Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke. Scott Fitzgerald. Some authors, however, most notably Tom Wolfe and Madison Acampora, are known for unashamedly liberal use of the exclamation mark. In comic books, the very frequent use of exclamation mark is common.
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Perhaps the best and most instructive way for us to approach the comma is to remember its fundamental function: it is a separator. This includes most transition words, descriptive words or phrases, adjacent items, and complete ideas complete ideas contain both a subject and a verb. Transition words add new viewpoints to your material; commas before and after transition words help to separate them from the sentence ideas they are describing.
Transition words tend to appear at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence. Typical transition words that require commas before and after them include however , thus , therefore , also , and nevertheless.
When they appear between two complete ideas, however, a period or semicolon is required beforehand:. Descriptive phrases often need to be separated from the things that they describe in order to clarify that the descriptive phrases are subordinate i. Descriptive phrases tend to come at the very beginning of a sentence, right after the subject of a sentence, or at the very end of a sentence. In each of these cases, note how the material separated by the comma e. You would write the first sentence if Jefferson only has one son and his name is Miles. You would write the second sentence if Jefferson has multiple sons, and it is his son Miles who just got into college.
Adjacent items are words or phrases that have some sort of parallel relationship, yet are different from each other in meaning. Adjacent items are separated so that the reader can consider each item individually. The dates July 4, and places Cleveland, Ohio are juxtaposed, and commas are needed because the juxtaposed items are clearly different from each other. We learned about coordinating conjunctions earlier in the course. These are words that join two words or phrases of equal importance.
Look at the following sentences. Each includes a coordinating conjunction. The serial comma is used to separate adjacent items—different items with equal importance—when there are three or more. This is so the reader can consider each item individually. In the first sentence, the commas are important because each item presented is distinctly different from its adjacent item. But what is the serial comma?
For example, if the and is part of a series of three or more phrases groups of words as opposed to single words:. Medical histories taken about each subject included smoking history, frequency of exercise, current height and weight, and recent weight gain. By always using a comma before the and in any series of three or more, you honor the distinctions between each of the separated items, and you avoid any potential reader confusion. A sure way to irritate educated readers of your work is to give them an overabundance of commas.
Perhaps the best way to troubleshoot your particular comma problems, especially if they are serious, is to identify and understand the patterns of your errors. We tend to make the same mistakes over and over again; in fact, many writers develop the unfortunate habit of automatically putting commas into slots such as these:. If the commas above look fine to you, then you may be in the habit of using commas incorrectly, and you will need to attack your specific habits, perhaps even in a routine, repetitive fashion, in order to break yourself of them.
Similarly, it is common for someone to have to look up the same tricky word dozens of times before committing its proper spelling to memory. As with spelling, commas or the absence of commas must be repeatedly challenged in your writing. In the end, you simply must make a habit of reading, writing, and revising with comma correctness in mind. Remember: commas have much to do with sentence wording, which is always in the control of the writer.
However, these two punctuation marks are not interchangeable. A semicolon connects two complete ideas a complete idea has a subject and a verb that are connected to each other. Look at this sentence for example:. Each of these ideas could be its own sentence, but by using a semicolon, the author is telling the reader that the two ideas are connected.
Often, you may find yourself putting a comma in the place of the semicolon; this is incorrect. Remember: a comma can join a complete idea to other items while a semicolon needs a complete idea on either side. The colon: well-loved but, oh, so misunderstood. The colon is not just used to introduce a list; it is far more flexible. The colon can be used after the first word of a sentence or just before the final word of a sentence.
The colon can also be used to introduce a grammatically independent sentence. Thus, it is one of the most powerful punctuation marks. The colon is like a sign on the highway, announcing that something important is coming. It acts as an arrow pointing forward, telling you to read on for important information. A common analogy used to explain the colon is that it acts like a flare in the road, signaling that something meaningful lies ahead. In low carbon steels, banding tends to affect two properties in particular: tensile ductility and yield strength. The colon is also commonly used to present a list or series, which comes in handy when there is a lot of similar material to join:.
A compost facility may not be located as follows: within feet of an exceptional-value wetland; within feet of a perennial stream; within 50 feet of a property line. If you learn to use hyphens properly, they help you to write efficiently and concretely. Usually, you can tell whether a hyphen is necessary by applying common sense and mentally excluding one of the words in question, testing how the words would work together without the hyphen. Some examples of properly used hyphens follow.
Note how the hyphenated word acts as a single unit carrying a meaning that the words being joined would not have individually. In these examples, no hyphens are needed:. Well is an adverb, and thus many fall into the school of thought that a hyphen is unnecessary. When it follows the noun, no hyphenation is needed.
Chapter 8 - Question Mark
Most prefixes do not need to be hyphenated; they are simply added in front of a noun, with no spaces and no joining punctuation necessary. The following is a list of common prefixes that do not require hyphenation when added to a noun:. However, when leaving out a hyphen will cause confusion, one should be added. Look at the following word pairs, for example:.
Common suffixes also do not require hyphenation, assuming no ambiguities of spelling or pronunciation arise. Typically, you do not need to hyphenate words ending in the following suffixes:. Also, especially in technical fields, some words commonly used in succession become joined into one. Here are some examples of such word blends, typically written as single words:. Like a caesura a timely pause in music, a dash indicates a strong pause, then gives emphasis to material following the pause.
In effect, a dash allows you to redefine what was just written, making it more explicit. You can also use a dash as it is used in the first sentence of this paragraph: to frame an interruptive or parenthetical-type comment that you do not want to de-emphasize. In all of these cases, the apostrophe stands in for the missing letters. Notice that the apostrophe curls away from the numbers, indicating that the missing characters originally appeared prior to the apostrophe. There are three typical ways quotation marks are used. The last use is scare quotes.
This is the most misused type of quotation marks. People often think that quotation marks mean emphasis. Despite what you may see practiced—especially in advertising, on television, and even in business letters—the fact is that the period and comma go inside the quotation marks all of the time. However, the semicolon, colon, dash, question mark, and exclamation point fall outside of the quotation marks unless, of course, the quoted material has internal punctuation of its own.
Brackets are a fairly uncommon punctuation mark. Their main use is in quotations: they can be used to clarify quotes. For example, say you want to quote the following passage:. I had a really great time with him. He was a lot taller than expected, though. When using brackets, you need to be careful not to change the original meaning of the quote. Another use of brackets is when there is a spelling or informational error in the original quote. As with most punctuation marks, there is some contention about its usage.
The main point of contention is whether or not there should be a space between the periods. Others you may encounter, such as in journalism, may not. Look at the following quote for an example:. Sauropod dinosaurs are the biggest animals to have ever walked on land. They are instantly recognized by their long, sweeping necks and whiplashed tails, and nearly always portrayed moving in herds, being stalked by hungry predators. In recent years, a huge amount of taxonomic effort from scientists has vastly increased the number of known species of sauropod. What we now know is that in many areas we had two or more species co-existing alongside each other.
A question that arises from this, is how did we have animals that seem so similar, and with such high energy and dietary requirements, living alongside one another? Was there some sort of spinach-like super plant that gave them all Popeye-like physical boosts, or something more subtle? They are instantly recognized by their long, sweeping necks and whiplashed tails. In recent years. By looking at two sympatric species those that lived together from the fossil graveyards of the Late Jurassic of North America. Just remember to put it back in! Diplodocus seems to have been well-adapted, despite its weaker skull, to a form of feeding known as branch stripping, where leaves are plucked from branches as the teeth are dragged along them.
The increased flexibility of the neck of Diplodocus compared to other sauropods seems to support this too. In terms of their morphological disparity differences in mechanically-significant aspects of their anatomy , Camarasaurus and Diplodocus appear to vary more than almost any other sauropod taxa, representing extremes within a spectrum of biomechanical variation related to feeding style.
However, this use is informal, and should only be used in casual correspondence e. The first American silver dollars were identical to Spanish pesos in weight and value, so they took the same written abbreviations: Ps. That evolved into a P with an s written right on top of it, and when people began to omit the circular part of the p, the sign simply became an S with a vertical line through it. Origin: Designed in by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the five rings represent the five regions of the world that participated in the Olympics: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
Exclamation Point Origin: Like the question mark, the exclamation point was invented by stacking letters. Equal Sign Origin: Invented by English mathematician Robert Recorde in , with this rationale: "I will settle as I doe often in woorke use, a paire of paralleles, or Gmowe [i. Ampersand Origin: This symbol is stylized et , Latin for "and. Octothorp Origin: The odd name for this ancient sign for numbering derives from thorpe , the Old Norse word for a village or farm that is often seen in British placenames.
Dollar Sign Origin: When the U. So "in protest," Prince announced that Prince would never perform for Warner Bros. The symbol for the Artist Formerly Known as Prince combined three ancient symbols: the male symbol, the female symbol, and the alchemy symbol for soapstone, which was supposed to reflect his artistic genius.
Prince retired the symbol when his contract with Warner Bros. Today, he is again Prince.
The article above, titled What the! Since , the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out! Newest 5 Comments In my elementary school days in the 30s, the dollar sign had two vertical parallel lines rather than one line.
Punctuation | Basic Reading and Writing
It was the combination of the vertical parts of the letter U and the bottom of the letter S. Abusive comment hidden. Show it anyway.