Basic Punctuation

Punctuation plays an important role in writing as it shapes meaning, clarifies ideas and enhances readability.

When used accurately, punctuation marks can shape the tone, voice and rhythm of your text. They help avoid ambiguity and ensure that the reader interprets the text in the way you intended.

Full Stops (Periods)

Full stops, also known as periods, indicate the end of a sentence, which provides a clear separation between individual ideas. They bring a sense of closure to a thought, allowing the reader to pause before moving on to the next idea.

You can use a full stop at the end of both declarative sentences (which make a statement), and imperative sentences (which give a command).

For example

  • In the declarative sentence, “She walked to the park,” the full stop at the end indicates that the statement is complete.
  • In the imperative sentence, “Finish your work,” the full stop also signals the end of the command.

Let’s look at a paragraph without full stops:

“I went to the supermarket yesterday I had a long list of items to purchase the store was very busy, there were many people shopping for their weekly groceries I found everything I needed and checked out quickly when I got home, I unpacked the groceries and started preparing dinner”

This long string of text without full stops makes it hard to separate individual ideas, which confuses the reader. The ideas run into each other, causing the paragraph to feel rushed and disjointed.

Now, let’s look at the same paragraph with full stops:

“I went to the supermarket yesterday. I had a long list of items to purchase. The store was very busy, and there were many people shopping for their weekly groceries. I found everything I needed and checked out quickly. When I got home, I unpacked the groceries and started preparing dinner.”

By adding full stops, we clearly separate different ideas into distinct sentences, making the paragraph much easier to read and understand. The reader can now easily follow the series of events and actions.

Also, by adding commas, we can create pauses within the sentences and clarify the sentence structure. This creates a logical flow, improving the readability and overall clarity of the text.

Commas

Commas serve different purposes in writing:

  • Introducing pauses within sentences
  • Separating items in a list
  • Separating the main and subordinate clauses

These help to clarify the overall structure of a sentence.

When listing items, commas provide clear separations. For example, look at the sentence “I need to buy apples oranges and bananas.” Without commas, it’s unclear where one item ends and the next begins.

By adding commas: “I need to buy apples, oranges and bananas,” each item is clearly separated.

Also, you can use commas to set off non-essential information within sentences. This provides further context or detail without disrupting the flow of the sentence.

For example, in the sentence “London, the capital of England, is a vibrant city,” the phrase “the capital of England” is additional information. The sentence would still make sense without it: “London is a vibrant city.” By using commas, you can include this extra detail in a way that doesn’t confuse the reader.

Examples

Question 1: Add full stops and commas to the following text:

on her way home from school Lisa decided to stop by the bookstore she wanted to pick up the latest mystery novel by her favourite author she also needed to buy a new notebook for her science class after she finished at the bookstore she headed straight home to start reading

On her way home from school, Lisa decided to stop by the bookstore. She wanted to pick up the latest mystery novel by her favourite author. She also needed to buy a new notebook for her science class. After she finished at the bookstore, she headed straight home to start reading.

Question 2: Add full stops and commas to the following text:

when the alarm rang john woke up and got out of bed he made coffee and toast for breakfast then he got dressed and left for work he was looking forward to the meeting with his team later that day

When the alarm rang, John woke up and got out of bed. He made coffee and toast for breakfast. Then, he got dressed and left for work. He was looking forward to the meeting with his team later that day.

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