Punctuation

These are a series of symbols which indicate how sentences are paused or divided up into parts which aid in making its meaning clear. It is important that rudimentary punctuation is in evidence in all pieces of work - that is a capital letter at the start of a sentence and a full stop at the end to indicate its finish. There are a number of aspects of punctuation which can be used to subdivide sentences to make them easier for readers to understand:

Comma

comma

Indicates subdivisions within a sentence

Semicolon

semi-colon

This is a mark indicates the need for a greater pause than given by a comma but not as much as a full stop. It can be used to divide lists or to separate two closely linked independent clauses.

Colon

colon

It has a number of uses: it is used as a means to introduce explanations for that which occurs before the colon, as an introduction to a list or as a prelude to using a quote.

Inverted Commas

inverted-commas

Often referred to as Quotation Marks which are used to cite the words of others directly within your own writing: when quoting directly it is vital that the exact words as they were written by the author are used.  If words are left out this is signalled through the use of an ellipsis (three dots in a row):

ellipsis

When words are added the convention is to employ square brackets [ ]:

square-brackets

Inverted commas can also be used to place emphasis on particular words or phrases - for example “This illustrates the ‘great’ in Great Britain.”

Brackets     

brackets         

Used to indicate an aside or addition to the main sentence in which it is situated (they go around the addition). If you omit the words in brackets the sentence should still make sense.

Dash  

dash

A break containing information to which you wish to draw attention – similar to brackets

Hyphen

dash

Provides a link between words which contain two parts, for example ‘co-ordinate’.

Apostrophe

apostrophe

Used in order to show that something belongs to someone such as Anthony’s car or to show where letters have been left out, for example “we’re going somewhere.”

Exclamation Mark      

exclamation-mark

This expresses strong feelings such as surprise, shock, disbelief or horror! This type of punctuation is rarely utilised in essay writing.

Question Mark           

question-mark

This used when a writer is posing a direct question or to illustrate where there is a degree of uncertainty about something such as the date of birth or death of an historical figure.

It is vital that punctuation is used correctly making the proof reading of work important. If you are unsure about the use of particular punctuation marks, read the sentence aloud – you will usually be able to tell if it is correct just by the way that it sounds.

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