Punctuation - ! , . ! : ; . " " ..

Is it raining? I sent an email to you. Don't do that!

Many people hate punctuation, don't know why we should use it and don't really understand the purpose of it.

In this lesson we'll take a quick look at common punctuation marks - the full stop (American - period) (.), question mark (?), exclamation mark (!) and the comma (,).

You need to see punctuation as a friend!

The purpose of punctuation is to help the reader understand you and to help you make your meaning clear.

Punctuation is the written equivalent of our tone of voice, natural pauses and emphasis.
Go home by taxi. Go home! Go home? ( read these and see how the intonation of your voice and the meaning changes)


Most punctuation is in your hands. You can use a full stop or joining word, a comma etc. There are lots of ways to punctuate or write a sentence and the decision is yours.

  • I have to go shopping. I need to buy some food, a dress and a book.
  • I have to go shopping to buy some food, a dress and a book.
  • I have to go shopping because I need to buy some food, a dress and a book.
  • I have to go shopping because I need to buy some food. I also need to buy a dress and a book.
  • I have to go shopping. I need to buy some food. I also need to buy a dress and a book.
  • I have to go food shopping and I also need to buy a dress and a book.

  • Punctuation can also change the meaning of sentences.

    1. Commas used in lists. Look at this use of the comma in a shopping list - see how the meanings change.
    I need macaroni cheese, fish cakes and some tea.
    I need macaroni, cheese, fish, cakes and some tea.

    The comma replaces or / and in a list
    You can have chips or boiled or mashed or roast potatoes with your meal.
    You can have chips, boiled, mashed or roast potatoes with your meal.

    She needs to buy some pens and a folder and some paper and a ruler.
    She needs to buy some pens, a folder, some paper and a ruler.

    A comma helps us to make things clearer about what we mean.
    Below, the city lights were shining.
    Below the city, lights were shining.

    *Careful of the comma - people go comma crazy and put them everywhere. So for more info on commas look online or get a good book on punctuation.

    2. Look at how this use of a full stop can change the meaning.
    I've lost the oil. Can you find it for me?
    I've lost the oil can. You find it!

    Let's go back to basics and talk about sentences. I get so many emails that don't have punctuation and I find them so hard to read.

    What is a sentence?

    A sentence is a group of words that make complete sense together: I went to the football match. (This is not a sentence: I went to.)

    A sentence can be a statement, a command, a phrase or a question.

    Sentences begin with a capital letter and end with either a full stop, a question mark (?) or an exclamation mark (!).

    Sentences have a verb (doing word - play, have, go, am, will) - She plays guitar. My favourite band will be playing.

    Some sentences have two sentences linked together with a joining word (because, and, or, so...) We're going on holiday this summer and we are really looking forward to it.
    I'm reading this lesson because I want to know all about punctuation.

    Some sentences 'shout' at you. They could be commands or exclamations. This type of sentence ends in an exclamation mark: Take it away right now! It'll be a fab party! How stupid! Wait for me! We went to the match and he'd left the tickets at home! Oh, God! It's snowing again!

    Look at these sentences and add a full stop, questions mark or exclamation mark to complete them.

    1. We're going to Glastonbury Festival tomorrow
    2. Are you going to the pub tonight
    3. Don't touch it
    4. Is that your final answer
    5. I'm not sure what I'm doing later

    Answers

    1. We're going to Glastonbury Festival tomorrow. (full stop)
    2. Are you going to the pub tonight? (question mark)
    3. Don't touch it! (exclamation mark)
    4. Is that your final answer? (question mark)
    5. I'm not sure what I'm doing later. (full stop)

    Which are complete sentences? What punctuation do we need to complete the sentences and think of how to complete the incomplete sentences.

    a) When you have finished, give
    b) Watering can into the garden
    c) I am very fond of fishing
    d) Only eat if you
    e) don't come to school
    f) because of my odd habit
    g) bring me the camera please
    h) He would never have taken it if
    i) the fish need feeding
    j) I think you understand

    Answers + suggestions to complete the incomplete sentences

    a) When you have finished, give X (When you have finished, give it to me.)
    b) the watering can into the garden X (Bring the watering can into the garden.)
    c) I am very fond of fishing √ I am very fond of fishing.
    d) Only eat if you X (Only eat if you are hungry.)
    e) don't come to school √ But we need a capital letter and full stop or exclamation mark - Don't come to school!
    f) because of my odd habit X (Because of my odd habit I can't find work. / I've lots of friends because of my odd habit.)
    g) bring me the camera please √ But we need a capital and full stop or exclamation mark - Bring me the camera please!
    h) He would never have taken it if X (He would never have taken it if he'd known it was so valuable.)
    i) the fish need feeding √ But we need punctuation marks - The fish need feeding.
    j) I think you understand √ I think you understand.


    Click here to get my free PDF Punctuation Workbook


    Click here to go to the BBC website on punctuation - www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/topic/punctuation

    Click here to go to the Oxford Dictionary punctuation explanation and examples

    Click here for videos from videojug.com on punctuation

    Click here for American punctuation on grammarbook.com




    The only way to learn punctuation is to study it, notice it and use it.

    But don't go crazy and use punctuation such as commas and semi-colons all over the place!


    If you're interested in really improving your punctuation, writing and spelling, I've developed a great Beginner's Guide to Punctuation Course on Curious.com/howtospell Click here and check it out.






    Thanks to Basic Skills Agency, and Edexcel Literacy Level 1 (Clare Constant) book.