The punctuation marks we will learn about today are… The full stop (.) The comma (,) The colon (:) The semi-colon (;) The apostrophe (‘)
The full stop The full stop (.) is used at the end of a sentence. A sentence is a group of words which makes complete sense. After a full stop, we need a capital letter. For example: John kicked the ball. The ball smashed a window. These are sentences. They make complete sense. John kicked The ball These are not sentences. They do not make complete sense.
The comma (Part 1) The comma (,) is used to separate the main clause of a sentence from the subordinate clauses. The main clause is the section of the sentence which makes complete sense by itself. The subordinate clauses do not make sense by themselves. They need a main clause to add to their meaning. For example, look at the sentence While the children were working quietly, Miss Jeffery was surfing the Internet. Miss Jeffery was surfing the Internet is the main clause. It makes complete sense by itself. While the children were working quietly is the subordinate clause. It does not make sense by itself. The main clause and the subordinate clause are separated by a comma. While the children were working quietly, Miss Jeffery was surfing the Internet.
The comma (Part 2) The comma (,) is also used to separate items in a list. The rules are as follows: In a list of objects, there is no need for a comma before the final object, because ‘and’ takes its place. For example: For lunch today I had: a cheese sandwich, a packet of crisps, a Fruit Shoot and an apple. There is no need to do this: For lunch today I had: a cheese sandwich, a packet of crisps, a Fruit Shoot, and an apple. The comma before ‘and’ is unnecessary.
The comma (Part 3) Rule Number 2: In a list of adjectives or adverbs, there is no need for a comma between the final adjective or adverb and the word it describes. NB: an adjective describes a noun (person, place or thing). For example: The beautiful girl. An adverb describes a verb (a doing word). For example: The car moved quickly. Using the comma in a list of adjectives: The old tramp was a smelly, dirty, unpleasant-looking man. Using the comma in a list of adverbs: The motorbike sped powerfully, dangerously, exhilaratingly along the road.
The colon (Part 1) The colon (:) is used to introduce a list. Remember the list of things I had for lunch? For lunch today I had: a cheese sandwich, a packet of crisps, a Fruit Shoot and an apple. Another example: There were a lot of things on Anna’s floor: clothes, books, plastic bags, shoes, papers and a dirty coffee mug she had forgotten to take downstairs.
The colon (Part 2) The colon is also used to add further explanation to a point previously made. For example: Schools nowadays are much improved from previously: corporal punishment no longer exists, and teachers generally make an effort to involve and engage students in lessons.
The semi-colon Many people get confused about the use of the semi-colon… But it’s not hard! It is used in two main ways.
Using the semi-colon (Part 1) One way to use the semi-colon is to separate items in a list in which each item is fairly long and complicated. Let me explain…
The semi-colon explained (Part 1) In the sentence ‘For lunch today I had: a cheese sandwich, a packet of crisps, a Fruit Shoot and an apple.’ semi-colons are not needed between the items. They are short and uncomplicated, and only require separating with commas. However, in the sentence ‘I did lots of things at the weekend: I went to the theatre with my friends; I visited my gran for Sunday lunch; I did a huge pile of marking; I created a PowerPoint presentation.’ semi-colons are used to separate the items because they are each quite lengthy. This makes the sentence clearer.
Using the semi-colon (Part 2) Another way to use the semi-colon is to separate clauses in a sentence which have equal weight. Let me explain:
The semi-colon explained (Part 2) Remember the explanation of main clauses and subordinate clauses? The main clause in a sentence makes complete sense by itself. The subordinate clauses do not make complete sense. They need the main clause to add to their meaning. Sometimes, a sentence does not have a main clause and a subordinate clause. Instead, it has two or more clauses which each have equal weight (as though the sentence had two or more main clauses). For example: Mavis was a student at the local school; she was a hard-working and pleasant girl.
The semi-colon explained (Part 3) Here’s that sentence again: Mavis was a Sixth Form student at the local school; she was a hard-working and pleasant girl. Notice that each of the clauses makes complete sense by itself. Each one could be expressed as a sentence: Mavis was a Sixth Form student at the local school. She was a hard-working and pleasant girl. To put it simply…
The semi-colon explained (Part 4) A semi-colon is an alternative to a full stop when you want to make two or more short sentences into one long one. Another example: ‘There had been no possibility of taking a walk that day. It had been raining steadily since dawn.’ becomes There had been no possibility of taking a walk that day; it had been raining steadily since dawn. You should always use a semi-colon and not acomma in this situation.
The apostrophe The apostrophe is another one that causes a lot of unnecessary problems… It has two main functions: To show possession and To show omission. Let me explain…
The apostrophe of possession: singular ‘owner’. The first use of the apostrophe is to show possession (when something belongs to someone). The apostrophe always goes after the last letter of the word describing the person to whom something belongs (the ‘owner’). If the ‘owner’ is singular, the apostrophe is followed by an ‘s’. The book of the boy becomes The boy’s book The nappy of the baby becomes The baby’s nappy The toys of the child becomes The child’s toys
The apostrophe of possession: plural ‘owner’ When the ‘owner’ in a sentence (the person or thing to whom something belongs) is plural AND ends in an s (boys, babies) there is NO ‘s’ after the apostrophe. For example: The books of the boys becomes The boys’ books The nappies of the babies becomes The babies’ nappies However, when the ‘owner’ in the sentence is plural but does not end in an s (children, sheep) there is an ‘s’ after the apostrophe. For example: The toys of the children becomes The children’s toys The fleeces of the sheep becomes The sheep’s fleeces
The apostrophe of omission The apostrophe is also used when letters are omitted (left out) from a word or words. The apostrophe always goes in the place where letters are missing. For example: have not becomes haven’t because the ‘o’ is omitted. Some more examples on the next slide…
Apostrophes of omission
Almost over… The function of punctuation is to make your writing clearer and easier to understand. A good way of checking whether you need a punctuation mark is to read your work out loud. If you pause for breath, it’s a good bet that you need to add a punctuation mark of some kind.
Hurrah! It’s the end! Yup… You now know all there is to know about punctuation! Thank you for reading FRANCISCA