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Why Punctuation is Important in English

May 02, 2023
Why is it Important to use Punctuation


Periods, commas, colons, semi-colons, question marks, apostrophes,  exclamation marks-these are all small symbols that we use in English writing and although they are tiny marks, they have great importance when writing.  Punctuation makes a difference in the way that a sentence is conveyed and if used incorrectly, can change the entire meaning of a sentence.   

Using a period at the end of a sentence tells the reader that the author is making a statement and the sentence is complete.  However, using a question mark at the end of the sentence tells the reader that the author is unsure of the answer.  “The weather is nice today.” This sentence shows that the author is making a definite statement, where as “The weather is nice today?” implies that the author is inquiring about the weather-they aren’t sure if it is nice or not. 

An apostrophe can be used to signal possession or a contraction (combining of two words).  The sentence “Bob’s cat is named Snickers” shows that the cat belongs to Bob.  The sentence “Bob’s cat’s named Snickers” shows that the cat belongs to Bob and that the cat is named Snickers. 

Commas are very important in English.  They can be used in many ways and make a huge difference in the meaning of sentences.  Some examples of comma use are: to separate items in a list (like I am doing here), to separate adjectives, when using a direct address (Let’s eat, Grandma. vs Lets eat Grandma.  The first sentence is telling us that the author is inviting grandma to eat, whereas the second sentence is implying that the author would like to actually eat their grandmother!), in defining relative clauses (My brother, whose name is Owen, has 3 children. vs My brother whose name is Owen has 3 children-In the first sentence, I am giving information about my brother but it is not necessary to understand the meaning of the sentence.  The second sentence implies that I have more than one brother and I am referring to the one named Owen), when using tag questions (It’s a nice day, isn’t it?).  As you can see, the comma can completely change the meaning of a sentence and is therefore one of the most important punctuation marks. 

These are just some examples of punctuation when writing in English.  For more information and lessons about punctuation and grammar in general, join us at CES! 

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