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More Punctuations

This will be my second posting on punctuation. Read the earlier one here.  The first posting shows the importance of correctly positioning or inserting punctuation marks in sentences to avoid confusion and misinterpretations. In this blog, we’re going to look at four more punctuation marks:

  • colon :
  • semi-colon ;
  • exclamation !
  • quotation ” “

(a) The colon

Use the colon when you want to make a list.

Example

  • Please bring the following to the camp:
    • torchlight
    • mosquito repellent
    • first-aid kit

 (b) The semi-colon

Use the semi-colon to separate groups.

Example

  • There are guests from Qingtao, China; Naples, Italy; Chiangmai, Thailand; and Melaka, Malaysia.

You may also use the semi-colon to separate closely related sentences.

Example

  • I’ve never been to Singapore; I dislike travelling.

 (c) The exclamation mark

Use an exclamation mark (or exclamation point) at the end of a word or sentence to show strong emotions and to command.

Examples

  • Help! I’ve been robbed! (distress)
  • Ouch! Watch where you’re going. (pain)
  • I don’t want to see you ever again! (anger)
  • Oprah is coming to interview me! (excitement)
  • Rover, come! (command)

The words in blue indicate the functions of the exclamation mark for each sentence. Do you say, “Fire.” or “Fire!” or “Fire?” when your house is about to be burnt to ashes? 😀

(d) Quotation marks

Use quotation marks to name titles and literary works within a sentence.

Examples

  • “Tom Sawyer” is a book written by Mark Twain.
  • The last two movies I saw were “Transformers” and “Harry Potter”.

Use quotation marks when you’re quoting a person’s speech in a sentence.

Examples

  • Shakespeare once said, “To be or not to be” in his play.
  • According to the Prime Minister, “no one is above the law.”

Let’s have some “fun” with punctuation marks. Do these make sense? How would you interprete them? Have fun 😀

  • Fire? 
  • You have to come, huh!
  • Wait for me.
  • Wait for me!
  • Wait, for me.
  • Oh, my love!
  • Oh, my love?
  • Oh my, love.
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Punctuation Marks

In any spoken language, punctuation marks are so discreetly used that students (and even adults) are not able to use them correctly. Punctuation helps organise sentences so that we know when there’s a stop, a pause, an emotion or an inquiry. Knowing how to punctuate correctly is critical to avoid unwanted misinterpretations.

Observe these two sentences. The same words are used; the only difference is the punctuation used, and its position in the sentence.

  1. A woman, without her man, is nothing.
  2. A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Sentence #1 shows how important the role of a man is in a woman’s life.  On the other hand, Sentence #2 indicates that a woman is important in a man’s life. As you can see, it’s the opposite of Sentence #1. Neither sentence is gender-biased, so which belief do you subscribe to? 🙂

See how different sentences mean just by changing the position (and the type) of the punctuation mark? In spoken English, you’ve to ensure that when you say something, you need to stop and pause at the right time, or else you’ll get into trouble. Therefore, for both example sentences, you should say like this:

  1. A woman, [pause] without her man, [pause] is nothing.
  2. A woman: [stop] without her, [pause] man is nothing.

Here’s another example. Compare all three sentences. Can you tell the difference? 😀

  • The man eats shoots and leaves.
  • The man eats, shoots and leaves.
  • The man eats shoots, and leaves.

Have fun and hope to hear from you.

Punctuation Marks

Many students ignore the correct usage of punctuation marks; some even believe that these marks should not be taught as it is a waste of time. Watch this video, and hopefully you’ll then see how significant a punctuation lesson is especially in writing.