|Using Punctuation Marks|
Punctuation is the use of standard marks and signs in writing to separate words into sentences, clauses, and phrases in order to clarify meaning. The marks or signs are called punctuation marks. Punctuation marks are signals to readers. When you speak, you can pause, stop, or change your tone of voice to make your meaning clear. You cannot do this when you write. When writing, you must use punctuation marks such as commas and question marks to make your meaning clear.
The use of punctuation marks can be very complex. Each punctuation mark can be used in many ways. Here are the punctuation marks that are most commonly used when writing and the most typical way or ways they are used.
- Use a period at the end of a declarative sentence (a sentence which states an idea).
- Use a period to end an abbreviation.
Question Mark (?)
- Use a question mark at the end of an interrogative sentence (a sentence which asks a question).
- Use a comma to separate three or more items in a series.
- Use a comma to separate independent clauses in a sentence.
- Use a comma after introductory words or phrases in a sentence.
- Use a comma to set off dates and addresses.
- Use a semicolon when two independent clauses in a sentence are not connected by a conjunction (such as "and").
- Use a semicolon between independent clauses in a sentence that are connected by any of the following transitional words or phrases: accordingly, consequently, for example, for instance, furthermore, however, instead, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, and therefore.
- Use a semicolon when the items in a series of items contain commas.
- Use a colon before a list that is preceded by a complete independent clause. Some form of the word "follow" is often used in such a case.
- Use a colon to divide hours from minutes.
Exclamation Point (!) (sometimes called an Exclamation Mark)
- Use an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence to show strong emotion.
- Use an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence for emphasis.
- Use an exclamation mark after an interjection at the start of a sentence (an interjection is a word used to express strong feeling or sudden emotion).
- Use an apostrophe to indicate a missing letter or letters in a contraction.
- Use an apostrophe plus the letter "s" to show possession.
Use punctuation marks to make the meaning of what you write as clear as possible.