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The Correct Punctuation

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The Correct Punctuation

Correct punctuation, like spelling and word order, is essential part of the properly constructed English sentence. It may be said that, as an integral part of the written form of the language, punctuation is a refection of the pauses and of the rising and falling intonation patterns of the spoken language.

Hence, reading of English is affected by sentence punctuation; each mark of punctuation signals the nature of the pauses and the sentence stress that is necessary for comprehension of the full meaning of the sentence.

As sentences become the paragraphs of a composition, the continuing effect of good sentence punctuation is more clearly evident.

1. Stop or Period (.)

This marks the end of a positive or negative statement, the end of a complete thought, as in :
  • Their little son is learning to walk.
  • We have not found out the solution.

It is often used to mark the end of initials or abbreviation; sometimes it is optimal, as in :
  • P.M. and A.M.
  • M.A. or MA (the degree Master of Art)

2. Question Mark (?)

As its name suggests, question mark functions mainly to signal that a message or an utterance is in a direct question form. For examples :
  • What do you think about the term love at the first sight?
  • Is pink your favorite color?

Although rarely, it can also be used to show doubt, to show something we are unsure about, as in :
  • In December 1980 (?), John Lennon was shot dead.
  • Seven years ago (?), my friend found a message in a bottle on the beach.

3. Comma (,)

Comma is use to separate a series of items from the same category, such as nouns, phrases, and clauses, as in :
  • We are looking forward to buying shirts, shoes, and trousers.
  • Swimming, cooking, sewing, and dancing are his hobbies.

A comma is normally requires to separate a transitional expression in a sentence, as in :
  • By the way, what do you think about his girlfriend?
  • A few girls, however, appear not to like her much.

A comma is used after a subordinate (dependent) clause that precedes a superordinate (independent) clause, as in :
  • If I had know your better, I would not have misunderstood you.
  • When the music stopped, the room became quiet.

To introduce a verb phrase beginning with to infinitive, reduced clause or verbless clause, as in :
  • To succeed in studies, we have to be studious.
  • Listening to her favorite song, she tried to take everything easy.

To add non-defining phrase or clause or a comment clause to a sentence, as in :
  • Barrack Obama, who came to Brazil last year, is the president of United States.
  • Jakarta Post, an English newspaper, presents its reader with well-written articles.
  • You should, I suggest, talk to her personally.

To introduce adverbs of frequency, place and time at the beginning of a sentence, as in :
  • Frequently, my friends and I go to the cinema together.
  • In the kitchen, there are three stoves and two kettles.
  • On December the twenty-ninth 1999, he celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday.

4. Exclamation Mark (!)

Exclamation mark is used to show strong emphases, as in :
  • Mind your step!
  • Don't cheat!
  • What a careless boy he is!

5. Quotation Marks or Inverted Commas (" ") or (' ')

It is used to mark quotation or others' speech, as in :
  • "I don't care," he shouted angrily.
  • "To get further details," the advertisement read, "contact the service department, telephone 55002."

To give more attention to a certain word or term. They can also be used to show that a word in certain context has a particular meaning, a meaning that is different from the common one. The single-quotation mark pair is the more common, as in :
  • The word 'ambitious' usually carries a negative meaning in Indonesia.
  • How 'clever' you are to trust her!

6. Semi Colon (;)

This bridges sentences which convey 'closely connected' message, as in :
  • The children are not tired; they are in fact bored.
  • Don't be impolite; talk to her patiently.

To replace a comma if it's already used in a list of item, as in :
  • Swam can fly, swim, and dive; ducks can also swim and dive.
  • Indonesia, India, and Iran are situated in Asia; Sudan, Nigeria, and Namibia in Africa.

7. Colon (:)

To introduce a long list or series of things. The colon is often preceded by the phrase in the following, as follows, or as in, to mention three examples, as in :

1. The members of Trio Libels are as follows : Ronni, Yanni, and Edwin.
2. In Indonesia, the government recognizes five officials, religions, namely :
  • Islam
  • Catholicism
  • Protestantism
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism

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