The Importance of Being a Punctuation Mark
Mar 10, 2011 Grammar 2940 Views
A dress, no matter how simple or drab, can always be enhanced by adding accessories. A simple scarf, draped artfully or an ornate broach - these are just some of the tricks. Similarly, when you come to languages, a statement can have ornaments too. Adjectives are always not the only ornaments. Another more understated and underused form is the use of punctuation. The use of the proper punctuation at the right time, can transform a simple sentence into a statement.
Words like "surprise" and "amazed" can be replaced with the timely usage of the exclamation mark. The period as known as a full-stop can convey the finality and the ever present comma - the continuity of the words. The question mark asks the unasked questions. A punctuation mark can convey the unspoken feeling of a speaker in some ways that even words cannot define. The sarcasm, which might be latent in the manner of the speaker, can be made more obvious by putting them within quotes, or even to put special emphasis on that word. And the sense of belonging stated by appending the apostrophe.
Take for example the words "Why are you reading this".
"Why are you reading this?" states the question being asked while "Why are you reading this!" shows the amazement of the speaker. Again, by combining the punctuations we can convey both meaning. "Why! Are you reading this?" shows both the surprise and question.
"Why are you reading "this"?" questions with emphasis on the material at hand. If you place the quotes on reading as in "Why are you "reading" this?" then you would be questioning the action.
In a sentence like "I'm done." with the usage of the period you convey the finality of the intent.
In verbal world, often the mood and articulation dictates the punctuation. Often you would have heard about the floating terms- expressions, intonation etc. These when translated to the written world leads to the need of punctuation. Playful expressions of words along with imaginative reading would actually help you visualize the context in point.
Punctuations are a very useful weapon to have in your arsenal when dealing with sentences and statements. With just changing the placement, the whole meaning and tone of a sentence can be changed. Innocuously even, the wrong usage can cause unintended offense. Hence it is the duty of the author to use it well and use it judiciously so as to avoid any confusion, or worse, any harm.