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Punctuation

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  • 1. Punctuation Lengua Inglesa I Universidad Nacional de La Pampa Facultad de Ciencias Humanas Dpto. de Lenguas Extranjeras
  • 2. The Period (.) (known as FULL STOP in British English)
    • It is used to indicate the natural pause in speaking; the end of a balanced,
    • well constructed and sentence.
    • It is used:
    • At the end of declarative sentences. E.g.: She went to Italy in 2004. “Hello.”
    • At the end of an indirect question. E.g.: He asked me to help him.
    • At the end of imperative sentences. E.g.: “Stop.”
    • After abbreviations. E.g.: I have PE lessons from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
    • NOTE : Dr and Mr and Mrs and Ms, and most abbreviations taken from the first capital letters such as MA, PhD, CNN do not take a full stop.
  • 3. The Colon (:)
    • Its main use is to tell the reader to “look for what comes next.” It is followed by
    • followed by two blank typed spaces.
    • It is used:
    • To separate two sentences of which the second explains more fully the
    • meaning of the first. It often means the same as “that is to say”.
    • E.g.: Richard’s work is unsatisfactory: his answers are thoughtless, his spelling is careless, and his writing is bad.
    • It may also take the place of a conjunction introducing a clause of reason.
    • E.g.: Thompson isn’t going to join our firm: we couldn’t offer him a big enough salary.
    • (: = because)
    • To introduce a number of items in a list. Eg: The exchange students came
    • from many countries: Thailand, Japan, Spain, Italy and Mexico.
    • NOTE : Do not use a colon if the list immediately follows a verb or a preposition.
    • To introduce a quotation. Eg: Shakespeare said: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”
  • 4. The Semi-Colon (;)
    • The uses of the semicolon are more related to the use of the comma than to the
    • use of the colon. The semicolon is followed by one blank space.
    • It is used:
    • To connect two independent clauses not joined by and, but, or, not, for, yet .
    • (Independent clauses have subject and verbs).
    • E.g.: We presented her eight choices; she rejected them all. We presented her eight choices and she rejected them all.
    • To connect independent clauses when there are commas within either clause.
    • This makes it easier for the reader to know where the clauses begin and end, and,
    • therefore, easier to read the material.
    • E.g.: It was a beautiful day; however, I was too tired to go out.
  • 5.
    • Also with words like therefore, nevertheless, besides, also, furthermore,
    • accordingly, moreover, thus, otherwise .
    • E.g.: He has passed all his examinations; consequently, we must award him a degree.
    • To connect items in a series when the items contain commas. Again, it is a
    • matter of ease of reading.
    • E.g.: We visited Waterbury, Connecticut; Chattanooga, Tennessee; El Paso, Texas; and Kansas City, Kansas.
    • NOTE : Do not use it after salutation in a letter, between independent and
    • dependent clause, or before a direct quotation.
  • 6. The Comma (,)
    • The comma is the most frequently used punctuation mark and many uses.
    • It is used:
    • To record a list of things.
    • E.g.: At the party we had cakes, ices, jellies, and lemonade.
    • To separate co-ordinate adjectives modifying the same noun.
    • E.g.: She has mischievous, laughing brown eyes.
    • To mark off direct speech. E.g.: “Tell me,” I said, “how you know all that.”
    • To mark off sentences or clauses where the pause is needed. This is
    • almost always the case when an adverb clause precedes a principal one.
    • E.g.: Although it was foggy, we played the match.
    • To set off a question at the end of a statement.
    • E.g.: You’re coming, aren’t you?
    • To mark off words used in addressing a person.
    • E.g.: George, I hope you and Mary can come to the party.
  • 7.
    • To mark off words or phrases like therefore , however ( not used when it means “it
    • doesn’t matter”: However hard he tries, he won’t succeed. ) of course , for instance .
    • E.g.: You know, of course, the way to Paris.
    • To mark off phrases containing a participle when a pause is required in reading.
    • E.g.: George, seeing his brother was hurt, ran to help him.
    • To set off non-restrictive phrases or clauses form the rest of the sentence. A non-
    • restrictive clause or phrase is one not essential to the meaning of the sentence.
    • E.g.: My gun, which is now on the mantelpiece, has not been used for years.
    • In dates, parts of address, geographical expressions.
    • After words of direct address. E.g.: Yes, … . No, … .
    • NOTE : Do not use comma:
    • Between subject and verb, verb and complement, preposition and object, noun and adjective.
    • Before the first member in a series.
    • After the last member in a series.
    • To set off restrictive modifiers.
  • 8. The Question Mark (?)
    • It is used at the end of a direct question, never at the end of a direct one. Between parenthesis, it indicates the author’s doubt or uncertainty about the material immediately preceding.
    • E.g.:
    • We believe there were three editions altogether: 1702, 1705? And 1710.
    • In a long interrogation sentence, question marks after each of the
    • elements provide greater emphasis.
    • E.g.:
    • If this law is accepted, what is the average man to do about his job? His
    • family? his home? his retirement?
  • 9. The Exclamation Mark (!)
    • It is used after an interjection, and exclamatory sentence, or an expression of great feeling.
    • E.g.: Hello! I didn’t expect to you see you.
    • There goes our train! What a wonderful day it was!
    • Do not use it after a word, phrase or sentence to indicate irony or humour.
    • E.g: Let the words speak for themselves.
  • 10. The Hyphens (-)
    • There are four main areas of difficulty with hyphens: adjective phrases, with certain
    • prefixes and suffixes, for clarity, and transitional phrases.
    • 1. Adjective phrases. When two (or more) words are combined to describe a
    • noun, they are hyphenated preceding he noun. However, when the same phrases
    • are in other positions in the sentence, then are not hyphenated.
    • E.g.: 19-year-old wine but wine is 19 years old
    • BUT if one of the words is an adverb ending –ly, it is not hyphenated: beautifully
    • made dress.
    • 2. Prefixes and suffixes. The prefixes self-, all-, ex (meaning former) and the
    • suffix -elect are always hyphenated. All prefixes are hyphenated before proper
    • nouns or adjectives.
    • E.g.: self-selected all-star game ex-president
  • 11.
    • 3. Clarity. When there can be confusion of meaning, sometimes a hyphen can
    • add clarity. This is especially true if the prefix ends with the same letter as the word
    • begins with.
    • E.g.: co-operative re-form (form again)
    • 4. Transitional phrases. When new concepts enter the language as compound
    • (two-word) nouns, they continue to be spelled as separate words for many
    • years until they become thought of as a single entity. Originally two originally
    • popular games were spelled base and basket ball. As the terms become more and
    • more familiar, they are first hyphenated (base-ball / basket-ball) and later spelled as
    • a single word (baseball / basketball). It is a regular process in English, but not all
    • words progress at the same rate: so the only way to be sure about words like this is
    • to look them up in a dictionary of current vintage.
  • 12. The Dash (-)
    • It is used to indicate:
    • An afterthought.
    • E.g.: I spoke to Mary – you know, Harry’s wife – and told her what you said.
    • An unexpected turn in a sentence.
    • E.g.: It is – how shall I say it? – such a useless book… .
  • 13. Quotation Marks (“ ”)
    • They are used:
    • To enclose direct speech.
    • E.g.: I said, “I have only spoken to him on one occasion.”
    • To enclose words spoken of as words, words used in special senses, or
    • words emphasised.
    • E.g.: Some people consider that all such words as “good”, “bad”, “beautiful”, “ugly” only indicate one’s emotional reactions towards actions or things.
    • To mark the titles of book chapters, poems, songs, and short stories.
    • To enclose slang, technical or unusual term, when it is used n a context
    • which it is not usually found, or around a word to which the writer wishes to draw
    • particular attention.
    • E.g.: Next, the clay pot had to be “fired”. He called himself a “gentleman,” but you would never have thought so from the way he behaved.
  • 14.
    • NOTE : Book titles, newspaper names, and the names of ships are underlines or set
    • in italics. If there are quotation marks the quoted material, use single marks.
    • E.g.: Whitney Huston said, “I think I’ll sing ‘ The National Anthem. ’ ”
    • If a quotation is more than three lines long, it should be single spaced and indented on both the right and left margins.
  • 15. CATIPAL LETTERS
    • They are used:
    • For the beginning of a sentence.
    • For the name of God, Christ, Trinity, Bible, etc.
    • For titles of people, books, plays, etc.
    • E.g.: Elizabeth the second, Alfred the Great, a Tale of Two Cities
    • For salutations and forms of address in letters
    • E.g.: Dr.; Miss; Dear Sir; Yours faithfully; Sincerely
    • For personification, generally in poetry
    • E.g.: “O wild West Wind…”
    • For months, days, etc.
  • 16. The Apostrophe ( ’ )
    • To show the possessive case. E.g.: My brother’s house.
    • To show the omission of a letter or letters. E.g.: I don’t like it.
    • FINAL NOTE:
    • Commas and periods are always placed inside closing quotation marks.
    • E.g.: “John,” said Dad, “you can come in now.”
    • Semicolons and colons are placed outside closing quotation marks.
    • E.g.: The teacher said these authors are “de rigeur”: Faulkner,
    • Fitzgerald, and London.”
    • Questions marks, exclamation marks, and parentheses are inside if they are part of the quoted material; otherwise, they are outside.
    • E.g.: “Are you ready?” asked Mom.
    • How on earth could he say such a word as “****”?”

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