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Punctuate with Perfection: Master punctuation so you can produce clearer, more p

Anthony Kelleher is a writer and teacher of both English and English as a second language. He is the founder of the SirEnglish.com website. His other works include 10 Rules for Achieving English Fluency and, most recently, Launch Your English.

Head over to www.SirEnglish.com for lots of fantastic free resources for enhancing your English.

Punctuate with Perfection

By Anthony Kelleher BA Linguistics & TESOL

Text copyright © 2016 Anthony Kelleher

All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents

Introduction

How to use this book

The Period (Full Stop)

The Question Mark

The Exclamation Mark

Other Things to Note

The Comma

The Listing Comma

The Joining Comma

The Gapping Comma

Bracketing Commas

The Colon

The Semicolon

The Colon and the Semicolon Clarified

The Apostrophe

Contractions

Possessives

The Hyphen

The Dash

Abbreviations

Quotation Marks

Scare Quotes

Parentheses

How to Master Punctuation

  • Introduction*

First of all, I must congratulate you for wanting to improve your punctuation and become a better writer in English. Punctuation matters, as it can mean the difference between someone thinking, “Wow! This work is extremely polished and professional” to someone thinking, “This is really sloppy work.”

To judge people based purely on punctuation is wrong, but the fact is that it happens. When we read a book, an article, or a blog post with spelling and punctuation errors, this sticks in our mind and affects how we receive the message. Your writing and your message might be exceptional, but poor punctuation won’t allow that to shine.

On the other hand, writing without any errors in spelling and punctuation allows us to fully absorb the message that the writer intended. This is the key to punctuation: it shouldn’t draw attention to itself; it shouldn’t be used just for the sake of it. Punctuation should aid comprehension of the writer’s message, but do no more. It’s the unsung hero of writing.

Perhaps you are a professional writer or you enjoy writing as a hobby. Maybe you are a student who writes a lot of essays. Or perhaps you are simply interested in mastering punctuation to enhance your English skills. Whatever your situation, your goal is the same: to master punctuation and be able to use it effectively. This is exactly what you are going to learn in this book.

Some people view punctuation as the dull part of writing and learning English. I believe punctuation is actually quite fascinating. It’s all around us, everywhere we look, in books, on road signs, in magazines, in instruction manuals, in restaurant menus, etc. Yet we never really think about it until we notice a glaring mistake or when we want to consciously improve in this area.

Obviously you want to improve, and that’s exactly what this book will help you to do. I wrote this book in as casual a way as possible, and everything is explained in a clear, concise manner. There are lots of examples for you to look at and study, and exercises are provided at the end of each section.

Join me on the journey of mastering punctuation, and you’ll soon realize that punctuation can be as interesting as any other part of the English language.

How to use this book

This book starts with some simple, common punctuation marks, such as the period (or full stop), the question mark, and the exclamation mark. It then progresses onto more challenging and commonly misused marks, like commas, apostrophes, hyphens, dashes, and parentheses.

Feel free to skip ahead to the more challenging punctuation, but I suggest you read from beginning to end so you have a thorough and precise understanding of every punctuation mark covered.

There are exercises at the end of most sections to help you internalize the uses of the punctuation marks. Answers are also provided underneath the exercises, so be sure to avoid looking at them before you complete the tasks.

To aid learning, lots of example sentences are used. Any incorrect sentences that are used are marked with an asterisk ([***]) so you know they are badly punctuated. All examples are italicized so that they are easily distinguishable from the main text.

Some punctuation marks differ slightly in their usage between the UK and the USA. I have noted any major differences in this book, so wherever you are from you can choose the appropriate style for you.

The Period (Full Stop)

No punctuation book would be complete without starting with the good old period (or full stop as it is known in some countries).

The period (.) is one of the most commonly used punctuation marks and causes people very few problems. The period is primarily used to mark the end of a sentence. Here are some examples:

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

While I sometimes enjoy eating meat, I prefer vegetables.

I need just two things from the supermarket: some ice cream and a spoon to eat it with.

Simple enough, right? You would think that it’s very difficult to make a mistake with a period, but upon reading hundreds of online blogs, Facebook posts and sometimes even newspaper articles, you might be surprised to know that it can be used incorrectly. Here is one typical example of incorrect usage:

* My friend just got a tattoo of a dragon on his back, John wants one too.

What is wrong with the above sentence? The problem is that a comma is separating the two statements, when in fact this is not sufficient. What’s needed instead is a period.

My friend just got a tattoo of a dragon on his back. John wants one too.

This is much better, because both of the statements now have their own period. You could also simply use the word and in place of the period.

My friend just got a tattoo of a dragon on his back, and John wants one too.

Here are some other examples of similar punctuation errors where a period or a connecting word is needed, but is omitted in place of a comma:

* Google is coming under fire for not paying sufficient taxes in certain countries, the UK is one country which is reviewing the company.

* Martin has been dating Mary for 10 years, they can’t be persuaded to marry!

* The British Empire was at its heyday in the early 20th century, later on it was broken up.

* Smartphones sales are continuing to surge year on year, standalone MP3 players are disappearing.

In all these examples, the comma should be replaced with either a period or a connecting word. For example:

Google is coming under fire for not paying sufficient taxes in certain countries, and the UK is one country which is reviewing the company.

Martin has been dating Mary for 10 years. They can’t be persuaded to marry!

The British Empire was at its heyday in the early 20th century, but later on it was broken up.

Smartphones sales are continuing to surge year on year, while standalone MP3 players are disappearing.

The period (full stop) summarized:

Use a period at the end of a statement.

Instead of connecting two statements with a comma, use a period or a suitable connecting word.

The Question Mark

The question mark ([*?*]) is another fairly straightforward punctuation mark. We use questions marks at the end of sentences which are direct questions. Here are a few examples:

Where did you get that tattoo done?

Are Martin and Mary getting married?

Who knows where I put my keys?

What is the capital of Iceland?

How do you pronounce that?

Similarly, when we quote someone who used a direct question, we also use a question mark.

Where did you get that tattoo done?” asked Patrick.

Jane asked, “Who knows where I put my keys?”

Which one of you students drew this picture of me on the board?” shouted the teacher.

However, if you construct the above sentences differently by using an indirect question, no question mark used.

Patrick asked me where I got my tattoo done.

Jane asked if anyone knew where she put her keys.

The teacher shouted at us and asked which one of the students drew the picture of him on the board.

The question mark summarized:

Use a question mark to mark a direct question.

Use a period at the end of an indirect question, not a question mark.

The Exclamation Mark

The exclamation mark (!) is an interesting punctuation mark in that people use it in many ways: to show surprise, to show anger, to show happiness, and to show sarcasm. This punctuation mark should be used at the end of a sentence which expresses an intensely strong feeling. Look at these examples:

Just look at those two cars go!

Oh my god!

Martin, of course I will marry you!

Thank you so much!

Mike Tyson has been knocked out cold!

These are classic examples of how exclamation marks are used. The above sentences are typical of conversational speech, and so you will see examples like this in informal articles, on blog posts, and especially on social media networks such as Facebook. This usage is absolutely fine, as long as you don’t go overboard with exclamation points at the end of every sentence. Used sparingly, they can add powerful effect to your writing.

For academic writing, research papers and other formal documents, exclamation points are best left unused. Here is an example that is not strictly incorrect, but is out of place because of its formal nature:

[_ The results of the experiment showed that more than 90% of the patients suffered fewer complications. It was a great success! _]

The exclamation mark summarized:

Use exclamation marks sparingly to spice up your writing.

Use an exclamation mark to show an intense feeling. For example, anger, surprise, shock, or awe.

Other Things to Note

Never add a space before a period, a question mark, or an exclamation mark. This practice is incorrect:

* The beautiful thing about chocolate is that it tastes great all the time .

* What are you doing ?

* Be careful !

Finally, using a question mark and an exclamation mark together at the end of a sentence is a no-no. It is often used in informal contexts, but isn’t proper since only one terminal punctuation mark should be used at the end of a sentence.

* Do you know who you’re talking to?!

* What did you just say to me?!

Avoid the use of question marks in conjunction with exclamation marks in this way. Instead, simply use a question mark.

Exercises

Here are some exercises for you to complete. The answers are just below these exercises, so avoid looking at them before you complete the tasks. Note that the answers are an example of correct usage and that there may be more than one way to correct the sentences. The main idea of these is to get you thinking more about punctuation marks and their uses.

Correct the use of periods, questions marks, and exclamation marks in these sentences:

* How many times have I told you to stop doing that?!

* Amazon revolutionized online shopping, many smaller stores are going out of business.

* John asked me if you wanted to go with him to the concert tonight?

* Many people are against the use of cannabis, is there evidence that it might be beneficial?

* Books open up a whole new world of learning, they are a major source of the world’s knowledge .

Edited and corrected sentences:

How many times have I told you to stop doing that?

Amazon revolutionized online shopping, but many smaller stores are going out of business.

John asked me if you wanted to go with him to the concert tonight.

Many people are against the use of cannabis, but is there evidence that it might be beneficial?

Books open up a whole new world of learning. They are a major source of the world’s knowledge.

The Comma

A comma (,) is not simply a comma: there are actually four main types. Some people throw a comma into a sentence when they think there should be a pause, but this is simply incorrect. Clarifying how the four different commas are used is one of the most effective things you can do to improve you punctuation.

The four main types of comma are:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The listing comma

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The joining comma

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The gapping comma

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The bracketing comma

Let’s go through each one in detail, so you can master commas.

The Listing Comma

The listing comma is used for – you guessed it – lists. When three or more words or phrases are joined together using the word and or or, we can use a listing comma. Technically, each comma could be replaced with and or or, but it would sound tiring and repetitive. Here are listing commas in action:

I need eggs, bread, sugar, and milk.

John, Michelle, Paul, and Kate are coming to the party.

Please don’t smoke, drink, or consume food on the premises.

I want to visit either Spain, France, the UK, Germany, or Italy.

Note that the final item in the list always needs to be preceded by and or or. You can keep adding to the list to make four, five, or six items if you wish. However, after six it tends to get repetitive and clumsy, so avoid writing lists that are too long.

To test whether a listing comma is needed, or to check whether a comma is indeed a listing comma, simply replace it with and or or, and you will have your answer. All of the above commas could be replaced with these words, so they are listing commas.

Listing commas don’t just separate individual words, like the examples above. They can separate phrases or even whole sentences in a list.

I like red, Bella likes blue, and Jimmy likes green.

The USA is a vast nation with 50 states, vastly varying terrain, and word-class cities.

I’m going to order either the steak and fries, the clam chowder soup, or the vegetable pie.

The first example above connects three complete sentences:

I like red, Bella likes blue, and Jimmy likes green.

I like red. Bella likes blue. Jimmy likes green.

Note that in some varieties of English, particularly British English, adding a comma before the and or or in a list is not necessary. Here is an example of this in practice:

I like red, Bella likes blue and Jimmy likes green.

Another way to use a listing comma is to separate items in a list which describe the same thing. With this usage, two or more items are needed for a listing comma. In this particular use, and or or is not necessary.

China is an interesting, complex country.

Note that if you choose to use and, no comma is necessary.

China is an interesting and complex country.

Again, technically you can add any number of items to this list, but after five or six, it tends to get clumsy and repetitive. You are better off restructuring instead of overusing the listing comma like this.

China is an interesting, complex, fascinating, odd country.

While not technically wrong, you can see that the above example would be much better off expressed in a different way.

Note that some modifiers do not require a listing comma:

I bought a beautiful French red wine.

Rachael has lovely blonde hair.

In this case, the modifiers cannot be separated with and, so do not require a listing comma.

* I bought a beautiful and French and red wine.

* Rachael has lovely and blonde hair.

You can see that the ‘and test’ doesn’t stand up to these sentences, so they do not require a listing comma. The reason for this is that the modifiers are not all modifying the same thing. Beautiful modifies French red wine but French modifies only red wine. Similarly, lovely modifies blonde hair, but blonde simply modifies hair.

The listing comma summarized:

Use a listing comma when you have a list of three or more words or phrases.

Use a listing comma to separate modifiers which modify the same thing.

Test by using and or or.

Exercises

Correct the use of the listing comma in these sentences:

* This is some delicious Belgian, milk chocolate.

* The beautiful, sports car raced down the street.

* The top stars of tennis, boxing, golf earn vast sums of money.

* It was agreed by Phillip, Mike, Tony that the best way forward is to focus on more niche, specialized areas.

* Ireland is a quiet, picturesque country with lots of traditional, Irish heritage.

Edited and corrected sentences:

This is some delicious Belgian milk chocolate.

The beautiful sports car raced down the street.

The top stars of tennis, boxing, and golf earn vast sums of money.

It was agreed by Phillip, Mike, and Tony that the best way forward is to focus on more niche, specialized areas.

Ireland is a quiet, picturesque country with lots of traditional Irish heritage.

The Joining Comma

The joining comma simply connects two complete sentences together. One rule with the joining comma is that it must be followed by a connecting word (and, or, but, while or yet). Look at the joining comma in action:

Facebook was started in a college dorm room, and it grew to be one of the world’s largest companies.

Don’t park your car here for longer than 30 minutes, or you will receive a penalty.

Learning a new language is an extremely rewarding skill, but it takes time and commitment to do it.

Daniel enjoys exciting city breaks, while Sally likes relaxing vacations.

You are always talking about how clean and tidy you are, yet your room looks like a bomb exploded in it!

Looking at all the above examples, notice that the two halves of the sentences could easily stand alone by themselves with a period and no connective:

Facebook was started in a college dorm room. It grew to be one of the world’s largest companies.

Don’t park your car here for longer than 30 minutes. You will receive a penalty.

Learning a new language is an extremely rewarding skill. It takes time and commitment to do it.

Daniel enjoys exciting city breaks. Sally likes relaxing vacations.

You are always talking about how clean and tidy you are. Your room looks like a bomb exploded in it!

Remember from earlier, we learned that two complete sentences cannot be simply separated by a comma. They must either be separated with a period or have a comma and a connective.

* Facebook was started in a college dorm room, it grew to be one of the world’s largest companies.

* Don’t park your car here for longer than 30 minutes, you will receive a penalty.

* Learning a new language is an extremely rewarding skill, it takes time and commitment to do it.

* Daniel enjoys exciting city breaks, Sally likes relaxing vacations.

* You are always talking about how clean and tidy you are, your room looks like a bomb exploded in it!

There are many other connecting words that are used like the above examples. However, we cannot use them with a joining comma in the same way. However, therefore, consequently, nevertheless, thus and other similar connectives should be used either at the beginning of a new sentence after a period, or after a semicolon (more on semicolons later).

* Mark ate some bad food last night, consequently, he cannot go to work today.

* The fans were caught fighting and causing trouble in the stands, therefore, they have been banned from the stadium.

* We are sorry to say that your novel has not been accepted for publishing, nevertheless, we would like to review it again in the future.

You could replace the above connectives with one of and, or, but, while or yet and keep the joining comma, but as they stand they are incorrect. A semicolon or a new sentence is necessary.

The joining comma summarized:

Use joining commas with and, or, but, while or yet to join two complete sentences together.

Exercises

Correct the incorrect use of joining commas in these sentences:

* The company’s main concern now is trying to cut costs, consequently, there are going to be redundancies.

* I’ve always wanted to live in Australia, Jane hates the idea.

* Germany is well-known for manufacturing cars such as Volkswagen and BMW, Japan is famous for cars like Mitsubishi and Toyota.

* English borrows French words very freely, many are even pronounced with French articulation.

* Tom never seems to study, he always passes his exams.

Edited and corrected sentences:

***

Visit: http://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/709097 to purchase this book to continue reading. Show the author you appreciate their work!


Punctuate with Perfection: Master punctuation so you can produce clearer, more p

Punctuate with Perfection will bring you from your current level of punctuation ability to perfection. Would you like to write in a clearer, more authoritative fashion? Do you want to know exactly how to use colons, semicolons, dashes, and hyphens? This book can help you answer all these questions and more. This book is a modern guide which doesn’t get overly technical with jargon or complex explanations. Yet it is detailed and thorough, so you can acquire the confidence of using all the punctuation explained within. Every punctuation mark is shown in action using interesting and varied examples. There are also exercises to complete, which will help ingrain each punctuation mark and its uses. In this book, you’ll learn: • how to write more clearly by selecting the right punctuation mark for its intended purpose. • how to never again appear sloppy or amateurish in your written English. • the exact function and uses of the colon, the semicolon, the apostrophe, scare quotes, single quotes, double quotes, parentheses, the em-dash, the en-dash, the hyphen, and many more common punctuation marks. • the many second and third uses of common punctuation marks. Plus much more. Free resources for learning English -> SirEnglish.com

  • ISBN: 9781370485925
  • Author: Anthony Kelleher
  • Published: 2017-03-07 03:20:11
  • Words: 17843
Punctuate with Perfection: Master punctuation so you can produce clearer, more p Punctuate with Perfection: Master punctuation so you can produce clearer, more p