By definition, punctuation involves the use of special marks and signs in sentences. It gives information or idea about the meaning of a sentence. Besides, it makes it much easier for people to read and understand the meaning of a sentence or a group of words.
The absence of good punctuation in a sentence or group of words makes it meaningless or complete nonsensical. Hence the importance of punctuation cannot be underrated since a group of words can have different meanings depending on the usage in a given sentence.
Consider this group of words for instance. I told you, I was in the room when it happened could mean different meanings. He said it happened while he was in the room. Or as he was in the room, the incident happened.
Most students writing WAEC, NECO, JAMB and any other relevant examinations fail because of lack of good punctuation in their essays or letter writing, summaries and comprehension. It is therefore very important for students to know the techniques in the use of punctuation so that they can come out in flying colours in their exams.
This post will bring out the various types of punctuation, their usage and the techniques of doing just that in a simple language that help equip students to use punctuation appropriately in essay and letter writing as well as in answering comprehension, summaries to pass with distinctions in any relevant examinations.
1. The capital letter: is used to begin a sentence or name of a place like Lagos. It can also be used in abbreviations of proper nouns like C.N.N., F.C.T. etc.
2. Full Stop: is used at the end of sentences to signify a break or pause. You must pause before continuing another sentence and full stop is longer than a comma.
3. The question mark (?): ask direct question at the end of a sentence. For instance, you mean you gave out the book? Why did you do that?
4. Comma: is most frequently used in sentences. It is used to indicate brief pause or break in a sentence. This pause is however shorter than the pause made or used in full stop. For instance, when we are making list of items, commas are used. We ate rice, eba, beans, etc. Again, I do a lot of work including sweeping, cooking, mopping and so on.
5. Colon(:) Is used to indicate also a list of items. E.g. we bought the following items for our church: chairs, fan, clock, television and so on.
6. Semi Colon (;) is used to introduce a list but comes before the list with a short break in considered long sentence. For instance, the Party supporters were singing and dancing; the congregation watching with admiration. Again, words like however; moreover, consequently, nevertheless are to link two independent clauses of which the semi colon comes before the words.
7. Exclamation Mark (!): is used at the end of a sentence to express shock or joy in a sentence. It’s great! Cheering news, congratulations! It can also serve as a command, danger or pain. Stop that act! Remove it! Etc.
8. The Dash: though not very commonly used in a sentence but are used for certain purposes like separating group of words in a sentence. For example, he talks too much – always talking rubbish.
9. Brackets are used in pairs to mark a group words and they are often separate from the rest of the sentence. The committee was set up (two men and 3 women).
10. Quotation mark (?) Is also called inverted commas or speech marks. It is used to quote the exact words of someone, otherwise known as a direct speech. For instance, John lamented, I “lost a huge sum of money”. Obi said, “I am angry about that”..
In summary, without a good punctuation in an essay, letter writing, comprehension, summary and a relevant write ups, there can never be a decent work. It will just be mere write ups without ideas and meanings. It will lack sense of direction and in most cases end up nonsensical. Well punctuated essay and letter writing will make for easier follow up and a good conclusion. Students should endeavour to master these punctuations as ideal techniques in doing justice to any work in English Language in WAEC/NECO, JAMB and any other relevant examinations. Good luck.