Colon: often misused, now explained

The colon (:) acts as a pointer that introduces a list of items or examples, or in formal writing, to explain the main clause. Generally, the colon gives more information about what has been said; it simply says ‘this is what I’m saying’ or ‘I mean’. The colon is one of the most misused punctuation marks in English, the most noticeable being to separate nouns from verbs, verbs from objects or subject complements and prepositions from objects. This simply means we should not use the colon to interrupt the flow…

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Round & square brackets: use them, look smarter

Some of us have used round and square brackets interchangeably over the years because we didn’t know they are not the same, but they are, actually. We learn every day, so this could be a new knowledge we could apply to make us look smarter—and who doesn’t want to anyway? These brackets have different uses which are simple to learn and remember. Let’s get to them right away. Round brackets ( ) These are also known as parentheses (especially in American English). We use them for the following: To enclose extra…

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Question mark: did you know these rules?

The question mark (?) is another simple punctuation mark we use every day just to make enquiries or ask for information, and it’s as simple as that. It is also called an interrogation mark or interrogation point and it is used to end a statement that is clearly a question. However, if you sometimes wonder if a question mark is necessary, and you look at an expression for a while before you decide that, this is for you. Look at these examples: 1. Have they found the missing ring? 2.…

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Full stop: more than end of sentence symbol

The full stop (.), full point (both British English) or period (American) is apparently the simplest of all punctuation marks. It is almost everywhere at any given time, showing the end of a declarative sentence, inserted into an abbreviation, and so on. However, it is sometimes more complicated. Let’s look at these examples: The boy has completed the first phase of the task. The floor is clean. They came for us. Just for us. The first two examples are both conventional and straightforward, which means we are used to using…

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Punctuation: why bother about it?

Show me a discourse without punctuation and I’ll show you what ‘meaningless’ means. In speech and writing, punctuation is an integral part—it cannot be left out, neglected or avoided. Punctuation is the use of spacing, conventional writing styles and symbols to construct meaningful language structures for clarity. Look at these examples: 1. i. A woman: without her, man is nothing. ii. A woman, without her man, is nothing. 2. i. When do we eat dad? ii. When do we eat, dad? 3. i. He eats, shoots and leaves. ii. He…

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