English Punctuations and use of Capitals
Punctuation is the art of using proper stops or marks in writings, so as to make the meaning clear and easily understood. The following are the chief marks of punctuation.
- The full stop [.]
- The comma [,]
- The semi colon [;]
- The colon [:]
- The hyphen [-]
- The dash [–]
- The question mark [?]
- The exclamation mark [!]
- The quotation marks [“ ”]
- The apostrophe [‘]
1. The Full Stop [.]
(i) The full-stop marks the end of a sentence which is neither interrogative nor exclamatory; as,
1. Always work hard.
2. Slow and steady wins the race.
(ii). The full stop is used at the end of abbreviations and initials; as,
B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)
P.T.O. (Please turn over)
M.A. (Master of Arts)
(iii) Three full stops are inserted in the place of material omitted from a quotation.
If a man holds up a mirror to your nature and shows that .it needs washing… go for soap and water.
(a) The full-stop is not used after the abbreviations of compound names of international organisations and government agencies; as,
UNO, UNESCO, WAPDA
(b) (b) Sometimes the full-stop is not placed after Mr, Mrs, Dr
(c) The full-stop is not used after the title of books, magazines, and articles; as,
A book of English prose
2. The Comma [,]
The comma is the shortest pause. It is used;
i. To separate two or more parts of speech when they come together, as,
1. Dogs, horses and camels are faithful animals.
2. Eat, drink and be merry.
3. The country needs honest, intelligent, obedient and healthy young men.
ii. To separate words or phrases in apposition; as,
Allama Iqbal, the poet of the east.
Quaid-e-Azam, the founder of Pakistan.
iii. To separate the nominative of address; as,
Boys, it is time to work hard.
iv. To separate pairs of words and phnises; as,
1. Rich and poor, high and low, young and old, all attended the lecture.
2. Islam looks alike rich and poor, men and women, high and low, weak and strong.
v. After an absolute construction; as,
1. Having completed their work, the labourers went home.
2. Having taken his meal, he set to work.
vi. To separate words, phrases, or clauses inserted into the body of a sentence; as,
1. The man, who was there, is my friend.
2. He is, today, a great man.
3. His condition, to-tell you the truth, is very pitiable.
vii. Before and after a participle phrase; as,
1. The teacher, having punished the boys, returned to office.
viii. To separate certain clauses; as,
1. Since you have confessed it, I pardon you.
2. If you want to succeed in life, work hard.
ix. To separate full coordinate clause of a compound sentence, as,
1. Men may come, and men may go, but I go for ever.
2. I came, I saw, I conquered.
x. To avoid the repetition of a verb; as,
He went with Farzana; I, alone.
xi. To mark off a direct quotation; as,
1. She said to him, “I will stand by you in weal and woe.”
2. “Come,” said the judge, “I will help you”.
xii. To separate noun clause from one another; as,
I do not know who he is, where he lives and what he does.
xiii. To separate the date of month from the year; as,
Umair was born on December 8, 1982.
xiv. To mark off words like “yes”, “no”, “well”, etc; as,
1. Yes, my father has come.
2. No, he is not here.
xv. The co-ordinate clauses with different subjects connected by and require a comma; as,
His father is an old man, and his mother is sick.
xvi. If there are more than two co-ordinate clauses, a comma is used after each of them, together with a final and joining the last two clauses.
Shy dyes her fair, paints her face, and plucks her brows.
xvii. The comma is used to mark off the subordinate clauses when they precede the main clause, but not when they follow it:
If a man is diligent, he will be successful.
I will go when I like.
xviii. Clause beginning with although, since and because are generally set off by a comma; as,
I will not oppose you, although I do not agree to your proposal.
He succeeded, because he worked hard.
xix. Adjective clauses have a comma when they describe or comment but no comma when they define; as,
He abused the beggar, which was wrong.
He met a stranger who had come from a distant city.
xx. Adjectives, when not connected by and^ require a comma; as,
A tall, muscular man entered the room.
xxi. Adjectives, when they come after the noun they qualify, are separated by commas;
The book, torn and dirty, lay on the table.
xxii. When two adjectives precede a noun and the first adjective modifies the second adjective and the noun, no comma is used to separate them; as,
He is wearing a vivid red tie.
The moon shone in the clear blue sky.
xxiii. Adverbs and adverbial phrases that modify the whole clause or sentence are marked off by a comma.
Luckily, he escaped unhurt. In fact, he is to blame in this matter.
xxiv. Contrasted words and phrases are separated by a comma.
Action, not words, will make a man of you.
The higher we go, the cooler it is.
xxv. etc., or the like, and so on, when occurring in the middle of a sentence, are followed by a comma.
3. The Semicolon [;]
The semicolon acts as a sort of lighter full-stop. It is used when the two sentences are closely connected in thought and cannot be marked of by a full-stop.
(i) The semicolon is used to separate coordinate clauses when there is a marked change in thought as,
1. You must work, work and work; else you will fail.
2. Patience is holding on; perseverance is holding out; faith is holding up.
(ii) It is used when two clauses are joined by accordingly, consequently, also, therefore, hence, however, moreover, indeed, nevertheless, otherwise, etc., as,
1. He recommended your application; therefore I shall give you this job.
2. He failed thrice in his attempt to pass the examination;
nevertheless, he did not lose heart.
(iii) It is used to separate phrases or clauses already containing commas; as,
1. Cannons were left of them, cannons were right of them, cannons were in front of them; but they were not afraid of death
2. He knows English, I know Mathematics, he knows Persian, I know Arabic.
4. The Colon [:]
(i) The colon is used to introduce a formal direct quotation, and a formal enumeration of particulars; as,
1. Someone had said: it is no use crying over spilt milk.
2. The Holy Quran says: The Muslims are one brotherhood.
(ii) The colon is used after a clause when the following clause restates the same thought; as,
We must fight or die: there is no alternative.
(iii) The colon is used before enumeration, examples etc.,
The principal parts of a sentence in English, are: the subject and the predicate.
(iv) The colon is used between sentences grammatically independent but closely connected in sense; as
Man proposes: God disposes
5. The Hyphen [-]
(i) A hyphen is used to join the different parts of a compound word; as,
Commander-in-chief, Father-in-law, One-third, three-pronged.
(ii) It is also used to connect the parts of a word divided at the end of a line; as,
6. The Dash [-]
(i) A (lush is used to mark a sudden turn in speech; as,
1. If only I had not done this — but why cry over spilt milk.
2. If I had a lakh of rupees — but why to think of such a foolish idea.
3. Abu Ben Adham — may his tribe increase
(ii) It is used on either side of a word or phrase repeated for the sake of emphasis;
He will never – never – stop to flattery.
(iii) It is used to set off parentheses from the rest of the sentences.
When I saw that horrible scene-I shudder even now at the thought-I fell down senseless.
(iv) It is used to indicate the omission of a word, or letters in a word;
Mr. H—is a person who is liked by all.
7. The Question Mark [?]
(i) The question is played after a direct question; as,
How old are you? How do you do?
(ii) The question mark is used after the direct interrogative speech; as,
He asked me, “Have you done your work?”
8. The Exclamation Mark [!]
The Exclamation mark is used at the end of a word, a phrase, or a sentence to indicate strong feeling or violent emotion; as,
1. Hurrah! We have won the match.
2. Alas! I am undone.
9. Quotation Marks [“ ”]
(i) The quotation marks are used to denote a speaker’s actual words; as,
1. He said, “God is one.”
2. Shakespeare says, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
(ii) The quotation marks are used when reference is made to the title of a book etc; as,
“Hamlet” is Shakespear’s finest tragedy.
(iii) Single quotation marks are used to indicate a quotation within a quotation; as,
He told me, “I heard him say, ‘Forgive me, please”.
10. The Apostrophe [ ‘ ]
(i) It is used to indicate possessive case of nouns; as,
Umair’s book, Farzana’s purse.
(ii) It is used to form the plural of letters and figures; as,
1. Add three 5’s to six 9’s.
2. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s.
(iii) It is used to show the omission of a letter or letters; as
Don’t = Do not
Haven’t = Have not
The use of capital letters
The capital letters are used as follows.
(i) At the beginning of every sentence.
1. We are Pakistani.
2. Never tell a lie.
(ii) With the name of the Deity; as,
1. Praise to be to God, the Merciful.
(iii) At the beginning of a Quotation.
1. She said “Man is mortal.”
2. My father said, “Life is not an empty dream.”
(iv) At the beginning of a line of poetry.
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the diffodils.
(v) With important words in the title of a book, newspaper, journal, public institution, article, etc.
Holy Quran, Madrasa-tul-Banat, The Nation, The Pakistan Times, The Muslim League,
(vi) With the days, moths, festivals etc.
Umair was born on Wednesday, the 8th December, 1982.
(vii) With proper nouns and adjectives formed from them; as,
Farzana and Farhana are real sisters.
(viii) The personal pronoun I is always written in capital I; as,
I am a young man of 22.
(ix) At the beginning of common nouns which are personified; as,
O Death, where is thy string!