Verbal: Punctuation Rules You Should Know

In the verbal section, questions are tested across many areas. Punctuation is a very important area often tested in the exam. Punctuation is used to structure and organize writing and give more clarity to the readers.  Without a punctuation, the sentence would read like a total mess.

“Are you prepared for the exam If not you should start preparing now go for it”

How does the above sentence read? Now let’s punctuate it:

What else you can do inside qs leap ?

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“Are you prepared for the exam? If not, you should start preparing now. Go for it!”

Doesn’t the second sentence look so much better? Now when you are using punctuation, you need to follow certain rules. Those are listed below:

Full Stops or Periods – One of the most common punctuation marks, full stops (or periods) help to indicate a completed sentence or statement. Periods are also used to indicate abbreviations or decimal numbers.

Commas – Commas help you structure your sentences better and help you take a logical pause in the sentence. They are generally used to separate parts of a sentence such as nouns, verbs, adverbs and other list items. The final two items in the list usually end with ‘and’ or ‘or’. Using comma at the wrong place can completely change the meaning of a sentence.

Colon – Colon helps you to elaborate on the preceding sentence. For eg, You should know your punctuation: full stops, commas, colon etc. Do not capitalize on the first word after the colon unless you are using a proper noun. Colon is also used to divide hours and minutes when representing time. You should also avoid using it after a verb or preposition.

Semicolon – Semicolon lies somewhere between a full stop and a comma. You can eliminate conjunctions and use semicolons to link sentences. Many people use colons and semicolons interchangeably. You should avoid this practice. You can use semicolons to between list items when these items themselves contain commas. Semicolons can replace full tops if the two sentences are closely linked to each other. You can also use them before words such as however, therefore, etc.

Exclamation mark – Exclamation mark is used to express surprise, astonishment or emphasis. It can also be used to represent humourous, sarcastic or ironic statements. It replaces full stops at the end of a sentence. Exclamation marks are commonly not seen in formal writing.

Question mark – As the name suggests, it should be used after a question. Like exclamation marks, they replace full stops at the end of a sentence. You should capitalize the word after a question mark. In quotations, it is normally used within the quotation marks unless the question is not part of the quotation. Don’t use it for indirect questions.

Quotation marks – Double quotation marks are used when you are quoting someone in a sentence. Periods and commas can go inside quotation marks. Use single quotation marks to express quotations within quotations. Quotation marks can also be used to represent technical terms or unfamiliar expressions.

Apostrophes – Apostrophes are used to show possession. Typically, the letter ‘s’ is added after the apostrophe. For eg, Steve’s book. Apostrophes are also commonly used with contractions. For eg, ‘did not’ can be represented as didn’t. Don’t confuse them with plurals. 

Hyphens and dashes – These two are used interchangeably but it is incorrect to do so. Hyphens are smaller compared to dashes. Generally, words are hyphenated before nouns to show it as a single idea. For eg. State-of-the-art design. They are also used for compound verbs. Hyphens are also used to represent ages and ranges. For eg, 300-325 people. Generally, space is not given on either side of the hyphen. 

Dashes, the other hand, are longer and typically appear with a space. They are used to show emphasis or an abrupt change of thought. They are also used for words which are not part of the subject. For eg, Steve – and his dog – were always at my home in the evening.

Parentheses and brackets – Again, a duo which is used interchangeably. A round sign () is used to refer parentheses while a square sign [] is sued for brackets. Parentheses are generally used for more clarification or to indicate the less important point. For eg, Steve (and his dog) were always at my home in the evening.

Brackets are used for technical manuals and used generally within quotations. They are also used for quoting original sentences with [sic] sign and maintain integrity of a quotation.

Ellipses – Again, blatantly misused by many people. It is represented by three dots. You can use it to tell readers that some part of the sentence has been omitted. Typically, the less relevant parts are omitted. It can also be used to indicate a pause in a sentence.

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