Punctuation does matter. In fact, it matters so much that sometimes the meaning of a sentence can be changed completely just by punctuating it in a slightly different way.
Example: How would you punctuate the following sentence?
A woman without her man is nothing
Punctuation marks can be added in two ways:
A woman, without her man, is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.
They each have quite a different meaning!
Why do we punctuate?
One answer to this question is that punctuation marks are added to remove ambiguity. Whether in legal documents or university assignments wrong punctuation can cost money or marks.
Another approach suggests that as few punctuation marks as possible should be used. According to this approach adding punctuation marks adds to ambiguity.
Whatever approach you use it is important that the meaning is clear. Punctuation should also make the text easy to read.
Where do we put punctuation marks?
1. At the end of sentences.
There are four punctuation marks which are used at the end of sentences:
(a) the full stop (period)
It was lovely to see you the other day.
(b) the thrice repeated full stop (…) indicating ellipsis has occurred
Near the end of his new product presentations, Steve Jobs of Apple Mac fame used to say “And one more thing…”.
(c) the question mark (?)
What is the maximum load on the beam?
(d) the exclamation mark (!)
Wow! New York is really amazing!
2. Within sentences
Most other punctuation marks are used within sentences. For example, commas, colons, semicolons, apostrophes, and brackets.
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