Uses of Punctuation Marks



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Uses of Punctuation Marks

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Uses of Punctuation Marks

In grammar, as well as written English, punctuation is essential; it involves the use of various marks to separate sentences, phrases, and clauses to enable clarity in meaning and making logical understanding. Some of these punctuation marks include brackets, commas, full stops, semi colons, and colons among others. In this discussion, three major punctuation marks are discussed namely the comma, semi-colon, and the colon; in addition to their description, the discussion also outlines some of the ways in which these punctuation marks are used in English grammar (Raba, 2012). These three punctuation marks have been a source of confusion to many students due to the fact that they perform a similar general task, which is indicating a pause in long or a series of sentences, phrases, or even clauses.

A comma is commonly used, as it shows the separation or a pause of words, or ideas in a sentence. Moreover, a comma is used before the coordinating conjunctions that link independent clauses or phrases. For instance, when saying “I love eating, and I love cooking.” Secondly, commas are used to separate a series or list of things; when outlining things or items in a list, commas are the most effective to use. As we see, “ I have a car, house, plane, company, and a television.” That is a list of five things and for logic reasoning and clarity in understanding, the comma is used to show the separation. Thirdly, commas are used after introductory adverbs such as finally, however, nevertheless, and surprisingly among others. In the previous sentence, it begins with an introductory phrase “Thirdly,….” There could be, “Finally, the use of a comma is ……” (Jane Straus, 2014) Fourth, a comma can be used when writing the quotation marks, however, the placing of the comma depends on the placing of the attribution. For instance, the boy said, “I am the best chef in the world” and “I am the best chef in the world,” said the boy. Finally, commas are also used when writing postal addresses to separate the entities present. A good instance would be “Her postal address is 257 Park avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.”

Semicolons are used as connectors or linkers of independent clauses, and phrases by further showing the relationship that the two clauses have or share. Mostly the relationship and connection is that which the ideas or phrases at hand are usually closely related. Primarily, a semicolon is used to link or connect two or more ideas in a sentence, whereby after the use, these two ideas then acquire equal rank and are closely related. A good example is “many patients prefer the administration of drugs and medication; few of the others prefer to be injected.” (Kelly, 2016) Secondly, semicolons can be used to link or connect two independent clauses that have previously been connected by the conjunctive adverbs. For instance, this can be seen in a sentence as follows “The health department has decided to implement health programs that will reduce the spread of TB; as a result, TB cases in the hospitals have drastically reduced.”

Colons on the other hand, are said to possess three main grammatical functions and uses; primarily, a colon is used to introduce a quotation for instance when one tries to show “They decided to buy three utensils: spoons, cups, and plates. Secondly, the use is similar to that of the semicolon, whereby between the two independent clauses, the second one is an extension or rather explains the first clause further. An example to illustrate this would be “She needed to study harder this semester: she had failed in the previous one.” Finally, a colon is used to show more emphasize on something being said as in the following illustration “I love one particular dress more than others: the blue chiffon one.” (Kelly, 2016) Besides these three uses, the colon is also used for non-grammatical uses in areas such as writing of ratios such as 4:5; writing time such as it is 9:15PM among others.




Jane Straus, L. K. (2014). The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. San Francisco: Josey-Bass.

Kelly, S. M. (2016). Punctuation. London: Open School BC.

Raba, A. A. (2012). The Most Common Punctuation Errors Made by the English and the TEFL Majors. An-Najah National University, Vol. 26. pp: 211-233.




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