English Language Punctuation Sentence Endings

Three of the fourteen punctuation marks are appropriate for use as sentence endings. They are the period, question mark, and exclamation point. The period (.) is, according to yourDictionary.com, “placed at the end of declarative sentences and other statements thought to be complete, and after many abbreviations.” For example: • As a sentence ender: Jane and Jack went to the market . • After an abbreviation: Her Mar . birthday came and went. Use a question mark (?) to indicate a direct question when placed at the end of a sentence. For example: When did Jane leave for the market ? The exclamation point/mark (!) is used when a person wants to express a sudden outcry or add emphasis.
1. Within dialogue: “Holy cow!” screamed Jane. 2. To emphasize a point: My mother-in-law's rants make me furious !

The Comma, Semicolon and Colon
The comma, semicolon and colon are often misused because they all can indicate a pause in a series. According to yourDictionary.com, the comma is “a punctuation mark (,) used to indicate a separation of ideas or elements within the structure of a sentence.” Additionally, it is used in letter writing after the salutation and closing. • Separating elements within sentences: Suzi wanted the black , green , and blue shoes. • Letter Salutations: Dear Uncle John , • Separation of two complete sentences: We went to the movies , and we went to the beach. According to yourDictionary.com, the semicolon (;) is used to “ connect independent clauses and indicating a closer relationship between the clauses than a period does.” For example: John was hurt ; he knew she only said it to upset him.

yourDictionary. Colons have been used throughout this article to indicate examples. According to yourDictionary. or a series and often after the salutation of a business letter. definition.” Examples of this in use include: • Between a compound name: Mrs.” according to yourDictionary. ” However.m.1945 or Princeton . braces. For example: John and Jane ( who were actually half brother and sister ) both have red hair. Smith . Brackets. an explanation. Use it in the following manner: We only wanted to get two birds but the clerk talked us into four pregnant parakeets. as 1880 . brackets surround a technical description of where the word originated. an example. Within time. Braces.to . Brackets are the squared off notations ([]) used for technical explanations.com. The symbol of is used to indicate “ a break in thought or sentence structure. to introduce a phrase added for emphasis. The first is “ after a word introducing a quotation. parentheses can be replaced by commas without changing the meaning in most cases.com. according to yourDictionary. the emdash has more complicated grammatical use. For example.New York trains. it has slightly different usage rules.) is the same symbol as the endash. and parentheses are symbols used to contain words that are a further explanation or are considered a group. A hyphen (. or explanation.back • Between syllables of a word when text is on divided: The thought ful girl brought cookies to her ailing neighbor. However. especially when divided at the end of a line of text. Use a hyphen “between the parts of a compound word or name or between the syllables of a word. They are the endash and the emdash. However. or to separate two clauses.” according to yourDictionary. it is used to separate out the hour and minute: 12 : 15 p. and Parentheses Brackets.Reynolds • Within a compound word: back . an endash is “A symbol (-) used in writing or printing to connect continuing or inclusive numbers or to connect elements of a compound adjective when either of the elements is an open compound. . At the bottom of each definition page. The Dash and the Hyphen Two kinds of dashes are used throughout written communications.A colon (:) has two main uses. Parentheses (()) are curved notations used to contain further thoughts or qualifying remarks. The second is within time expressions.com.com uses them when you look up word definitions.

” For example. omitting unnecessary words that do not interfere with the meaning. . The ellipses is generally represented by three periods (. Single quotation (‘') are used most frequently for quotes within quotes. An apostrophe (') is used to “ used to indicate the omission of a letter or letters from a word.” Ellipses are frequently used within quotations to jump from one phrase to another. but also to indicate meanings or glosses and to indicate the unusual or dubious status of a word. and abbreviations.” Examples of the apostrophe in use include: • Omission of letters from a word: An issue of nat ' l importance. Apostrophe. • Possesive case: Sara ' s dog bites. or the plurals of numbers. and Ellipses The final three punctuation forms in English grammar are the apostrophe. Unlike previously mentioned grammatical marks. . letters. and ellipses. especially of letters or words. quotation marks. . they are not related to one another in any form. The ellipses should be used in “writing or printing to indicate an omission.According to yourDictionary. quotation marks have been placed around the item. braces ({}) are used to contain “two or more lines of text or listed items to show that they are considered as a unit.com. Quotation Marks. whenever this article has copied direct definitions from yourDictionary. but can be seen in computer programming to show what should be contained within the same lines.” They are not commonplace in most writing. the possessive case. Students writing research papers or newspapers quoting parts of speeches will often employ ellipses to avoid copying lengthy text that is not needed. The yourDictionary website defines quotations marks ( “” ) as “ Either of a pair of punctuation marks used primarily to mark the beginning and end of a passage attributed to another and repeated word for word. ) although it is occasionally demonstrated with three asterisks (***). • Plural for numbers: Sixteen people were born on dates with 7 ' s in them.

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Does Lefty usually eat grass? Where are the pieces of this puzzle. There is a problem with the balance sheet. so care needs to be taken to identify it correctly. 5. If the words each. This is the cornerstone rule that forms the background of the concept. either/or. Make sure you accurately identify the subject before deciding on the proper verb form to use. The colors of the rainbow are beautiful. Subjects and verbs must agree in number. . The verb is singular if the two subjects separated by and refer to the same person or thing. Red beans and rice is my mom's favorite dish. 7. 3. nor.The 20 Rules of Subject Verb Agreement in Standard English 1.Here are the papers you requested. 6. they typically require a plural verb form. they do not affect agreement. 9. The cow and the pig are jumping over the moon. 4. When sentences start with “there” or “here. The dog growls when he is angry. Prepositional phrases between the subject and verb usually do not affect agreement. If the subjects are both singular and are connected by the words or. Subjects don't always come before verbs in questions.” the subject will always be placed after the verb.Every man and woman is required to check in. If two subjects are joined by and. every. the verb is singular. or no come before the subject. No smoking and drinking is allowed. 8. neither/nor. Don’t get confused by the words that come between the subject and verb. who is chewing on my jeans. 2. and not only/but also the verb is singular. The dog. The dogs growl when they are angry. is usually very good.

senate. Collective nouns like herd. the verb is plural. none. are treated as singular and take a singular verb. and not only/but also. 17. If two infinitives are separated by and they take the plural form of the verb. 11. The only time when the object of the preposition factors into the decision of plural or singular verb forms is when noun and pronoun subjects like some. All of the chicken is gone. When gerunds are used as the subject of a sentence they take the singular verb form of the verb. . Few were left alive after the flood. but when they are linked by and they take the plural form. 18. both) that always take the plural form. Titles of books. The herd is stampeding. nor. half. either/or. In these sentences. etc. crowd. Do your sisters or your girlfriend want any pizza? 14. If one subject is singular and one plural and the words are connected by the words or.Jessica or Christian is to blame for the accident. neither/nor. many. class. Dogs and cats are both available at the pound. The singular verb form is usually used for units of measurement. neither/nor. nor. 12. Standing in the water was a bad idea. Four quarts of oil was required to get the car running. 15. To walk and to chew gum require great skill. Indefinite pronouns typically take singular verbs.All of the chickens are gone. If the subjects are both plural and are connected by the words or. more. 10. you use the verb form of the subject that is nearest the verb. Everybody wants to be loved.Swimming in the ocean and playing drums are my hobbies. movies. usually take a singular verb form. 19. etc. * Except for the pronouns (few. several. the object of the preposition determines the form of the verb. all. etc. 16. either/or. are followed by a prepositional phrase. 13. and not only/but also. novels.

” Playing what? “I am playing guitar. since the predicate is expressed entirely by one word. she moved her body. Because the subject is the person. Whatever you add to “I am” technically forms the predicate of the sentence. Final Rule – Remember. or thing that a sentence is about.” These sentences are very simple examples of what predicates are.” “It talked!” It might be a baby saying a word for the first time.” Now you see? The verb phrase “am. What you know about “it” is that. As surprising as it may . for example.” What might confuse you is the sentence that seems to lack a subject. Look at some of the shorter sentences in the English language: • • “She danced. of course. The word that modifies the subject “she” is the past-tense verb “danced. the predicate of a sentence is the part that modifies the subject in some way. Predicates may also be whole phrases. the predicate must contain a verb explaining what the subject does. the phrase “I am playing guitar all day. but it doesn’t explain what “I am.” The subject of this sentence does not change—“I” remains the focus of the sentence. it spoke. What has changed is that the weak to-be verb “am” is enhanced by the presence of additional words explaining what and how. such as “I can” and “I will. Take. the noun around whom the action centers. “Talked” modifies the subject “it.” the verb phrase “am playing guitar. The sentence now has both a subject and a predicate. 20. a parrot squawking “hello.” The subject of the sentence is “she. “I am playing.The Burbs is a movie starring Tom Hanks. “I am” may contain a subject and a verb.” How are you playing guitar? “I am playing guitar all day. Understanding Other Examples Now that you know “I am” is not technically a full sentence. you’ll probably be quick to notice other examples that seem like full sentences but lack a predicate. place.” or even an inanimate object somehow bestowed with the power of speech. but this is not exactly true. she danced. the person about whom the sentence is written. according to the speaker. Predicate Phrases “I am” is often described as the shortest sentence in the English language.” and the adverbial “all day” fully express what the subject “I” is trying to say. but what is being conveyed or expressed about this person? She performed an action. only the subject affects the verb! What is a Predicate? Simply put.” an additional piece of the phrase is necessary to complement the verb.” the person about whom the speaker is speaking.

they are the assumed subject of the sentence. • • First. if you tell a person to do something. “Go” is therefore a complete predicate in and of itself—it needs no further explanation or qualification to make sense. the shortest complete sentence in the English language is the imperative.sound. “go” is a verb seemingly without a subject or a predicate. (You) can go anywhere. “go” is an action verb. What you really mean when you shout “go!” is. “Go!” How can this be? After all. . as long as (you) heeds the imperative. What the imperative (meaning. “do this!”) form of the “to go” verb is addressing is the person to whom you are speaking. “(You) go!” Unlike the “to be” verb used above in the “I am” example. There are two things you’ll need to understand before this example will make sense. not just a state of being.

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