Friday, 2 December 2011

Grammar note on Punctuation

Punctuation marks on a page are similar to signs on a road. They guide you and direct you.

1. A period ( . ) ends a declarative or imperative sentence.

  • I live in Pasadena. 
  •  They don’t live in Pasadena.
  • Listen to me. Don’t drink and drive.
  •  Please come here. Eat your vegetables.
2. A question mark ( ? ) ends an interrogative sentence.
  • Do you live in Pasadena? 
  •  Don’t you like chocolate ice cream?
3. An exclamation mark ( ! ) ends an exclamatory sentence (a sentence that contains a lot of emotion).
  • Help! 
  •  Stop! 
  •  Don’t call me again!
4. A comma ( , ) separates items in a list.
  • I like coffee, soda, milk, and tea.
  • Sara, Maria, Robert and Steven will eat lunch.
5. A semicolon separates( ; ) equal parts of a sentence.
  • Mary is at home; Bob is at school.
  • Give me a hamburger, with onions and lettuce; a coke, with a straw; and fries, with ketchup.
6. A colon ( : ) usually precedes a list.
  • Bring these things with you: a book, a pencil, and a dictionary.
7. A dash ( – ) usually indicates a break in thought.
  • I’ll have a hot dog with mustard – no, make that ketchup.
8. A hyphen ( - ) separates syllables to make a word easier to read.
  • co-ordinate re-elect pray-er
  • A hyphen also separates syllables when it’s necessary to continue a word on the follow-ing line.
9. Parentheses ( ) or a pair of dashes contain extra information.
  • John (my brother) is coming to the party.
  • John – my brother – is coming to the party.
10. An ellipsis (...) shows that information is missing or deleted.
  • “To be or not...the question.” (“To be or not to be. That is the question.”)
11. Quotation marks (“ ”) enclose the exact words of a person.
  • Maria said, “Where are the keys?”
12. An apostrophe ( ’ ) is a substitute for a letter or letters (in a contraction).
  • isn’t = is not 
  •  can’t = cannot 
  •  don’t = do not 
  •  I’ll = I will 
  •  I’m = I am 
  •  He’s sick. = He is sick.
  • Bob’s rich. = Bob is rich. 
  •  What’s new? = What is new?
  • They’ve worked. = They have worked.
  • ’99 = 1999 
An apostrophe also shows possession.
  • This is Sara’s book. (Don’t say: This is the book of Sara.) 
14. Begin all sentences with a capital letter (i.e., capitalize the first word in all sentences) and end all sentences with a punctuation mark. =
  • Capitalize the first word in a sentence and finish the sentence with a punctuation mark.


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