Punctuation Marks

2.1 Introduction

The main attempt of this research is to find out the errors in using punctuation marks in writing made by the students of the Technical College- Galle

In this study, the researcher shows the definition and theory in the literature review. The researcher writes several definitions of punctuation marks and types of punctuation taken from some grammarians, language scholars and linguists who have already paid their attention to find out the errors in using punctuation marks in writing, they have also studied about it. After their studies, they have proclaimed their own definitions.

Then, the researcher also adds a review of the related study that contains some research results taken from some researchers.

2.2 Definition of punctuation

Noris (2015, p.53) has defined punctuation as “Period/ full stop (.), comma (,), semicolon (:), hypen (-), “n” dash/ “m” dash (--), dot (for the net) (www.hesinki.fi), decimal point (2.5), parentheses/ brackets ( () ), braces/ curly brackets ( {} ), exclamation mark (!), question mark (?), Slash, slant line, diagonal, stroke, virgule (/), backlash (), apostrophe (‘), quotation marks (“” ; ‘’), ellipsis dots(. . .) asterisk (not comic asterix!) (*), superscript (𝑆𝑜𝑜𝑛15), subscript (𝐻2𝑂)”.

According to Widjono HS (2007), punctuation marks are comma, period, hyphen, semicolon, colon, question mark, exclamation point, apostrophe, parenthesis, and italic.

According to Hilton C. and Hyder M. Grammar and Punctuation BBP (Letts Educational London – 2009), people need to communicate with each other to express their thought, feeling, information, experience, to give advice and inquire questions. Therefore, punctuation marks help to make the written word perfectly clear to the reader to understand what the writer has written

2.3 Types of punctuation marks

The following are explanations about types and placing punctuation according to Straus (2008) and Wilkinson Clyde (1955) and the book “Easy way to English” by Champa Perera (2013,p.11-45).

Full stop / period (.):

The period is the simplest of the punctuation marks to use. The main use of the full stop is to make the end the complete sentence.

Use the full stop

(1) To mark the end of a sentence which is not an exclamation (!) or a question (?)

Example:

a. Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka.

b. I was born in Galle and now live in Colombo.

c. My sister lived in America.

(2) Use a period after most abbreviations

Example:

a. B.A.

b. A.M.

c. Mr.Peter

Comma (,):

Comma is one of the most important punctuation marks in English. It used to break different parts of a sentence and makes the meaning of the sentences clear by separating words, phrases or clauses.

There are 6 functions and examples of using comma.

(1) The comma is used to separate items in a series.

A “series” is a list of 3 or more items which could be nouns, verbs, adjectives, verb phrases or clauses; the last two of which are joined by “and”, “or” or “nor”.

Example:

a. She brought a sari, a purse, a brooch and a handkerchief.

b. He ate bread, butter, jam and banana.

(2) Use a comma before a coordinator conjunction.

When joining two clauses together with a coordinating conjunction, a comma is usually placed before the conjunction.

Example:

a. He was hungry, so he took his lunch.

b. Kamal is Sri Lankan, but Rajan is Indian.

(3) Use a comma after a phrase or clause that precedes ( go before) the subject of the sentence.

Example:

a. Because the storm had knocked out the electricity, we spent the evening telling ghost stories.

b. Since the library was closed, she went to the internet café.

(4) Use a pair of commas to set off nonessential words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence.

Example:

a. Nilmani, who has never voted in her life, is running for the post of director in her department.

b. Malani, my neighbor, is a teacher.

(5) To separate the day, year, and place.

Example: Roshani met her husband on the December 5, 2003, in New York.

(6) Use comma to separate a statement from a question.

Example: I can go, can’t I?

Question mark (?):

The question mark is one of the easiest punctuation symbols to use in writing. It is used to ask a question. It does not follow with the full stop in the end of the sentence.

There are two functions in using a question mark.

(1) Use question mark at the end of all direct questions.

Example:

a. What is your name?

b. Have you had your lunch?

(2) Question mark used with tag questions.

Example:

a. You are a teacher, aren’t you?

b. You trust me, don’t you?

Semicolon (;).

Semicolon is used to indicate a pause in-between in length between that of a comma and that of a full stop.

There are three functions of using semicolon.

(1) Use a semicolon in place of a full stop to separate two sentences where the conjunction has been left out.

Example:

a. Remind me tonight; I will prepare it then.

b. Call me tomorrow; I will give you my answer then; I have paid my dues; therefore, I expect all the privileges listed in the contract.

(2) Semicolon used before cohesive devices such as “namely”, “however” , “therefore”, “that is” when they introduce a complete sentence.

Example;

a. I ate all of my vegetables; therefore, I should get dessert.

b. We will drive to school; then we will go to the museum.

(3) Use the semicolon between two sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction if the clauses are already punctuated with commas or if the clauses are lengthy.

Example;

a. When I finish here, I will be glad to help you; and that is a promise I will keep.

Colon (:)

Colon is one of the most helpful and easiest to use of all the punctuation marks. It is usually used to introduce a list of ideas or explanation.

There are four functions and examples for using a colon.

(1) Use of a colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items.

Example:

a. You may be required to bring many items: sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

(2) To separate the hours from the minutes and seconds in a time notation, numbers in a ratio.

Example:

a. 8:12

b. 12:00 p.m.

(3) At the end of a business letter greeting and in memos

Example:

a. To Whom It May Concern:

b. To: Mr.Gunawardhna.

(4) To separate characters’ names from their lines in scripts and screenplays

Example:

Jeanne: ‘But inside of the house seems very nice, Gaston”

Apostrophe (’).

The functions of the apostrophe are to indicate possession; to form the plurals of abbreviations, characters, and signs; and to indicate omitted characters in contractions. Apostrophe has six functions in writing.

(1) Use apostrophe with contractions.

Example: She is a great teacher. (she’s)

(2) Use apostrophe to show singular and plural possession.

Example:

a. Ravi’s shirt is red.

b. The boys’ shirts are red.

Table 2.1

The rule and the example each punctuation

No Punctuation Rule Example

1 Period

( . ) 1) To mark the end of a sentence which is not a question (?) or an exclamation (!)

2) Use a period after most abbreviations

3) Use a period after an indirect question.

1) Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka.

I was born in Galle and now live in Colombo.

a. B.A.

b. A.M.

c. Mr.Peter

3) He asked where his suitcase was.

2 Comma

( , )

1) The comma is used to separate items in a series.

2) Use a comma before a coordinator conjunction.

3) Use a comma after a phrase or clause that proceeds (go before) the subject of the sentence.

4) Use a pair of comma to set off nonessential words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence.

5) To separate the day, year, and place.

6) Use comma to separate a statement from a question.

1) She brought a sari, a purse, a brooch and a handkerchief.

2) Kamal is Sri Lankan, but Rajan is Indian.

3) Because the storm had knocked out the electricity, we spent the evening telling ghost stories.

4) Nilmani, who has never voted in her life, is running for the post of director in her department.

5) Roshani met her husband on the December 5, 2003, in New York.

6) I can go, can’t I?

3 Semicolon

( ; )

1 Use a semicolon in place of a full stop to separate two sentences where the conjunction has been left out.

2) Semicolon used before cohesive devices such as “namely”, “however” , “therefore”, “that is” when they introduce a complete sentence.

3) Use the semicolon between two sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction if the clauses are already punctuated with commas or if the clauses are lengthy.

1) Remind me tonight; I will prepare it then.

2) I ate all of my vegetables; therefore, I should get dessert.

3) When I finish here, I will be glad to help you; and that is a promise I will keep.

4 Colon

( : )

1) Use of a colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items.

2) To separate the hours from the minutes and seconds in a time notation, numbers in a ratio.

3) At the end of a business letter greeting and in memos.

4) To separate characters’ names from their lines in scripts and screenplays.

1) You may be required to bring many items: sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

2)

a. 8:12

b. 12:00 p.m

3) To Whom It May Concern:

To: Mr.Gunawardhna.

4) Jeanne: ‘But inside of the house seems very nice, Gaston”

5 Question Mark

( ? )

1) Use question mark at the end of all direct questions.

2) Question mark used with a tag questions.

1) Will you go with me?

2) You do care, don’t you?

6 Exclamation mark

( ! )

1) Use Exclamation mark to show emphasis or surprise. Do not use the Exclamation points in formal business letters.

1) I’m truly shocked by your behavior!

7 Quotation Mark

( ““ )

1) Quotation marks enclose the exact words of a person.

2) Quotation marks set off the titles of smaller works within larger works.

1) She said “I am so hungry”.

2) The poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud” is a nature poem.

8 Parentheses

( ( ) )

1) Indicate an afterthought or personal commentary

2) Use full parentheses to enclose numbers or letter used for listed item.

1) Anyone can edit Wikipedia (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

2) We need an emergency room physician who can (1) quickly, (2) treat patient respectfully, and (3) handle complaints from the public.

9 Apostrophes

(‘)

1) Use apostrophe with contractions.

2) Use apostrophe to show singular and plural possession.

1) Don’t, isn’t

You’re ‘right.

She’s a great teacher.

2) Ravi’s shirt is red.

The boys’ shirts are red.

10 Hyphen

( - )

1) Use hyphens with compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine and with fractions used as modifiers (ad-jectives).

2) Use hyphens in a compound adjective only when it comes before the word it modifies.

1) Forty-two students

2) A world-renowned composer.

11 Dashes

( - )

1) In the middle of a sentence, a dash can put special emphasis on a group of words or make them stand out from the rest of the sentence.

1) Our ideas for the weekend- going to a movie, having a picnic, doing homework, hiking, seemed like a lot to squeeze in.

2.4 Previous studies on punctuation marks

In this part, the researcher will show the statements from some researchers. There, different studies have been conducted to determine and analyze students’ punctuation errors.

According to Huda. D. Salman, May Estefan, Nahi. Y. Yaseen(2017) “There are errors in using punctuation marks made by non-native postgraduates, with variation percentage in chapters of theses and dissertation. No significant difference in punctuation mark errors in the theses can be observed among the chapters of each thesis in spite of errors committed. But there is a significant difference among the five theses. This means that M.Sc. students have individual differences and they have poor ability to write correct punctuation marks in their theses. It is not only M.Sc. students who have a defect in using correct punctuation marks, but also Ph.D. students committed errors in punctuation marks." It is similar with the opinion from HAMMAM NASRUDIN (2015). There the researcher focuses on the error made in using punctuation marks in narrative writing. He says “The writer is interested in discussing and analyzing student’s error in learning punctuation. Student’s error in learning a foreign language is a part of learning process, because it is impossible for the students to learn English language without making some errors. Moreover, error analysis has an important role to reveal the kinds of error that the students do in writing and the cause of error. Therefore, the writer chooses the title “The Student’s Error in Using Punctuation Marks in Narrative Writing (A Case Study on Eleventh Grade of SMA Fatahillah)”

The other concept comes from SANI,Kabiru. (2015). He says, “.Based on the findings it is concluded that the use of full stop, comma, colon and semi-colon on the written English performance of the SS2 students of the senior secondary schools in Kano state is problematic. However, it could be said that the use of colon and semi-colon is more problematic than the use of full stop and comma”

Abdul Bari Khan, Muhammad Yasir Khan (2016) shows that whatever the writer writes it is important to use punctuation marks correctly. “Punctuation marks have great importance. Each and every field of life is linked with writing skill, either we are writing a letter, a short story, an essay, a drama, a novel, an application, a paragraph or any other product, punctuation marks are very important and without these signs and symbols we can't understand the message of the writer”

Moy (1996) stated that errors are committed due to lack of teaching materials provided by the English teachers and lack of teaching methods beside motivation. Therefore, motivation towards the use of punctuation marks might help students to deal with punctuation activities and pay them more attention in order to use them correctly in their writing.

According to Ahmed Awad (2012),” The different punctuation marks which have been developed to help learners make up for the lack of voice intonation and body language in written communication. They themselves carry meaning and express relationships between ideas; thus it is important to choose the punctuation mark that best expresses the relationship learners have in mind”

2.5 Summary of the chapter

This chapter II contains the literature review; it presents the introduction, definition of punctuation, types of punctuation, previous studies of punctuation marks. The next chapter provides research methods.