ELL: The 4 Most Common Punctuation Marks
Jan 14, 2012 English Language Learning (ELL) 2457 Views
Have you ever read a note or letter that contained words, words, and more words but no punctuation? Well, I'm glad to say that I have, and I'm certain I used to before I learned English Grammar and Punctuation. While working with an English Language Learner (ELL) student some years back I remember asking the student to write a paragraph in English, the handwriting was beautiful and legible, however, there was not a single punctuation mark. Asking the student to read the paragraph was most interesting because the student herself did not know where to stop and/or pause.
For the ELL student, as I was, here are the four most common punctuation marks and their uses when writing proper English Grammar. Examples of their uses follow the descriptions below.
- Period: The punctuation mark called a 'period' is a small a little dot [.] and is placed at the end of a sentence. The period indicates the end of a sentence and tells you to do a complete stop when reading. The period dot [.] may also be used as an abbreviation mark. Example: The dog chased the squirrel. The [.] shows the end of that sentence and it means stop after you get to the last word which is 'squirrel' in this sentence. An example of the abbreviation use is: Mr. Garcia or Mrs. Vang. Notice the [.] after Mr. and Mrs.
- Question mark: The punctuation mark called a 'question mark' [?] is a small fishhook symbol with a small dot falling down from the fishhook. This symbol is placed at the end of a sentence when asking a direct question. Sometimes it is placed after a number when the number is not certain to be accurate. Example: Did the dog chase the squirrel? The [?] is asking a direct question. If the [?] is used after a number it means it's not certain. For example, grandpa was born in 1906?
- Comma: The punctuation mark called a 'comma' [,] is a small dot like a period, but has a tiny tail. This symbol is used to create a small pause between sentences or to separate words, names, or numbers, in a list. Example: The grass was wet, but we sat on it anyway. Notice the very slight pause in reading, then the sentence continues.
- Exclamation point: The punctuation mark called the 'exclamation point' [!] is a tiny baseball bat with the detached baseball at the bottom. This symbol is mostly used to make an emotional point such as with excitement, surprise, or anger. Example: Wow! I can't believe I won! Notice the emotional emphasis. The exclamation mark gives the sentence a sudden burst of life.
The descriptions above are the descriptions I was taught and I share them with you as I learned them. In summary, the period [.] ends a sentence, the question mark [?] asks a question, the comma [,] makes a small pause, and the exclamation [!] gives the words emotional meaning.