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Punctuation - Part 2

Punctuation - Part 2

 

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Punctuation - 2

 

 

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn more about punctuation. In a previous lesson, we learned how to use "periods" which are also called "full stops", "exclamation points", "question marks", and "commas.". In this lesson, we will learn the basic usage of other important "punctuation marks".

A common punctuation mark is the "semicolon". In this lesson we will learn how to use this mark.

Here is a semicolon:  ";"

We use a semicolon between two sentences when the conjunction is deleted.  In this sentence, a conjunction such as "and" or "so" could have been used between the first sentence: "Today is Saturday." and the second sentence: "We are staying home.""Tomorrow is Saturday; we are staying home."


We learned in a previous lesson that we use a comma to separate items in a series. To avoid confusion, we use a semicolon to separate items in a series when the items themselves contain commas. In this example, the city/state combinations are "St. Paul", a city, "Minnesota", the state in which St. Paul is located; "Omaha", a city in the state of "Nebraska", and "St. Louis", which is a city in the state of "Missouri". Since city/state combinations are separated by commas, themselves, the combinations are separated from each other by semicolons.
"We will visit St Paul, Minnesota; Omaha, Nebraska, and St. Louis, Missouri."

Another important "punctuation mark" is the "colon". In this lesson, we will learn how to use this mark.

Here is a colon: ":"

We use a colon after a complete sentence which introduces a list of items. In this example, the complete sentence "I need these things from the store." introduces the list "tuna, a loaf of bread, mayonnaise".
"I need these things from the store: tuna, a loaf of bread, mayonnaise."

We use a colon after the greeting in a business letter. In this letter, the greeting is "Dear Mr. Johnson".
"Dear Mr. Johnson:"

Another set of punctuation marks are "quotation marks". A "quotation" is something that someone says.

Here are quotation marks:  "  "  "  "

We use quotation marks to set off a direction quotation. Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks.

We teach little children that quotation marks are like fences, and that since commas and periods are very small, they need to stay inside the fences. While we are not little children, it is good way to remember that these little marks stay inside the borders of the quotation marks.

Other marks stay inside the quotation marks if they are part of the directly quoted material. They go outside the quotation marks if they are not part of the directly quoted material.
For example:

David said, "I stopped at the museum."  In this sentence, the "period" or "full stop" at the end of the sentence goes inside the quotation marks because periods always go inside the quotation marks, but also because the period is the end mark of David's sentence.

Jennifer asked, "Did you stop at the museum?" In this question, the question mark is part of the direct quotation, so it goes inside the quotation mark.
Did David say, "I went to the museum"? " In this case, the question mark is not inside the quotation marks, because the question is not the quotation.

Another set of punctuation marks are "parentheses". Parentheses are used to enclose something that is written as a clarification or as an aside.

Here are parentheses"  "(  )"

Here is an example of how parentheses are used to enclose something that is used as clarification. In this sentence, the parenthetical clarification shows in numerals what the writing said in words.

"The rent will be nine-hundred fifty dollars ($950) a month."

Here is an example of the parenthetical statement as it is used as an aside. In this example, the phrase "nobody told her the visitors were late" is an aside, which is not part of the normal flow of the sentence.
"Jennifer waited at the airport (nobody told her the visitors were late) for five hours."

Parentheses are sometimes used to enclose numbers or letters in a listing. In this example, the three tasks – "water my flowers", "pick up my newspaper", and "pick up the mail" are listed in order by numbers encased in parentheses.
"While I am gone, please (1) water my flowers; (2) pick up my newspaper; (3) pick up the mail."

Another common punctuation mark is the "apostrophe". In previous lessons, we have learned of its use in contractions and to show possession.

Here is an apostrophe:  " ' "

We use the apostrophe to show possession. In this sentence, we use the  " 's " after the name "David" to show that chocolate cake is David's favorite dessert.

"David's favorite dessert is chocolate cake."
In the following sentence, we use the  " 's " after "boy" to show that the "dog" belongs to the "boy".

"The boy's dog is brown."

In the following sentence, the apostrophe after the word "girls" signals that there are two or more girls, and that the papers belong to them.
"The girls' papers are on the table."

Another common punctuation mark is a "hyphen".

Here is a hyphen:  " - "

We use a hyphen when we spell out the numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine.
For example, "There will be twenty-two people at the party."

We use a hyphen when we spell out the names of fractions. In this sentence, the fraction is 1/3, "one-third".

More than one-third of the workers in David's office took no vacation last year.

Some two-or-three-part words are hyphenated. Most words that consist of two main words with a little word in the middle are hyphenated. In this sentence, the word "mother-in-law" is hyphenated. Two part words are often hyphenated if they would have a different meaning without the hyphen. If you are not sure whether or not to hyphenate a word, look it up in the dictionary.
"David's mother-in-law is planning to visit next month."

We generally hyphenate a two-word adjective before a noun when they express a single idea. In this example, the adjective "nice-looking" expresses one idea – that the car looks nice.
"That's a nice-looking car."

We always use a hyphen with the prefix "ex". In this sentence,the word is "ex-girlfriend." Similar words would be "ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-mother-in-law", and "ex-boss".
"David's ex-girlfriend was in town last week."

With the exception of the words "selfish" and "selfless", we always use a hyphen with words which begin with the prefix "self". In the sentence, the word is "self-confident".  Similarly-formed words are "self-assured" and "self-respect".
"David is a very self-confident man."

Another type of punctuation mark is the "dash". There are two kinds of dashes – the "en dash" and the "em dash".
The "en-dash" is a little bit longer than the "hyphen".

Here is an "en-dash"  "  –  "

The "en-dash" is used between years or other items when the word "to" could be used. In this sentence, it signifies the time beginning in the year 2007 and ending in the year 2009.
"David and Jennifer lived in Minnesota from 2007–2009."

The "em-dash" is a longer dash.

Here is the "em-dash" " –– "

It signifies a change in the train of thought in a sentence or an interruption in the thought of the sentence. In this sentence, the phrase "a used car" is set off by dashes – which means that this is an interruption in the normal flow of the sentence.

"David bought acar––a used car––in 2009.

You have now learned the most common uses of the punctuation marks used in English. Using punctuation correctly will help other people understand your writing. Practice punctuation when you write in English!