Mary

How?  It's the difference between: 

Let's eat grandpa!

Let's eat, grandpa!

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Using the right punctuation marks (and grammar in general) is vital and helps convey messages clearly avoiding misunderstandings and confusions.

For spoken communications, how you say it and the tone that you use in saying it helps expressing what you really mean, but in written communication, you can just go on reading a whole paragraph without completely understanding it unless there are punctuation marks that set the tone of it, clearly differentiate between questions and sentences in any written dialogue, and eliminates ambiguity.

Here are some of the most commonly used (most important) punctuation marks, and when and how to use them:

The Apostrophe ('):

  • Usage: in place of omitted letters (e.g. do not ==> don't), or to express a possessive case (e.g. Sandy's dog).
  • Format: No spaces before or after.

The Comma (,):

  • Usage: to join a list of items in one sentence (My favourite sandwiches are chicken, bacon and ham and cheese.), or to separate clauses (as well as before the conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), between adjectives, in dates, in numbers. Commas are used where you would pause during talking.
  • Format: Space is added after the comma, but not before (xxx, xxxxxx). The comma is followed by lower case word, unless it's a proper noun or acronym.

The Semi-colon (;):

  • Usage: used for longer and stronger breaks or pauses than a comma. To list complicated, longer lists (The people present were Jamie, who came from New Zealand; John, the milkman's son; and George, a gaunt kind of man.). To join two related independent clauses (My wife would like tea; I would prefer coffee.).
  • Format: Space is added after the semi-colon, but not before (xxx; xxxxxx). The semi-colon is followed by lower case word, unless it's a proper noun or acronym.

The Colon (:):

  • Usage: before a list of items, before a description, before a definition, in ratios, hours and minutes, and before explanation.
  • Format: Space is added after the colon, but not before. The colon is followed by lower case word, unless it's a proper noun or acronym.

To Be Continued ...

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