English Grammar - Lesson 4: Basic English Punctuation Rules

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English Grammar - Lesson 4: Basic English Punctuation Rules
English Grammar - Lesson 4: Basic English Punctuation Rules
Basic English Punctuation Rules


This guide provides instruction on the basic rules of using a period, comma, colon, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point. Each type of punctuation is followed by an explanation and example sentences for reference purposes.

Period

Use a period to end a complete sentence. A sentence is a group of words containing a subject and predicate. In British English a period is called a ' stop'.

Examples:

He went to Detroit last week.
They are going to visit.

Comma

There are a number of different uses for a common in English. Commas are used to:

* Separate a list of items. This is one of the most common uses of a comma. Notice that a comma is included before the conjunction 'and' which comes before the final element of a list.

Examples:

I like reading, listening to music, taking long walks, and visiting with my friends.
They would like books, magazines, DVDs, video cassettes, and other learning materials for their library.

* Separate phrases (clauses).

* This is especially true after a beginning dependent clause or a long prepositional phrase.

Examples:

In order to qualify for your certificate, you will need to take the TOEFL exam.
Although he wanted to come, he wasn't able to attend the course.

* Separate two independent clauses that are connected by a conjunction such as 'but'.

Examples:

They wanted to purchase a new car, but their financial situation would not allow it.
I'd really enjoy seeing a film this evening, and I'd like to go out for a drink.

* Introduce a direct quote (as opposed to indirect speech i.e. He said he wanted to come ...).

Examples:

The boy said, "My father is often away during the week on business trips."
His doctor replied, "If you don't stop smoking, you run the risk of a heart attack."

* Separate appositives (a noun, or noun phrase) or non-defining relative clauses.????:




Examples:

Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, comes from Seattle.
My only sister, who is a fantastic tennis player, is in great shape.

Question Mark

The question mark is used at the end of a question.

Examples:

Where do you live?
How long have they been studying?

Exclamation Point

The exclamation point is used at the end of a sentence to indicate great surprise. It is also used for emphasis when making a point. Be careful not to use an exclamation point too often.

Examples:

That ride was fantastic!
I can't believe he is going to marry her!

Semicolon

There are two uses for a semicolon:

* To separate two independent clauses. One or both of the clauses are short and the ideas expressed are usually very similar.

Examples:

He loves studying; He can't get enough of school.
What an incredible situation; it must make you nervous.

* To separate groups of words that are themselves separated by commas.

Examples:

I took a holiday and played golf, which I love; read a lot, which I needed to do; and slept late; which I hadn't done for quite a while.
They plan to study German, for their travels; chemistry, for their work; and literature, for their own enjoyment.

Colon

A colon can be used for two purposes:????:




* To provide additional details and explanation.

Examples:

He had many reasons for joining the club: to get in shape, to make new friends, to lose some weight, and to get out of the house.
She gave notice for the following reasons: bad pay, horrible hours, poor relations with colleagues, and her boss.

* To introduce a direct quote (a comma can also be used in this situation).

Examples:

He announced to his friends: "I'm getting married!"
She cried out: "I never want to see you again!"
 
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