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Related to punctuation: Punctuation marks


Punctuation refers to the specific markings, signs and symbols that are used in and around sentences to give them structure and to allow for correct understanding and comprehension.
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[Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and pauses, that are equally significant (see grammargrammar,
description of the structure of a language, consisting of the sounds (see phonology); the meaningful combinations of these sounds into words or parts of words, called morphemes; and the arrangement of the morphemes into phrases and sentences, called syntax.
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 and phoneticsphonetics
, study of the sounds of languages from three basic points of view. Phonetics studies speech sounds according to their production in the vocal organs (articulatory phonetics), their physical properties (acoustic phonetics), or their effect on the ear (auditory
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). In English, stress, pausing, and tonal changes interlock in a set of patterns often called intonations. Such features are represented by punctuation, indicated by signs inserted usually between words, and often following the feature they mark.

The intonations of declaration are classified in three types, symbolized by the comma (,), used to separate words or phrases for clarity; the semicolon (;), used to mark separation between elements in a series of related phrases, generally in a long sentence; and the full stop, or period (.), used to mark the end of a sentence. Other intonations are shown by the exclamation point (!); the interrogation point, or question mark (?); the parenthesis [( )], used to set off a word or phrase from a sentence that is complete without it; and the colon (:), typically used to introduce material that elaborates on what has already been said. Quotation marks (" ") indicate direct quotation or some borrowing, and usually demand special intonation. The ellipsis (…) is used to indicate the place in a passage where material has been omitted or a thought has trailed off. The long dash (—) is especially used in handwriting for incomplete intonation patterns.

Punctuation of material intended to be read silently rather than aloud—the far more usual case today—has introduced refinements designed to help the reader: brackets ([ ]), a secondary parenthesis; capital letters; paragraphing; and indentation. Two other frequent signs are the apostrophe ('), marking an omission of one or two letters, or a possessive case, and the hyphen (-), marking a line division or an intimate joining, as in compound words. These last two are practically extra letters, and their use, belonging with spelling rather than with punctuation, is highly arbitrary.

Each written language has its tradition of punctuation, often very different from that used in English; thus, in German nouns are capitalized, and in Spanish the beginnings of exclamations and of questions are marked with inverted signs. See also accentaccent,
in speech, emphasis given a particular sound, called prosodic systems in linguistics. There are three basic accentual methods: stress, tone, and length. In English each word has at least one primary stressed syllable, as in weath`er;
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See W. D. Drake, The Way to Punctuate (1971); Words into Type (3d ed. 1974); D. Hacker, A Writer's Reference (4th ed. 1999); Univ. of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed. 2003).



a system of punctuation marks in any written language and the rules for their use; the placement of these marks in a text; a basic element of written language, along with graphics and orthography. The punctuation systems of modern languages written in the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Indian, and many other alphabets are based on uniform principles and use approximately the same set of punctuation marks.

The theoretical bases of Russian punctuation were developed by V. K. Trediakovskii, M. V. Lomonosov, and grammarians of the 19th and 20th centuries. Several different trends developed in the interpretation on the bases of Russian punctuation: the logical (F. I. Buslaev, S. I. Abakumov, A. B. Shapiro), the syntactic (la. K. Grot), and the intonational (L. V. Shcherba, L. A. Bulakhovskii, A. M. Peshkovskii). The logical school believed that punctuation aids in setting forth thoughts clearly and expresses the speaker’s feelings and his attitude toward the listener. According to the syntactic school, punctuation indicates a greater or lesser degree of linkage between sentences and sentence parts and aids in the comprehension of written language. The intonational school held that punctuation served to designate the rhythm and melody of a phrase; it regarded punctuation as primarily reflecting not a grammatical but a declamational and psychological segmentation of speech, including pauses, melody, and tempo.


Grot, la. K. Russkoepravopisanie,22nd ed. Moscow, 1916.
Peshkovskii, A. M. Shkol’naia i nauchnaia grammalika,5th ed. Moscow, 1925.
Shapiro, A. B. Osnovy russkoipunktuatsii. Moscow, 1955.
Abakumov, S. I. Metodikapunktuatsii, 4th ed. Moscow, 1954.


References in classic literature ?
Garvinus that the systems of punctuation in use by the various
He had likewise proved, that by altering the received mode of punctuation, any one of Shakespeare's plays could be made quite different, and the sense completely changed; it is needless to say, therefore, that he was a great critic, and a very profound and most original thinker.
Well, that was the punctuation of life, the final period dropped at the end of Ban's usefulness.
It was all written in one paragraph, without any attempt at punctuation, thus: "To the three Indian men living with the lady called Macann at Frizinghall in Yorkshire.
All this time, the man in the spectacles was hard at work, swearing the clerks; the oath being invariably administered, without any effort at punctuation, and usually in the following terms:--
Pullet, with a punctuation determined by a lozenge on his tongue.
A follow-up study went on to prove that exclamation points, by comparison, are perceived as a more sincere form of punctuation.
The sentence is a grammatical mess no matter what the punctuation.
It has released examples of questions children will be expected to answer in new national curriculum - or SATS - tests in maths, reading and spelling, punctuation and grammar, which are due to be introduced in 2016.
For the punctuation example above, students can check each other's work and plot their positions on the 'punctuation ladder'.
The Street Naming and Numbering Policy presented to the county council's cabinet yesterday proposed banning punctuation so that names like "St Andrew's Drive" would become "St Andrews Drive".
Riding around Shrewsbury, I noted several lawn signs that were intended to oppose the Proposition 21/2 override, but with the proper punctuation makes the case for a yes vote.