TERMINAL: PERIODS, QUESTION MARKS, EXCLAMATION POINTS
- PERIODS .
The PERIOD is terminal punctuation. It ends a sentence. It separates independent
clauses (see CS/RUN-ON discussion). Periods are also used to abbreviate certain words
Ex.: Mr. Jones met Dr. Judith Lerman for a consultation at the Baker St. Business Park.
- QUESTION MARKS ?
The QUESTION MARK is terminal punctuation. It ends a sentence. It divides independent
clauses (see CS/RUN-ON discussion), with the added aspect of forming
a question. It is not used when the question is merely being reported (see REPORTED SPEECH).
Ex.: He asked, "What time is it?" (reported speech) He asked what time it was. Not, He asked what time it was?
- EXCLAMATION POINT !
The EXCLAMATION POINT is terminal punctuation. It ends a sentence. It divides independent
clauses (see CS/RUN-ON discussion) with the added aspect of adding
emphasis to the sentence, showing urgency, alarm or loudly spoken words.
Ex.: "Hey!" he said excitedly.
The alligator actually drowns its victim before eating it whole!
MISCELLANEOUS: HYPHENS, DASHES, COLONS, QUOTATION MARKS, ELLIPSES, PARENTHESES, BRACKETS
- HYPHENS -
The HYPHEN is located on a keyboard next to the zero key...it connects two words to create
Ex.: I used to have a quarter-ton pick-up truck, but now I have a half-ton dually.
- DASHES -- or
A DASH is two hyphens next to each other...no spaces. The dash creates a pause in a
sentence. It allows for an interjection of a thought (like parentheses) or shows spoken words
halted in mid sentence.
Ex.: I've known her and others like her to react unpredictably.
"And the name of the killer is --" Suddenly a shot rang out, cutting the
constable off in mid-sentence.
- COLONS :
A COLON is a connector between an independent clause and a dependent clause, usually a
list or definition. Two spaces follow the colon.
Ex.: He dressed as a dandy: expensive, flashy clothes, gold chains and shiny shoes.
(list defines "dandy")
She wrote an anecdote: a brief personal experience illustrating her point. (phrase defines "anecdote")
- QUOTATION MARKS " "
QUOTATION MARKS are used to offset a series of words as spoken by a person. Quotation
marks indicate the EXACT words spoken, not a paraphrase. Note that the first letter of the
first word of the quotation is always capitalized. Note also that the sentence in quotes get
punctuation inside the quotation: either a period, when the quoted section ends the sentence;
comma (instead of a period), when the quote is followed by unquoted words (e.g., he said); or a
question mark or exclamation point to show emphatic speech.
Ex.: He said, "Stop!"
"Why?" she asked.
"There's a snake in
the road," he replied.
Quotation marks are also used to quote other authors in
essays (see QUOTING YOUR SOURCES).
Ex.: Jones notes that "Socrates' philosophies held astronomy in check for
nearly 2000 years" (Jones 456).
Lastly, quotation marks are used to offset a word that is being defined.
Ex.: The word "bad" has both negative and positive connotations.
- ELLIPSES ...
The ELLIPSE is THREE periods in a row (no spaces). It shows several things. First,
it is used to show spoken word trailing off.
Ex.: "I don't know..." he said thoughtfully.
Secondly, it indicates omitted words from a quoted sentence (see QUOTING YOUR SOURCES).
Ex.: Jones notes that "Socrates...held astronomy in check for...years" (Jones 456).
Third, it may be used sparingly to link clauses. The second clause would be an added bit
of information...like an afterthought.
Ex.: The second clause would be an added bit of information...like an afterthought.
- PARENTHESES ( )
PARENTHESES are the two familiar brackets that offset a word or series of words in a
sentence. Parentheses allow for an interjection of a thought or added information that will
make the rest of the sentence more relevant.
Ex.: The species CHILOPODA (centipede) feeds mostly on other
insects (although some large species will eat small rodents).
- BRACKETS [ ]
BRACKETS are used to insert a word into a quoted sentence, clarifying the sentence. They
are also used as secondary parentheses, when parentheses are already being employed.
Ex.: Jones said of Socrates that "[His] philosophies held astronomy in check for
[about 1900] years" (Jones 456).
Updated December 15, 1999
© Mr. Thomas T. Eiland