Learning to master punctuation is important whether you are a child, a teenager, or an adult. Regardless of whether you have a love for the English language it is important to understand when and when not to use certain types of punctuation.
Much like Pinocchio, sentence structure depends on punctuation in order to live and become a real sentence. The most well known punctuation marks are the ones that come at the end of sentences like the exclamation point, the period, and the question mark; but these three things aren’t the only punctuation in the entire English language. There are eight main pieces of punctuation. Let’s take a better look at them below.
Commas – Commas are usually used to keep the reader from getting too confused. With various uses, the comma is mostly used with independent clauses. You can identify an independent clause by the words, “and,” “for,” “but,” and “yet” plus a few others.
Apostrophes – Apostrophes are used to show possession like in the sentence, “Jane’s first tuba is very big,” the apostrophe shows that the tuba belongs to Jane. In other cases, apostrophes are used to show that there is a letter missing in a word; these words are called contractions; for example the word “don’t” and the word “can’t” shows that there are missing letters between the “n” and the “t.”
Quotation Marks – Quotation marks are used for a number of things, such as when people are talking or when you are quoting something some one else said; these are double quotations. A single quotation mark looks just like an apostrophe, but is used to quote something said within a quote. Here is an example: “Annelise told her mother, ‘That’s not what I wanted for dinner!’”
Dashes – Dashes can link a lot of different things together like the numbers in a phone number, a range of numbers like 1 – 10, and to separate a thought in a sentence.
Hyphens – Hyphens look just like a dash, but are shorter. They often join words like, “low-budget.”
Brackets – Brackets are used to take the text away from the body of the sentence in a sense. The most common type of brackets is the parenthesis ( ). Hard line brackets [ ] separate thoughts from the rest of the sentence.
Colons – A colon is normally used when separating a list. Here is an example: “The shopping list consists of the following: eggs, milk, butter, bread, and cheese.”
Semicolon – The semicolon links to independent clauses. Think of it as joining two sentences that can normally stand on their own, but have enough of a connection to be linked with a semicolon. Here is an example: “She had dyed her hair red; her hair looked really pretty.”
Punctuation is a difficult thing to master, but it will make sense the more you use it. All of the rules involved in punctuation can be tough, but practicing can help a lot; also, studying on the things you use incorrectly can also help you a lot as well. In the end, punctuation is one of the most (if not THE most) important aspects of any language. Without it you might have a hard time understand if something is a question, a statement, or where you should take your breath in a speech.