) replaces ‘wi’.

To combine “have”

Apostrophe is used for combining “have” with a noun or pronoun as shown in the examples below-

  • I have – I’ve
  • They have – they’ve
  • We have – we’ve
  • You have – you’ve

To combine “are”

Apostrophe (‘) can be used to combine “are” with a noun or a pronoun.

  • You are - you’re
  • We are – we’re
  • They are – they’re

To Show Possessiveness

Apostrophe (‘) followed by a noun or pronoun indicate possessiveness, as demonstrated by examples below-

  • It is Robert’s car. (belonging to Robert)
  • Oliver’s bike is faster than mine. (the bike belonging to Oliver)
  • My car’s radiator is damaged. (radiator of the car)
  • My cat’s fur is soft and silky. (fur of the cat)
  • Her dad’s office is just around the corner. (office of the dad)

Apostrophe s (‘s) when written after a noun or pronoun, indicates possession.

Common nouns ending with s: ladies, bus, babies, teachers, show possession by adding and apostrophe after them. For Ex-

  • The shop offers discount on ladies’ jacket.
  • The bus’ tires are damaged.
  • Dry the babies’ cloth.
  • The teachers’ conduct in the class matters a lot.

Proper nouns ending with “s”, can show possessiveness by –‘s or simply by using apostrophe, as shown in the examples below.

  • Prince Charles’s net worth is very high.
  • Prince Charles’ net worth is very high.
  • Manila is Philippines’s capital.
  • Manila is Philippines’ capital.

13) Quotation Marks (“ ”), (‘ ’)

Use Quotation Marks only while telling the exact sentence as told by the speaker. While rephrasing, however no quotation mark is to be used. For Ex-

  • “Get off my bus”, the driver yelled. (exact words of the driver are written within quotation)
  • My doctor told me, “Take your medicines on time”. (exact words of the doctor)
  • The teacher said to me, “submit your project”. (exact words of the teacher)
  • The teacher asked me to submit my project. (Rephrased -  not exactly the words spoken by the teacher)

Single Quotation Mark can also be used for marking certain expressions as shown below-

  • His promotion has become a ‘bone of contention’.
  • That man is cunning; he is like a ‘wolf among the sheeps’.

14) Ellipses (……)

Ellipses are those little dots we often use in e mail messages or social media chats. Its ok to use an ellipse but one should not over do it.

Ellipses can be used to represent the omission of a phrase or a sentence that is familiar to the reader. Like quoting something from a famous quote or poem or saying etc. For Ex we will consider a famous quote of Buddha given below-

  • Drop by drop is the water pod filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.

Now, during a formal chat or writing, you have the liberty of omitting the middle phrases; replacing them by Ellipses (….) as shown below-

  • Drop by drop is the water pod filled…………….fills himself with good.

In writing ellipses indicate a pause, giving an expression that the speaker or writer is catching a breathe.

Exercises/Worksheets/Activities on Punctuations with Answers

Exercises/Worksheet/Activities on Comma (,) Punctuation with Answers:

Add a Comma (,) to the following sentences wherever necessary-

1) He has a cute little adorable puppy.

2) He is smart handsome confident and beautiful.

3) Oliver is coming to meet me today for discussing some business plans.

4) The child drank the juice but refused the milk.

5) The man with the black hat desperately ran towards the podium.

6) As children grow they need to be taught discipline.

7) As trees grow their branches they need to be trimmed.

8) Oliver as per the records has ten years of work experience.

9) That place is in my opinion too risky for children.

10) You are going to attend the meeting won’t you?

Answers-

1) He has a cute, little, adorable puppy.

2) He is smart, handsome, confident, and beautiful.

3) Oliver is coming to meet me today, for discussing some business plans.

4) The child drank the juice, but refused the milk.

5) The man with the black hat, desperately ran towards the podium.

6) As children grow, they need to be taught discipline.

7) As trees grow their branches, they need to be trimmed.

8) Oliver, as per the records, has ten years of work experience.

9) That place is, in my opinion, too risky for children.

10) You are going to attend the meeting, won’t you?

Exercises/Worksheet/Activities on Apostrophe (‘) Punctuation with Answers:

Use the apostrophe correctly with the noun or pronoun to complete the following sentences. Take hint from the noun/pronoun, written in braces after the sentence.

1) ________ car is a old model of Ford. (Oliver)

2) The shop is giving 50% discount on all the _______ apparel. (men)

3) My _______ leg got stuck in a pipe. (dog)

4) ________ profession is very challenging. (doctor)

5) Oliver was called into the __________ room. (teacher)

6) The __________ hull was broken. (ship)

7) ________ capital and largest city is Vientiane. (Laos)

8) The ________ mileage depends on its maintenance. (bike)

9) Delhi is _________ capital. (India)

10) The army __________ mess serves quality food. (officer)

Answer- 1) Oliver’s, 2) men’s, 3) dog’s, 4) doctors’, 5) teachers’, 6) ship’s, 7) Laos’, 8) bike’s, 9) India’s, 10) officers’

Exercises/Worksheet/activities on Semicolon (;) Punctuation with Answers:

Place the semicolon marks in the sentences where required and verify your answers with the answers provided in the end of the exercise.

1) My cat hurt its leg it can’t go out today.

2) He is actually nervous he is calling me frantically.

3) The bus was travelling fast the passengers were getting scared.

4) I am running high fever therefore I didn’t go to office today.

5) We were already late moreover we lost our car’s keys.

6) This is ridiculous he should have informed be before.

7) I forgot my book at home I was in a hurry today.

8) Oliver was late for the assembly however he was permitted to attend.

9) She is going home today she is very happy.

10) There is God you just need to have faith in him.

Answers-

1) My cat hurt its leg; it can’t go out today.

2) He is actually nervous; he is calling me frantically.

3) The bus was travelling fast; the passengers were getting scared.

4) I am running high fever; therefore, I didn’t go to office today.

5) We were already late; moreover, we lost our car’s keys.

6) This is ridiculous; he should have informed me before.

7) I forgot my book at home; I was in a hurry today.

8) Oliver was late for the assembly; however, he was permitted to attend.

9) She is going home today; she is very happy.

10) There is God; you just need to have faith in him.

Exercise/Worksheet/Activities on Combined Paragraph with Correct Punctuations:

Add appropriate punctuation marks in the paragraph written below-

Life of a army officer is filled with responsibilities he/she has personal social and moral obligations getting up before sunrise and going to bed on time becomes routine I know about their life as my grandfather was in army he used to get up at 6 in the morning go for a walk everyday keeping himself fit and fine my grandfathers life was an inspiration get up early work hard and sleep better he used to tell me that an officer should be able to ride a horse, repair a toy order from a French menu dance sing cook climb a mountain play with kids and operate a gun such gracious is the life of an officer that I would definitely be willing to do anything to be an officer wouldnt you

Answer-

Life of an army officer is filled with responsibilities; he/she has personal, social and moral obligations. Getting up before sunrise and going to bed on time, becomes routine. I know about their life, as my grandfather was in army. He used to get up at 6:00 in the morning, go for a walk everyday; keeping himself fit and fine. My grandfather’s life was an inspiration: getting up early, work hard and sleep better. He used to tell me that, an officer should be able to ride a horse, repair a toy, order from a French menu, dance, sing, cook, climb a mountain, play with kids, and operate a gun. Such gracious is the life of an officer that I would definitely be willing to do anything to be an officer, wouldn’t you?

Let’s end the Exercise with punctuating a famous quote by Marilyn Monroe-

Marilyn Monroe I am selfish impatient and a little insecure I make mistakes I am out of control and at times hard to handle but if you cant handle me at my worst then you sure as hell dont deserve me at my best

Answer-

Marilyn Monroe: “I’m selfish, impatient and a little secure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

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