The purpose of punctuation is to mark out strings of words into manageable groups and to show how these groups are related to each other. Correct punctuation clarifies both the meaning of the individual words and the construction of the sentences as a whole, so that even quite complex sentences can be understood at first reading, without stumbling or backtracking. To some extent, therefore, punctuation acts as a substitute for the devices we all use in speech, such as pausing and altering pitch; however, the differences between written and spoken language mean that the parallel should not be pushed too far.

Punctuation shouldn’t cause as much fear as it does. Only about a dozen marks need to be measured and the guidelines are fairly stable. The marks most commonly used to divide a piece of prose are the full stop, the semicolon, and the comma with the strength of the dividing or separating role diminishing the full stop to the comma. The full stop therefore marks the main division into sentences; the semicolon joins sentences (as in this sentence); and the comma, which is the most flexible in use and causes most problems, separates smaller elements with the least loss of continuity. Brackets and dashes also serve as separators – often more strikingly than commas (as in this sentence).

You can see these marks being well applied every day in the serious newspapers, where 99 per cent of the punctuation will accord with the advice given here. Study of press punctuation also reveals the full range of marks, as journalists – especially the star columnists – use far more colons, semicolons and dashes than business and official writers. The current trend towards using the minimum of necessary punctuation in business reports, government information, etc. should not mislead anyone into thinking that a concern for proper punctuation is pedantic or old-fashioned. A command of the full range of punctuation marks helps you to say more and to say it more interestingly and effectively. Punctuation is an essential part of the tool-kit – as important as choosing the right words.

Apostrophe    ’

The apostrophe is now so widely misused that its eventual death seems inevitable. This would be a pity, as the correct use of apostrophes conveys meaning and prevents ambiguity.

Bracket          ( )        [  ]

The types of brackets used in normal punctuation are round brackets or parentheses (  ) and square brackets [  ].

Capital letters

Capital letters (upper case) are used to signal special uses of words, either to mark a significant point in written or printed matter (especially the beginning of a sentence), or to distinguish names that identify particular people or things from those that describe any number of them. Practice varies when people and things do not always fit neatly into one or other of these two categories. This article deals with elementary uses first, and then with the less straightforward ones.

Colon  :

The colon is the punctuation mark that is least used and least well understood in ordinary writing. It has several distinct functions that make it different from the full stop, the comma, or the semicolon.

Comma          ,

There is much variation in the use of the comma in print and in everyday writing. Essentially, its role is to give detail to the structure of sentences, especially longer ones, and to make their meaning clear by marking off words that either can prevent the reader from grasping the construction of the sentence as  a whole; too few can make a piece of writing difficult to read or, worse, difficult to understand.

Dash   –   –

There are, in formal printing at least, two types of dash: the en-rule (-) and the em-rule (–). An en-rule is twice the length of a hyphen and an em-rule is twice the length of an en-rule. Most word-processing programs are able to distinguish the two lengths of rule, but in ordinary writing no distinction is usually made (and many people are not even aware of one).

Thus it can be clearly comprehended that punctuation is an important aspect in learning and applying the basic concepts of linguistic abilities for a communicator to be effective and impressive. Without proper use of punctuation it would be difficult for the audience to read or listen and would surely fail to comprehend the basic purpose of communication.