Punc­tu­a­tion rules

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Culture/arts/education -

PUNC­TU­A­TION is very im­por­tant in com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It is an un­de­ni­able fact that when we talk, we use all kinds of body lan­guage to help our lis­ten­ers un­der­stand what we want to com­mu­ni­cate. For ex­am­ple, you scowl, wave your hands, shake your head, and lift your eye­brows to show what you mean. To scowl is to frown in an an­gry or bad-tem­pered way or to gri­mace at. How­ever, when we write these same words, we can­not help our read­ers with fa­cial ex­pres­sions.

In­stead we have to rely on punc­tu­a­tion marks to show them where to stop, pause, ques­tion or ex­claim. We are sim­ply talk­ing about the use of end marks like the full stop, at times re­ferred to as the pe­riod, the ques­tion mark and the ex­cla­ma­tion point. Learn­ers have taken punc­tu­a­tion marks for granted, for­get­ting that fail­ure to use them cor­rectly re­sults in loss of marks. Ex­am­in­ers have raised com­plaints over learn­ers fail­ing to use end mark, par­tic­u­larly the full stop or pe­riod.

The punc­tu­a­tion marks that show where a sen­tence ends are called end marks. When do you use the full stop/pe­riod? Use a full stop or pe­riod at the end of a sen­tence, state­ment or re­quest. Your bags are in the car. Use a pe­riod at the end of most im­per­a­tive sen­tences. An im­per­a­tive sen­tence is a sen­tence that gives a com­mand or makes a re­quest. Please be quiet. Use a full stop or pe­riod after an ab­bre­vi­a­tion or after an ini­tial or to show that some let­ters at the end of the word are miss­ing.

For ex­am­ple: Oct. (Oc­to­ber. Full stops are not usu­ally added when the ab­bre­vi­a­tion ends with the last let­ter of the full word. For ex­am­ple, Rd (Road) Dr (Doc­tor). Use a ques­tion mark at the end of an in­ter­rog­a­tive sen­tence. An in­ter­rog­a­tive sen­tence asks a ques­tion. Where are you go­ing? Use an ex­cla­ma­tion mark at the end of an ex­plana­tory sen­tence. An ex­plana­tory sen­tence shows strong feel­ing such as: anger, joy, sur­prise, sor­row, or ur­gency. Ex­am­ples show­ing such strong feel­ings: That’s won­der­ful news! Fire!

Use an ex­cla­ma­tion point after a strong in­ter­jec­tion. An in­ter­jec­tion is one or more words that show strong feel­ing. Ex­am­ples: Never! Un­be­liev­able! Help! When an in­ter­jec­tion is fol­lowed by a sen­tence, the sen­tence may end with any of the three end marks. Oh no! I have passed the turn. Help! How do I es­cape from this? Wow! That was close! We now re­turn to the be­gin­ning of sen­tences and dis­cuss us­ing cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion. Cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion is de­scribed as one way to call at­ten­tion to im­por­tant, mean­ing­ful words.

The most fa­mil­iar uses of cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion are at the be­gin­ning of sen­tence and for proper nouns, like names. The other uses of cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion most of­ten dis­tin­guish gen­eral nouns from spe­cific ones. In gen­eral, the words that are cap­i­talised fall into the fol­low­ing cat­e­gories: names of peo­ple, per­sonal ti­tles, na­tion­al­i­ties, and re­li­gions, ge­o­graph­i­cal names and struc­tures, or­gan­i­sa­tions, his­tor­i­cal events, and first words and ti­tles.

Cap­i­talise proper nouns and ad­jec­tives. We have pre­vi­ously de­fined a proper noun as the name of a spe­cific per­son, place, thing, or idea. Proper nouns are cap­i­talised. Com­mon nouns are not. A proper ad­jec­tive is an ad­jec­tive formed by a proper noun. It is also cap­i­talised. Ex­am­ples: Com­mon noun — book, pen, cow, au­thor. Proper Noun — Charles, Sandy, Sihle, Nd­abez­inhle. Proper Ad­jec­tive — El­iz­a­bethan. In ad­di­tion to these, cap­i­talise peo­ple’s names and ini­tials that stand for names.

Ex­am­ples: Henry Treece, T P Moyo, Vic­to­ria S Jones. Al­ways cap­i­talise the pro­noun I. I read this magazine last week. Cap­i­talise all words re­fer­ring to God and re­li­gious scrip­tures such as: the Lord, the Bi­ble, Je­sus Christ, Al­lah, the Ko­ran, and the To­rah. As al­ways cap­i­talise the names of months, days, and hol­i­days but not the names of sea­sons: Jan­uary, Mon­day, Good Fri­day, sum­mer. Cap­i­talise time ab­bre­vi­a­tions like B.C, A.D, A.M, and P.M. The gen­eral meet­ing starts at 10:00 A. M.

Use of the comma. Use a comma after ev­ery item in a se­ries ex­cept the last. A se­ries con­sists of three or more items of the same kind. Ex­am­ple: He grew toma­toes, car­rots, cab­bages and spinach in his gar­den. Com­mas are used to rep­re­sent a brief pause in a long sen­tence. Teach­ers should not only be tol­er­ant, they should also be pa­tient, kind and un­der­stand­ing. Com­mas are used in the list­ing of ad­jec­tives that de­scribe the same noun.

For ex­am­ple, the route was long, me­an­der­ing, bumpy. Com­mas are also used be­fore ques­tion tags. She ar­rives to­day, doesn’t she? A comma can be used to sep­a­rate the speaker from the ac­tual words spo­ken. Ex­am­ple: The head said, “Be se­ri­ous with your stud­ies.” When do you use the apos­tro­phe? Apostro­phes are used with “s” to show own­er­ship or pos­ses­sion. Ex­am­ples: Ted’s watch. Pretty’s dress. Note: The (‘) be­tween the noun and the “s’ when the noun is sin­gu­lar.

The (‘) comes after the “s” in plu­ral nouns and in per­sonal names that end with “s”. Ex­am­ples: the pup­pies’ meal. Jones’ mother. Use apos­tro­phe (‘) in con­trac­tions or short forms, to show that some let­ters are miss­ing. Ex­am­ples: Didn’t (did not), I’m (I am), Aren’t (are not). Cor­rect punc­tu­a­tion is the in­te­gral part of writ­ing com­plete sen­tences. Re­mem­ber a sen­tence is a group of words that ex­presses a com­plete thought.

A sen­tence be­gins with a cap­i­tal let­ter and ends with ei­ther a pe­riod (full stop), a ques­tion mark or an ex­pla­na­tion point.

For views link up with charles­dube14058@gmail. com/ sms to 0772113207.

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