How to Use English Punctuation Correctly-Part 2

/End-of-Sentence Punctuation Marks/

1.Use a period (full stop) to end declarative sentences and statements. Also after initials, as in Alfred D. Smith. Every sentence contains at least one punctuation mark — the one at its end. The most common of these sentence-ending punctuation marks is the period (“.”, also called a “full stop”). This simple dot is used to mark the end of a sentence that is declarative. Most sentences are declarative. Any sentence that states a fact or describes or explains an idea is declarative.

Here is an example of a period (full stop) being used correctly at the end of a sentence:

The accessibility of the computer has increased tremendously over the past several years.

2.Use a question mark to end questions. The question mark ( “?” ) used at the end of a sentence denotes an interrogative sentence — basically, a question. Use this punctuation mark at the end of any question, query, or inquiry.

Here is an example of a question mark being used correctly at the end of a sentence:

What has humanity done about the growing concern regarding global warming?

3.Use an exclamation point to end exclamatory sentences. The exclamation point (“!”, also called an “exclamation mark” or “shout mark”) suggests excitement or strong emphasis. The exclamation point is used to end exclamations — short expressions of intense emotion that are often only one word long.

Here are two examples of an exclamation point being used correctly at the end of a sentence:

I can’t believe how difficult the exam was!

Eek! You scared me!

/Colons and Semicolons/

1.Use a semicolon to separate two related but independent clauses. The proper use of a semicolon is similar, but not identical, to that of a comma. The semicolon marks the end of one independent clause and the start of another within a single sentence. Note that, if the two clauses are very wordy or complex, it is better to use a period (full stop) and form two sentences instead.

  • Here’s an example of a semicolon being used correctly:

    People continue to worry about the future; our failure to conserve resources has put the world at risk.

2.Use a semicolon to separate a complex series of items. Usually, the items in a series are separated by commas, but for cases in which one or more items require comment or explanation, semicolons can be used in conjunction with commas to keep the reader from becoming confused. Use semicolons to separate items and their explanations from one another. To separate an item from its own explanation, use a comma.

  • Here’s an example of semicolons being used correctly in a list whose meaning might otherwise be ambiguous:

    I went to the show with Jake, my close friend; his friend, Jane; and her best friend, Jenna.

3.Use a colon to introduce a list. Be careful, however, not to use a colon when stating an idea that requires naming a series of items. The two are similar, but distinct. Often the sentence-ending words “the following” or “as follows” will call for the use of a colon when they are followed by new, explanatory information.

  • Here’s an example of a colon being used correctly in this fashion:

    The professor has given me three options: to retake the exam, to accept the extra credit assignment, or to fail the class.

  • Here, on the other hand, is an incorrect example:

    The Easter basket contained: Easter eggs, chocolate rabbits, and other candy. In this case you would simply omit the colon.

4.Use a colon to introduce a new concept or example. Colons can also be used after a descriptive phrase or explanation to imply that the next piece of information will be the thing being described or explained. It can help to think of this as introducing a list containing only one item.

  • Here’s an example of a colon being used properly in this way:

    There’s only one person old enough to remember that wedding: grandma.

5.Use a colon to separate parts of a title. Some works of art, particularly books and movies, can have long, subdivided titles. In these cases, what follows the main title is called a subtitle. Use colons to separate them.

  • Here’s an example of colons being used in this way to subdivide lengthy titles:

    Fred’s favorite movie was The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, though Stacy preferred its sequel, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

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