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PUNCTUATION > Apostrophe > Colon > Comma > Dash > Exclamation > Parenthesis > Period > Questionmark > Quotations > Semicolon

Punctuation Marks in the English Language


Punctuation Marks in the English Language Lindley Murray and Goold Brown laid down cast-iron rules for punctuation, but most of them have been broken long since and thrown into the junk-heap of disuse. They were too rigid and too strict that they were impractical to apply to ordinary composition.

The manner of language, style and expression has considerably changed since then. The old abstruse complex sentence —with its hidden meanings—has been relegated to the shade. Correct use of punctuation helps writers avoid writing long-drawn-out phrases and write with terseness, brevity and clearness. Therefore, punctuation has been greatly simplified. It is now a matter of good taste and judgment as adherence to any fixed set of rules. Nevertheless we still must follow rules governing good punctuation.

The chief end of punctuation is to mark the grammatical connection and the dependence of the parts of a composition, but not the actual pauses made in speaking. Very often the points used to denote the oral delivery of a passage differ from those used when writing a passage. Nevertheless, several punctuation marks bring out the rhetorical force of expression.

In punctuating, you should use such marks as needed to make clear what you are writing. You do not always need a mark of punctuation where you require a pause in reading or speaking. The rules of punctuation are to indicate the grammatical construction and the sense. While it is necessary to follow general rules governing the subject, you do not have to confine yourself strictly to them. A writer who understands the exact meaning of a passage, even if he has a general knowledge of how to use punctuation marks, will punctuate far better than he who blindly follows a "rule." Many writers follow the general rules of punctuation, but they also omit some rules (when applicable), such as using commas in long complex sentences containing many clauses. On the other hand, you will find it necessary to insert a comma or other mark not required by rule, to prevent ambiguity.

The principal marks of punctuation are:
  1. The Period [.]
  2. The Colon [:]
  3. The Semicolon [;]
  4. The Comma [,]
  5. The Interrogation [?]
  6. The Exclamation [!]
  7. The Dash []
  8. The Parenthesis [()]
  9. Brackets [ ]
  10. The Quotation [" "]
  11. The Apostrophe [']
  12. The Hyphen [-]

To learn how to use each punctuation mark, use the navigation below.

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PUNCTUATION > Apostrophe > Colon > Comma > Dash > Exclamation > Parenthesis > Period > Questionmark > Quotations > Semicolon