The Importance of Being a Punctuation Mark

A dress, no mat­ter how sim­ple or drab, can always be enhanced by adding acces­sories. A sim­ple scarf, draped art­fully or an ornate broach – these are just some of the tricks. Sim­i­larly, when you come to lan­guages, a state­ment can have orna­ments too. Adjec­tives are always not the only orna­ments. Another more under­stated and under­used form is the use of punc­tu­a­tion. The use of the proper punc­tu­a­tion at the right time, can trans­form a sim­ple sen­tence into a statement.

Words like “sur­prise” and “amazed” can be replaced with the timely usage of the excla­ma­tion mark. The period as known as a full-stop can con­vey the final­ity and the ever present comma – the con­ti­nu­ity of the words. The ques­tion mark asks the unasked ques­tions. A punc­tu­a­tion mark can con­vey the unspo­ken feel­ing of a speaker in some ways that even words can­not define. The sar­casm, which might be latent in the man­ner of the speaker, can be made more obvi­ous by putting them within quotes, or even to put spe­cial empha­sis on that word. And the sense of belong­ing stated by append­ing the apostrophe.



Take for exam­ple the words “Why are you read­ing this”.
Why are you read­ing this?” states the ques­tion being asked while “Why are you read­ing this!” shows the amaze­ment of the speaker. Again, by com­bin­ing the punc­tu­a­tions we can con­vey both mean­ing. “Why! Are you read­ing this?” shows both the sur­prise and ques­tion.
“Why are you read­ing “this”?” ques­tions with empha­sis on the mate­r­ial at hand. If you place the quotes on read­ing as in “Why are you “read­ing” this?” then you would be ques­tion­ing the action.
In a sen­tence like “I’m done.” with the usage of the period you con­vey the final­ity of the intent.

In ver­bal world, often the mood and artic­u­la­tion dic­tates the punc­tu­a­tion. Often you would have heard about the float­ing terms– expres­sions, into­na­tion etc. These when trans­lated to the writ­ten world leads to the need of punc­tu­a­tion. Play­ful expres­sions of words along with imag­i­na­tive read­ing would actu­ally help you visu­al­ize the con­text in point.

Punc­tu­a­tions are a very use­ful weapon to have in your arse­nal when deal­ing with sen­tences and state­ments. With just chang­ing the place­ment, the whole mean­ing and tone of a sen­tence can be changed. Innocu­ously even, the wrong usage can cause unin­tended offense. Hence it is the duty of the author to use it well and use it judi­ciously so as to avoid any con­fu­sion, or worse, any harm.

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