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Punctuation - Part 1

Punctuation - Part 1

 

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Punctuation - 1

 

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn the names of the "punctuation marks" and the basic rules for using them. The purpose of punctuation was first to assist people who were reading aloud; the "punctuation marks" were intended to signify pauses that could be silently counted out by the speaker.

A "comma" – "," - was meant to signify a count of 1; a "semicolon" – ";" - was meant to indicate a count of 2; a "colon" –";" - was a count of 3; and a "period" -"." -was a count of 4.

This short history of punctuation marks gives us some idea of why we punctuate at all; it also gives us an idea of how each of these marks operates.

A "period", called a "full stop" in British English, is by far the most common punctuation mark used to signal the end of a sentence. A "period" marks the end of a statement. But the "period" is not the only way to end a sentence. There are three ways to end a sentence: a "period", an "exclamation point", and a "question mark".

Let us take a look at each "punctuation mark" and its name or names:

This is a "period" or "full stop": " . "

This is a "question mark: " ? "

This is an exclamation point: " ! "

Let us take a look at the three ways of ending a sentence with these three punctuation marks:

Here is a statement which ends with a "period" or "full stop".

"The house is big."

Here is a question which ends with a "question mark".

"Is the house big?"

Here are an interjection and a sentence. Each one ends with an "exclamation point". The "exclamation point" expresses strong emotion. In this case, it signals amazement at the size of the house.

"Wow! The house is big!"

Another very common "punctuation mark" is a "comma".

Here is a comma: ","

The comma is used in many ways. Let us look at the main ways in which a comma is used.

We use a comma before a conjunction which joins two clauses. In this sentence, we see that the first clause is "Jennifer is staying home".

The conjunction is "but". The second clause is "David is going to a football game". The two clauses are joined by the conjunction "but". We place the comma before the conjunction "but".

"Jennifer is staying home, but David is going to a football game."
We use a comma to separate items in a series of three or more words or phrases. In this sentence, the items are "tuna", "a loaf of bread", and "some mayonnaise".

We use a comma after each item in the series.
"Jennifer bought tuna, a loaf of bread, and some mayonnaise."

We use a comma to separate an introductory phrase or clause from the main part of a sentence. In this sentence, the "if" – clause is the introductory part of the sentence. The main part of the sentence is "He might put a bed in his office.".

We put a comma after the initial clause "If David has to work late very night,"."If David has to work late every night, he might put a bed in his office."

And we use a comma to set off interruptions – words or phrases that interrupt the main flow of the sentence. In this sentence, we set off the phrase "and I mean always" by putting commas before and after it, because it is really an example of the speaker interrupting the flow of the sentence with a comment."I have always, and I mean always, enjoyed your parties."

In addition, we use a comma between two adjectives if the word "and" could logically be put between them. In this sentence, we could logically write "Jennifer is a good and careful cook.". So we can delete the word "and" and insert a comma instead." Jennifer is a good, careful cook."

We use a comma to separate the day of the month from the year. When we use a date in a sentence, we put a comma after the year as well. In this sentence, the month is "June", the day is "1", and the year is "2010".

"The baby was born on June 1, 2010, in San Francisco."
We use a comma to separate the name of the city from the name of the state in which it is located. We also use a comma to separate the name of the state from the remainder of the sentence. In this sentence, the name of the city is "San Francisco". The name of the state in which" San Francisco" is located is "California".

"The family has lived in San Francisco, California, since 2009."
We use a comma to introduce a quotation. In this sentence, the direct quotation is "I am going to play football." We introduce the quotation by saying "David said".
"David said, "I am going to play football."

We use a comma between the main part of a sentence and a tag question. In this sentence, the main part of the sentence is "Tomorrow is Saturday". The tag question is "isn't it?".
"Tomorrow is Saturday, isn't it?"

Great! You have learned the main punctuation marks and their basic usage. In an upcoming lesson, we will cover more punctuation marks and how they are used.