The Basics Of Punctuation

Punctuation marks are the little symbols you see scattered among sentences.  While most of us are familiar with them it helps to learn their proper uses and names.

. Period: The period is considered a full stop.  It is the ending of a sentence. It can also be used to note an abbreviation of a word has occurred.

? Question Mark: A question mark is used at the end of a sentence to signify a direct question has been asked.  If a question is stated or otherwise known as an indirect question a period would be used instead of a question mark.

! Exclamation Point: An exclamation mark denotes strong feeling or emphasis.  It can be placed at the end of a sentence, in place of a question mark, and/or in the middle of a sentence with a quotation that would otherwise end with a comma.  Please note that exclamation points should be used sparingly and are not used to indicate yelling but rather yelling can be indicated by an exclamation point.

, Comma: There are a number of different ways to use a comma but generally a comma means a soft pause.  It is used to separate grammatical articles.  The many uses of the comma will be explained in detail inside the advanced grammar section.

: Colon: Colons are used to introduce a list, used between clauses when the second explains the first, or for emphasis.

; Semicolon: is a punctuation that acts like a comma but does not denote a full stop.  It is often used in place of a comma in lists that would include commas for said article in the list.  It is also used in between two independent clauses that have omitted coordinating conjunction such as “and, or, but etc.” It is also used in clauses linked with a transitional expression.

“” Quotation Marks: Generally quotation marks are used to indicate speech or something said word-for-word.  They have a number of other uses which will be discussed in the advanced grammar section.

… Ellipses: Ellipses are used to indicate an omission or an exaggerated pause.  When an ellipse is used in the middle of a sentence there should be a space between each period like this ” . . . ” however when used at the end of a quotation it should be written without spaces like this “…”

[] Square Brackets: In fiction, brackets are generally used for clarification or for emphasis.  There are other uses for brackets which we will discuss in the advanced grammar section.

– Hyphen: The hyphen is used to compound two words together. It can also be used to indicate a conflict or connection, a range of numbers, or a score between two competitors.   This will be discussed in more detail in the advanced grammar section.

– Dash: Is a longer hyphen generally used to indicate emphasis.  It can be used in place of a colon, comma, or parentheses.  It can also be used to indicate missing portions of words.  When used in this way it is not uncommon to use multiple Dashes. Two dashes generally indicates a portion of the word was missing while three dashes indicate the entire word is missing and should be enclosed by commas.

~ Tilde: In the English language it can mean an approximation between numbers.  It is also used after a quotation from an author.  Stylistically a tilde can mark the end of a section in a chapter or a change in scene.

‘ Apostrophe:  The apostrophe is used for contractions, plurals, and possessives.  This will be further explained in the advanced grammar section.

( ) Parentheses: Are used to provide additional information but cannot be inherent to a sentences grammatical structure. If the information enclosed in the sentence makes sense then no punctuation is needed however if the sentence does not make sense the punctuation must be changed.  We will be going into this in more detail in the advanced grammar section.

/ Slash: Can be used to indicate “and”, “or”, “per”, “along with being”, “combined with”, and “also used as.” It can also be used to indicate a connection or conflict, or in a two-year span.

Hopefully, this gives you a basic understanding of punctuation marks.  In the advanced grammar section, I will be going into each punctuation mark in full detail covering as much as I can about each one.  This will include stylistic choices and other more obscure uses of each.

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