The use of punctuation is not meant to be followed simply because that is the rule; however, it should not be used at random either. Punctuation marks are essential for organising information to communicate ideas according to their value, in other words they help to organise a text and influence the narrative flow of what is written. When used correctly, they also clarify meaning by eliminating ambiguities or misinterpretations.
Take a look at these two examples: the sentence “I like cooking, dogs, and children” is not the same as “I like cooking dogs and children”. Knowing and understanding how to correctly use punctuation helps us write and communicate effectively.
The most commonly used punctuation marks include the full stop, comma, colon and semi-colon. Although there are various ways to properly use these punctuation marks, in this blog post we will be focusing on their use in British English.
A full stop is used to mark the end of an idea and tells the reader that they should take a long pause before moving on. A capital letter should normally follow a full stop, except if the full stop is being used in abbreviations or part of an ellipsis (a series of three dots).
Other common uses of a full stop:
It is more common in British English to not use a full stop after an abbreviation if it contains the first and last letter of a word (Dr, Mr and St). However, if the abbreviation only consists of the first part, it should be included (Wed. and Dec.).
Numbers should be written in standard form when they are used before abbreviations (write 3 km instead of three km).
Commas are used to help organise a text syntactically and they also indicate that the reader should pause briefly.
The semi-colon is used to show a longer pause than with a comma but less than a full stop. The first word that follows a semi-colon should be written in lower case.
A colon should be used to draw attention to the information that follows it. According to the Oxford Living Dictionary, colons have three general uses.
Thanks for reading our blog post today; leave a comment below with anything you found interesting or if you think there is something we left out that you would like to add!